When it comes to Charlie Hunnam’s role in The Lost City of Z, we imagine it must have been hard to prepare. After all, the story is set in the 1920s and it’s all about a British explorer named Percy Fawcett who disappears into the Amazon jungle, hoping to find a long-lost civilization. That’s pretty far-flung from an actor in the 21st century, but Charlie was up to the challenge. We interviewed him at the LA premiere for the film, where he shed a bit of insight into his preparation process. And, well, let’s just say it wasn’t a walk in the park. In fact, there was quite a bit of sacrifice.
“In this film particularly, Fawcett made an enormous amount of sacrifice for his work. You know, he would go away, and obviously in a time when we didn’t have a lot of the technical luxury we do now, and he would be away from his wife for three or four years at a time. So, it’s always good to remove oneself as much as possible from the distractions of life when working, because it requires 100 percent absolute focus. But for this, also, it was played into specifically some of the hardship that the character that I was playing had experienced. So, it was sort of a no-brainer to me. Switch the phone off, switch the computer off, say, ‘All right, I’ll see everyone in four months.’ But, you know, I will say you have to have incredibly supportive and understanding people around you to allow you to do these types of things. I’ve been with my girlfriend for 12 years, and I said, ‘Would it be OK if we don’t talk for the next four months?’ A lot of people would say, ‘Go f*ck yourself.’ My girlfriend said, ‘Hey, listen, you know, I know how important your work is to you, so just go do whatever you need to do.'”
Aside from the whole “losing contact with everyone in your life” thing, there was another aspect of Charlie’s character that, at first glance, may have posed a problem. In the film, Percy has a son named Jack Fawcett, who’s played by Tom Holland (who will also star in Spider-Man: Homecoming later this year). Charlie isn’t a father (yet), so we were curious about whether he had trouble getting into that mindset.
“I have younger brothers that I have felt very paternal towards,” Charlie explained. “I mean, they have a father of their own, but they’re so much younger than me that I’ve always felt very protective and I’ve wanted to impart whatever gossamer amount of wisdom that I have to them. So, I guess, no is the short answer.”
With such a supportive girlfriend and that lovely family experience, it’s safe to say Charlie is a lucky guy.
In case you missed it, you can watch the live Facebook interview Charlie did with Entertainment Weekly where he discussed his film Lost City of Z, his future projects American Drug Lord, Vlad and more. Definitely worth a watch. Check it out below:
KING OF THE STREETS. English actor Charlie Hunnam chats with DA MAN about the new, epic stories he will bring to life in the months to come
When you’ve played one of TV’s most popular anti-heroes and the most badass giant robot pilot ever to grace the silver screen, how can you ever top that? Well, Charlie Hunnam—who played outlaw biker Jackson Teller in hit TV series “Sons of Anarchy” and Jaeger pilot Raleigh Becket in the widely-acclaimed “Pacific Rim,” among many others—is set to do just that this year with at least three major movie appearances. It starts with the epic “The Lost City of Z” which is based on a true story this April, followed closely by “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” where Hunnam brings out a more street-smart version of the legendary king this May. Later this year, he will also appear in “Papillon,” a remake of the immensely popular 1973 movie of the same name. And here to share the stories-behind-the-stories of these highly-anticipated titles is the star of all three himself.
DA MAN: Hi, Charlie. “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” is set to hit theaters this May. What would you say is the number-one reason to go see this movie when it comes out?
Charlie Hunnam: Because it’s a cool, fun, fresh, original, badass, two-hour extravaganza. We have magic, fighting, pretty girls, pretty boys and a sh-tload of laughs. [Chuckles] If I had to sum it up with one adjective it would be “fun!”
DA MAN: We did a bit of research, and found that film adaptations of Arthurian legend date back all the way to 1904. What will this 2017 version do differently from its predecessors?
Charlie Hunnam: Guy’s [director Guy Ritchie] sensibility as a director is very contemporary, so the style and tone of the film is completely fresh for this genre, and the story itself is very different from any of its predecessors. Arthur has always been portrayed as the noble man, who goes on a noble quest to become a noble king. Guy said, “let’s make Arthur a motherf—-r.” We are only telling the first chapter of the story, so making Arthur conflicted, angry and scared at the beginning gives greater breadth to his journey and makes for a more interesting character.
DA MAN: You famously said that you would do 500 push-ups a day to prepare yourself for the role. And you also offered to fight the other two finalists—Henry Cavill and Jai Courtney, if we’re not mistaken—when the issue of King Arthur’s physicality came up again and again. Were you really that confident that you could take on Superman and Captain Boomerang at once?
Charlie Hunnam: [Laughs] Are you trying to get me into a fight? Okay, I’ll answer in order. Yes, I did an enormous amount of push-ups while making this film. Not always 500, sometimes less, sometimes more. The most I ever did was 1,050 in a day. There were also days I did none. With regards to fighting the competition … Sure, I’d take them both on. I actually didn’t know who the other dudes were but I love a good fight, and Guy kept pestering me about how skinny I was at the time. So, I said “F–k it, let me fight for the role.” All in good fun, though. I respect both those guys; I’m not trying to start any trouble. In the immortal words of RZA, “I’m vegetarian, b—h, I don’t want the beef.”
DA MAN: On a more serious note, you did bulk up impressively. How, exactly, did you do it?
Charlie Hunnam: In the usual way, nothing exciting. I ate enormous amounts of food and worked out like a bastard every day. I prefer calisthenic-style exercises, so the majority of my training was pull-ups, push-ups, dips and non-weighted squats. I also boxed every day and did a bit of jiu-jitsu. Continue reading
Saturday morning at Claridge’s and it’s kedgeree o’clock. Mr Charlie Hunnam ambles in for our breakfast appointment in a private room at the back of the restaurant. For an actor who played a pumped – and frequently topless – biker for seven seasons of US TV drama Sons Of Anarchy, and who this year is filling the big screen as a mythic British king, a fabled early 20th-century explorer and a legendary convict escapee, the 36-year-old wears his charisma lightly. With his choppy hair, blonde stubble and elbow-patched, grey cotton shirt, Mr Hunnam looks more resting rocker than leading man. Fifty shades of grunge, anyone?
The Newcastle-born, LA-based actor studies the menu in the same quiet, thoughtful manner that, it transpires, he considers everything. He’ll have the vegetarian breakfast, please, with granary toast and a side of avocado. “I’m not a veggie,” clarifies Mr Hunnam in a soft Geordie accent still evident after 18 years in LA. “But I never see any point in meat at breakfast. I like a bit of smoked salmon, maybe a kipper. But I don’t do any sausages or bacon.”
I previously encountered Mr Hunnam in 2010, in his then-home on West Hollywood’s hipster thoroughfare, Melrose Avenue. He was about to begin filming the third series of Sons Of Anarchy. His was the hero role, that of Jax Teller, prodigal son of the founder of an outlaw Californian motorcycle chapter. Naturally lean, he bemoaned the gym time required to buff himself up to play the dynamic biker prince, and the concomitant loading up on white-meat protein. He was a long way from his breakthrough role, playing a callow, northern teenager in Mr Russell T Davies’ groundbreaking 1999 Manchester-set gay drama Queer As Folk.
“Now I realise that there are protein powders, vegan protein powders and all that shit,” Mr Hunnam says with a small smile of relief. “[Things] that feel a little kinder to the system rather than eating enormous amounts of solid protein every day.”
Even though he wrapped on the final 80-hours-per-week filming schedule of Sons Of Anarchy in 2014, fitness still matters to Mr Hunnam. But it’s the right kind of fitness.
“I have come to really like an active lifestyle,” says Mr Hunnam. “It was a bit of a challenge to begin with to find a routine that felt good. But equal to the physical rewards of feeling good and healthy and energised, just the mental clarity and emotional stability I find I get from working out have become pretty essential to my day-to-day life.”
A keen hiker, a legacy perhaps of a childhood spent in the Lake District, 18 months ago Mr Hunnam moved to a new home at the bottom of Runyon Canyon. “That’s lovely to have on the doorstep. I go up there most mornings about 6.00am, watch the sunrise. Sometimes double it up and go watch the sunset as well. And on my ambitious days, I do give it a bit of a run, but it’s usually just a fast walk.”
His neighbours are Ms Sam and Mr Aaron Taylor-Johnson. The first knock on the door to borrow a cup of sugar could have been problematic because, famously, at the 11th hour, Mr Hunnam dropped out of Ms Taylor-Johnson’s Fifty Shades Of Grey film. In October 2013, it was announced that he was to play fabulously wealthy kink-merchant Christian Grey in the film adaptation of the gazillion-selling novel. A little over a month later, he quit. Northern Irish actor Mr Jamie Dornan gamely accepted the keys to the sex dungeon and disaster was averted. But it was a bruising time for all concerned.
Letting down Ms Taylor-Johnson, he admits, “was primarily the reason it was very, very difficult. And thankfully she is such a wonderful, kind, empathetic person, she understood. And we’ve actually remained friends.” Continue reading
Forget the abs, forget the jawline, forget the massive fighting robots — Charlie Hunnam just wants to be taken seriously
Charlie Hunnam doesn’t do Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. “I am so baffled by the whole phenomenon of social media,” he says. “To me, it speaks to going the wrong direction, trying to fill up this gaping hole that we all have in us.” The English-born actor is sitting at a table in his “office,” an unfussy restaurant on the Sunset Strip. He’d arrived for our interview 10 minutes early, dressed in a gray sweatshirt and jeans, waving a familiar hello to the employees on his way in.
In the nine years since he first appeared on FX’s cult hit Sons of Anarchy, Hunnam, who turns 37 this month, has become a full-fledged Hollywood hunk. He has scruffy blond hair, pale blue eyes and abs that look like they were drawn on by somebody at Marvel Comics. But he doesn’t talk like that. “I’m not interested in what anyone had for breakfast or what they think of these shoes they’re wearing or where they’re on vacation,” he says, continuing the social media theme. “This instant ability to like, dislike and cast immediate snap judgments on things—and being encouraged to do so—proliferates into our everyday existence.”
We’re here to discuss Hunnam’s new movie, The Lost City of Z (April 14), from We Own the Night writer-director James Gray. In the film, he portrays Colonel Percy Fawcett, the real-life British explorer who ventured into the Brazilian jungle in the 1920s in search of a lost civilization. Next month, he’ll play the lead role in Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. It seems that Hunnam is not just an unusually well-spoken actor, but an unusually hardworking one. He shot both films within a few weeks of each other, an arduous schedule that cut him off from the outside world—including his partner, jewelry designer Morgana McNelis. During the four months he spent filming Lost City in Colombia and Ireland, he didn’t even call her on the phone—all the better to immerse himself in the role.
“I have an incredible girlfriend. We’ve been together 11 years, and she’s incredibly understanding of my obsession,” he says. “There is an enormous amount of compromise that we’ve both made. We’re not married. We don’t have kids. That’s exclusively because of my obsession to fulfill this sense of personal destiny.”
Personal destiny is an idea that’s generally applied to mythical figures—like, say, King Arthur—rather than film stars. But Hunnam has deliberately placed himself on the margins of the Hollywood scene. You won’t see tabloid reports of him partying at local hot spots. He likes to spend his time cooking, he says, watching movies or exploring nature. Even for Hunnam, though, sequestering himself in the South American jungle for months on end seemed a little extreme.
“I wasn’t trying to be overly bullish or anything,” he says, adding that the Percy Fawcett role “just took on an enormous amount of importance for me, in terms of proving to myself what I was capable of. It was an opportunity to go as deeply into the work as I’d always craved. I was not going to let anything prevent that opportunity from manifesting and being as full as it could possibly be.”
Hunnam may be even more amped up about his role in King Arthur, which ties into a childhood fantasy. As a boy, one of his favorite films was John Boorman’s Arthurian epic Excalibur. “I just watched that over and over,” he says. “I was always whittling sticks into swords and trying to engage my big brother in sword fights and stuff like that.” Ritchie’s version is an origin story, inflected with the snappy banter and visual trickery of his early gangster flicks Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. “I was really interested in King Arthur and what Guy was doing with it,” Hunnam says. “It felt like an observation or an exploration of the ego and how we tell ourselves terrible things and create demons within ourselves.” He describes working with Ritchie as “a very visceral, immediate experience.”
After being fused as Jax Teller for eight years on Sons of Anarchy, Charlie Hunnam has seen his mainstream popularity — as well as geek-friendly popularity — grow in the three years since the show ended.
Having starred in Pacific Rim and Crimson Peak, he will now cross back in history with King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword. ComicBook was able to speak with the star on the red carpet of CinemaCon to see how the new translation will be different that that of old and how Jax seeped into the filming.
“We just wanted to make sure that it was fresh and felt modern and had something to say that hadn’t been said before,” Hunnam said. “We’ve seen the version of Arthur that’s the noble man who goes on the journey to be the noble king.
“We said we wanted to do something the opposite of that; we wanted to make him a little bit of a motherfuXXer. So he starts off he’s tough; he’s streetwise; he a little bit selfish but at center of it he has a good heart.”
Acclaimed filmmaker Guy Ritchie brings his dynamic style to the epic fantasy action adventure King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. Starring Hunnam in the title role, the film is an iconoclastic take on the classic Excalibur myth, tracing Arthur’s journey from the streets to the throne. When the child Arthur’s father is murdered, Vortigern (Jude Law), Arthur’s uncle, seizes the crown. Robbed of his birthright and with no idea who he truly is, Arthur comes up the hard way in the back alleys of the city. But once he pulls the sword from the stone, his life is turned upside down and he is forced to acknowledge his true legacy… whether he likes it or not.
The actor revealed just how profound of an effect Jax has had on the rest of his career, and how the character continues to influence his work.
“I’ve never had an experience of getting so close and so deeply meshed with a character before,” he said. “I felt when I finished sons that it was a real process to get back to center, and try to exorcise him out of my psyche for as much as possible. Because I’d been living with him for eight years you know, trying to bring him to life.
“I started this movie maybe three months after I finished Sons so I’m sure there’s flavors of him in there. It certainly wasn’t intentional though.”
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is directed by Guy Ritchie, from a screenplay by Joby Harold and Guy Ritchie & Lionel Wigram, based on a story by David Dobkin and Joby Harold. King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is produced by Akiva Goldsman, Joby Harold, Tory Tunnell, Steve Clark-Hall, Guy Ritchie, Lionel Wigram and executive produced by David Dobkin and Bruce Berman.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword opens in theaters May 12, 2017.