ELLE: A few stories I read described your dad as a “gangster.” True?
Charlie Hunnam: No, he was a scrap-metal man. If, say, a coal mine or a shipyard goes down, there’s an enormous opportunity to go and strip scrap metal and melt it down. It’s incredibly valuable, completely untraceable, and very desirable to steal. Everybody understands that if you fuck around, there will be serious consequences. That’s where his reputation came into play. He was very well known. Some might say even feared. But he wasn’t into making money illegally, which is my definition of a gangster.
How did the town react when you became the face of a Calvin Klein cologne?
I don’t know, because I left there when I was 12. I go back occasionally to see my dad. I think everybody is seduced by the film business, whether they’re tough, salty, Newcastle dudes or young dudes or whatever.
You’re often shirtless in movies. Has that given you some understanding of what it’s like to be a woman in Hollywood?
I never really thought about it in that context.
Okay, do you ever feel objectified?
Not at all. I don’t view myself that way. I obviously am cognizant of the fact that being handsome gives me greater breadth of opportunity. I’d hope that what I bring to the table far surpasses just being handsome.
Actors often describe sex scenes as awkward. What’s the truth?
I try to be sensitive to the fact that we’re doing something intimate, but also keep a clear boundary. Because I’m in a very committed relationship, and I’m also cognizant that it’s not my girlfriend’s favorite part of my job. It’s a delicate balance to strike—to be emotionally open enough to have an experience that feels honest between two people but also maintain that it’s just for the film. It’s not my favorite thing to do. I’m also a germaphobe.
Yeah. I’ve been profoundly germophobic since I was a young child. I don’t want to kiss anyone but my girlfriend for my whole life.
Do you remember how it started?
When I was maybe eight or nine, there was a parasite from dogs in the north of England that, if you ingested it, could turn you blind. We had a thing in schools to educate the kids about the importance of hygiene, specifically around dogs, because we had a few kids who went blind. That horrified me. The point is, everyone thinks it’s great to be an actor and get to kiss a bunch of beautiful actresses in films, but I actually hate it.
Have you ever used your fame to get out of trouble?
There’s definitely a huge number of L.A. police who seem to like Sons of Anarchy. When the show was on, I’d ride my bike to work a little faster than California law would allow. And I got pulled over my fair share. It didn’t always work, but maybe two or three times I didn’t get a ticket. It was very handy.
You were cast in Fifty Shades of Grey but backed out because of scheduling conflicts. Have you seen the film?
I haven’t. I developed a friendship with [director Sam Taylor-Johnson], but that was a somewhat traumatic experience for me. I didn’t want to open that wound.
King Arthur is a story about destiny. Do you believe in fate?
Yes. I think we can affect our own fates, but there’s also a powerful energy that’s the universe or God or whatever your unconscious recognizes that helps along your way.
Is there a story from your own life that informed that view?
No, but I’ll tell you what Henry David Thoreau said: “I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” I think when you live your destiny, you allow yourself to get in touch with your inner essence. What’s difficult in life is the economic and social requirements that distract us from bringing forth our true passion.
Economic requirements! Don’t you have, like, 80 pairs of sneakers?
I did at a period in my life. Not anymore.
I grew up. I spent an enormous amount of time sourcing the good shit. I needed really limited edition, blah blah blah. Then I thought, What the fuck am I doing? I took out six or seven pairs that I cared about, and I gave the rest to charity.
Charlie Hunnam, the actor who turned down the Christian Grey role in Fifty Shades, tells Gemma Dunn he’s no action hero despite his latest movie about explorer Percy Fawcett, which was partly shot in Northern Ireland.
Charlie Hunnam is recalling a time when he embarked on a camping trip – sans mobile phone – with his long-term girlfriend, jewellery designer Morgana McNelis.
“We went into a big wilderness area in California called Kings Canyon”, begins the 36-year-old actor. “I didn’t take my phone with me and she kept saying, ‘Oh it’s going to be so romantic’, and I said, ‘It’s not romantic, it’s adventure, it’s survival’.
“We were going out into the wilderness for seven days,” he reports, animatedly. “And just three days in, we got horribly lost – and were completely lost for four days.
“I was feeling fairly confident two days in; by the third day I started to panic a little bit, and by the fourth, having no idea where we were and seeing no trace of humanity, I started to think, ‘Maybe I should have brought my mobile phone’.”
Holed up in a hotel room, Hunnam – best known as the fearless Jax Teller in the hit FX series Sons Of Anarchy – isn’t casually reeling off past misadventures.
His admission is in light of his latest role in director James Gray’s stirring big-screen tribute, The Lost City Of Z, partly filmed in Northern Ireland.
Swapping his motorbike leathers for camo chic, he leads the incredible true story of UK explorer Percy Fawcett, who journeyed into the Amazon at the dawn of the 20th century and discovered evidence of a previously unknown, and advanced, civilisation.
Despite being ridiculed by the scientific establishment, the adventurer – supported by his devoted wife (Sienna Miller), son (Tom Holland) and aide-de-camp (Robert Pattinson) – returned time and again to his beloved jungle in an attempt to prove his case, culminating in his mysterious disappearance in 1925.
Epicly scaled and multi-faceted, the drama – based on David Grann’s non-fiction bestseller of the same name – provided the change of pace Hunnam needed.
“I’ve been really lucky, particularly in the last few years, that I’ve been getting offered lots of diverse and really interesting things”, notes the actor, whose previous credits include Guillermo del Toro’s films Pacific Rim and Crimson Peak.
He also famously backed out of playing BDSM heart-throb Christian Grey in the film adaptation of 50 Shades Of Grey, which then went to Holywood-born actor Jamie Dornan.
He adds, though, this movie was about the acting rather than the great outdoors. “More than specifically looking for an adventure story per se, I was eager to work with a high-level director and work on a character that was really complex. Continue reading
Charlie Hunnam has been introduced to the world of bjj earlier in 2016 when reports surfaced he actor was practicing along with Machado and inspired by black belt and director of the latest “King Arthur” movie. Being fairly discrete and not active on social media Hunnam was outed by his 22 push up challenge which he did in the Jean Jacques Machado rashguard.
But for the latest bout of his promotional duties related to King Arthur he had the Men’s Health reporter follow him straight to class.
According to the report to be published in the April edition of the magazine the two some started with some light talk. According to Hunnam part of the attraction to martial arts and fitness is related to vanity but there’s more than that as well:
“I’m interested in having a high fitness level across the board,” he says. “Running, swimming, jumping rope, hiking, jiu-jitsu—I try to do it all. I also try to make love as often as I can. That’s an important part of fitness. There’s no reason you can’t be active at 70. I want to run up mountains at that age.”
The writer then followed Hunnam into a jiu jitsu class. According to the report the learning curve in the class was steep. First segment was related to armbars but then moved onto chokes. The writer describes in detail being choked by Hunnam:
The pressure on my neck is firm, but I feel strangely safe with him. He’s strong but displays precise control and even a lightness of touch. Although brutal, there is an art to cutting off someone’s air supply. I double-tap his arm to signal submission. The sensei, Rigan Machado, an eighth-degree black belt member of Brazilian jiu-jitsu’s founding Gracie family, says Hunnam is a perfectionist—something I experience firsthand as we practice again and again and Hunnam fine-tunes his chokes. Nothing grounds you in the present more than being unable to breathe. Jiu-jitsu training demands focus and discipline.
It’s no surprise Hunnam had opted to practice in the company and under the guidance of Rigan Machado as Rigan is known for having invented a bjj system without sparring for his celebrity clientele:
“I created a new jiu jitsu system for people who can’t get hurt. It’s technical training. They learn jiu-jitsu and technically train, but it’s all safe. I created a type of jiu-jitsu for the Beverly Hills clientele. Competition, sparring… these guys can’t do that. I can’t even take a 1% chance of them getting hurt. I have 18 celebrities doing this program. Some guys have to sign disclosure agreements; others like Ashton Kutcher and Mickey Rourke come in regularly, while Usher comes in once and a while and Vin Diesel when he’s in town.”
Hunnam, packed on some pounds for the King Arthur: Legend of the Sword movie. According to his own statement he usually walks around at a 165 but he put on 20 pounds of muscle.
Rigan calls this style for celebrities “flow jiu jitsu”. It took him 9 years to put it together, and it has more than 700 techniques, which can be drilled and trained without risking injury.
As far as combative preparation for King Arthur goes Hunnam himself says:
“It’s not even as much the physical benefit of training; it’s the mental,” he says. “When you’re training every day in a combat discipline, it just gives you that eye of the tiger. Then if someone acts aggressively toward you, I can run all the scenarios through my head—you know, like I’m going to step to the side and put an elbow through your face.”
Hunnam sought to reimagine the noble action hero with Ritchie, himself a black belt in BJJ. “We wanted to do something a little rougher around the edges while still dealing with the rich Arthurian mythology,”
When Hunnam’s girlfriend of 11 years was cyberbullied last year, he released a video telling the perpetrators to knock it off. “The way I grew up, if you want to talk s*it, talk s*it to someone’s face and be prepared to fight.”
There’s no room for cowardliness in his approach adding in the end:
“We are supposed to be very active animals. It’s our DNA.” Hunnam derives emotional stability and clarity from his fitness. “Sweating is how I change my oil every day. I just feel happier, more positive, energized, and disciplined if I work out.” Ultimately, he says, “I train a lot every day because I’m f*cking crazy.”
How did you come to work together?
DJIMON HOUNSOU: The call came in, and my agent said, “Charlie Hunnam,” “The guy from the biker show?” “Yeah,” my agents said. “He’s nice. He’s really cool. You’ll like him!” That was it. I came and met Charlie and it was a great rapport. Some people you just meet and have an affinity for. [There’s] no ego. It was a nice rapport.
CHARLIE HUNNAM: We did something strange and wonderful. I didn’t think it was gonna work at all, but it did. Guy had this wacky idea that he wanted to take an afternoon before we started working and shoot the whole film in four hours on two or three cameras and in a room all in black. We shot the whole film, and that’s where we met. That’s where most of the cast met. It was a baptism of fire. It was such a high-energy, sort of anxiety-inducing experience.
HOUNSOU: I landed the night before and I got here and met quickly for wardrobe, and I [heard] we had a video shoot the next morning. So I was highly stressed to say the least.
HUNNAM: But we came down really well right away. As soon as I came up and shook your hand I was like, “Ah, this motherfucker’s cool.” [Laughs.]
We’ve seen many versions of the King Arthur story. This one has a contemporary sensibility. Can you talk about what we’ll be seeing that we haven’t seen before?
HOUNSOU: The one obvious thing that you’ll see more of in this story is that it’s really about the Knights of the Round Table. How all of those knights came to make the king who he is.
HUNNAM: : As you would imagine, it’s the origin story. It’s the sort of Arthur origin story, of his rise to the throne. So it’s a reinvention certainly of the periods between him being estranged from his family and reuniting with his destiny, with sort of the royal lineage. It’s a very different sort of rendering. Much grimmer and grittier, and in a certain way probably much more modern. The camaraderie feels sort of modern and easily recognizable as boys’ banter, the sort of stuff Guy does very well. But I feel like the world and the pace of the whole thing feels very period. I don’t think it feels like an uber modern rendering of it.
Was it intimidating to take on a role that has such a history to it?
HUNNAM: No, if you think about that stuff you’ll completely get head-fucked. So I just don’t think about that at all. I just try to get to know the character on my own terms. Guy and I discussed a great deal who he was and what sort of version we found, between the two of us, most exciting. But I’m very familiar with Arthurian legend. In fact, my girlfriend is called Morgana, and one of my favorite films, that actually led me to want to become an actor, was Excalibur. I watched Excalibur ad nauseum as a child. So I’m very familiar with the world. But I just decided not to go back. I’d read The Once and Future King years ago, and I’ve always loved this world. But I decided to just try to forget everything I’d ever seen, and just come in with it fresh, and not feel that pressure of having to do justice to this beloved story. It just felt like it was much healthier and more fun and more exciting and more free just to approach it as though it was a completely original story and a completely original character; and not feel beholden to any of the shit you’d seen before, you know?
Can you elaborate on Guy shooting the whole film in four hours on a stage?
HUNNAM: I think there were several elements as to why it was useful to him. First and foremost it was sort of like a table read, but where he could actually see everything edited. Sort of like an elevated table read. Just to see the pace and the tone and a little bit of the dynamics between the characters. So that was the pre-production benefit of it. As we’ve gone on and they’ve been assembling different sequences that we’ve been shooting, we’ve been able to fill in the gaps with that stuff. So from about halfway into the filming they’ve had the whole film sort of edited with those sections that we hadn’t shot yet filled in with that four-hour thing. Which has been really interesting and helpful to Guy. He’s been going back and rewatching the film quite a lot. I’m sure if you talk to him there would have been other benefits too. But they were the obvious big ones. Continue reading
The live chat originally took place on February 21st. You can watch it below in case you missed it.
Charlie Hunnam realises he needs to balance his relationship and work more effectively for when talk turns to starting a family.
The 36-year-old actor has been with his girlfriend Morgana McNelis since 2005 and the pair has had to ensure long periods apart due to Charlie’s film schedules.
He has previously admitted struggling to assign time to both his love life and career, and in a new interview he shared his desire to strike harmony between the two.
“I have an incredibly understanding girlfriend who is requiring more and more as we get older that I figure out a way to balance these things a little better,” he told Total Film magazine.
“I’ve gotten off pretty easily so far, with being able to just disappear and be completely selfish and singular in my focus, but if we’re going to start talking about children and getting married then I’m going to have to figure out a way to balance that a little bit more effectively.”
Despite the hurdles, Charlie’s star has soared over the years, with his breakthrough role coming in TV series Sons of Anarchy.
He describes the series as “true education” in acting, storytelling and filmmaking and doesn’t know where he’d be today if it wasn’t for his role as gang leader Jackson ‘Jax’ Teller.
“I was a working actor, I was able to work with good directors and make films I really believed in. But the opportunities were fairly sporadic and sometimes few and far between,” he recalled. “And Sons changed all of that. I was in an exponentially better position by the time I finished that show (in 2014) than I was at the beginning. I grew in confidence.”
Charlie currently has several silver screen projects in the pipeline, including The Lost City of Z and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.
“He calls it fuck-dust. He liberally sprinkled fuck-dust on the film.” ‘Fuck-dust’ is, according to Charlie Hunnam, the term Guy Ritchie assigns to achieving just the right dose of magical realism.
For a boy who grew up “carving sticks into swords”, it was “a childhood dream come true to play King Arthur”, (and for the seemingly unconventional choice of Guy Ritchie, no less) Hunnam affirmed to Empire in our new issue. “[Ritchie’s] created a very rich, exciting world. I describe it to my friends as Lord Of The Rings meets Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels. [It’s] an unlikely marriage of two things, but it works.” Maybe not such a leftfield choice of director after all.
As expected, the British director has a unique vision for the famous king. “We wanted to make an ignoble Arthur, at least at first,” Hunnam says. “We wanted him to feel contemporary, selfish, somewhat rough around the edges.”
The director also had a novel way of making sure Hunnam was the right Arthur for his film, pushing the actor so hard about being in shape that he snapped during the audition process. “I said, ‘You know what? Fucking stop the camera. I’m starting to lose my temper. I know those other pricks you’ve got reading for this role (namely Henry Cavill and Michael Fassbender). If you bring them in right now, I’ll fucking fight them both at once for the role, and we’ll see what’s up with the physicality.’ Guy said, ‘Fucking hell, alright – calm down, mate.’” Though we’d surely be foolish to bet against Supes and Magneto, it sounds like Hunnam is ready for the challenge.
For more on King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword, pick up the new issue of Empire on sale this Thursday. Or you can subscribe to Empire (including an instant digital subscription) right here. King Arthur is released in cinemas on 24 March 2017.