‘Papillon’s’ Charlie Hunnam admits to butterflies over Steve McQueen role

BostonHerald.com — “Papillon” — French for “butterfly” — is adapted from the memoirs of Devil’s Island prisoner turned escapee Henri Charriere and stars Charlie Hunnam (“Sons of Anarchy”) and Rami Malek (“Mr. Robot” and up next as Queen’s Freddie Mercury in “Bohemian Rhapsody”).

The 1973 “Papillon” had Steve McQueen, Golden Globe nominated as Charriere, and Dustin Hoffman as Louis Dega, his meek, intellectual prison pal.

Hunnam, 38, called the physically demanding “Papillon” “a lot of fun” and praised his “great” Danish director Michael Noer.

He also acknowledged contending with a film version that was critically praised and beloved.

“Obviously, we’re going to have to endure the inevitable, relentless comparison,” he said.

“But through the creative process, we never really felt beholden or as though we were making a remake. We always approached it as though it was an independent adaptation.”

Was he worried about stepping into Steve McQueen’s formidable shoes?

“No, there wasn’t that at all,” he began before correcting himself.

“That’s not true. Initially, I thought that it was maybe a lofty aspiration to be remaking such a beloved classic film with such an incredibly talented guy in the lead role. But ultimately it’s a true story. Henri Charriere was a real man. It’s a great amount of source material — but the more I started looking into that world, the greater the distance from that original film.

“Then through conversations with Michael Noer, who has a very different dramatic sensibility, it just started to feel as though the two films weren’t going to be connected at all.

“Other than sharing the source material — and the same name.”

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