HollywoodReporter.com — “I feel good,” Charlie Hunnam said with a smile (and an asterisk) upon hitting the red carpet Monday night outside Westwood’s Bruin Theater, host of the world premiere of his new Apple TV+ series Shantaram.
The asterisk is necessary because Hunnam’s emotional state is understandably layered, especially on the eve of this long-gestating series based on Gregory David Robert’s 2003 blockbuster novel finally being seen by the world. Shantaram casts Hunnam as the lead, Lin Ford, an on-the-run fugitive who escapes to Bombay, India, where he gets lost among the city’s vibrant characters in the often mysterious and seedy underbelly.
“When I wrap and the job’s over, I’ve already gone through the highs and the lows,” Hunnam explained to The Hollywood Reporter about the series, produced for the streamer by Paramount Television Studios and Anonymous Content’s AC Studios. “I’ve already judged it on what we did well and what we didn’t do well so it’s sort of surreal to finally be here because I’ve been so deep in this for so long that I don’t know how to feel. I actually feel numb tonight, maybe somewhat unemotional.”
He was quick to clarify: “I am excited for the world to see it but after seven years, I suppose I’m saying that it’s more personal to me than sharing it with the outside world and I suppose it all hasn’t really sunk in yet.”
He has a few more days to process. Shantaram will make its global debut on Apple TV+ with the drop of the first three episodes of its 12-episode first season on Oct. 14. A new episode will then roll out weekly through Dec. 16. Steve Lightfoot leads the charge as co-creator, writer and executive producer alongside executive producers Nicole Clemens, Andrea Barron, Justin Kurzel and the late Steve Golin. Eric Warren Singer, who was previously attached as creator and showrunner before Lightfoot took over, also receives an executive producer credit.
A novel-length text would be required to detail the backstory of bringing Shantaram to the screen. Over the years, everyone from Johnny Depp and Joel Edgerton to filmmakers Peter Weir and Mira Nair were attached for a feature film version. Then, in 2018, Paramount and Anonymous snapped up adaptation rights once they became available, setting Singer and director Justin Kurzel to spearhead the series starring Hunnam. However, after two episodes were shot, the show went on hiatus and Singer was replaced by Lightfoot in a complete creative overhaul.
Hunnam says the richness of Roberts’ storytelling has made it such a hot commodity. “It’s an extraordinary journey of a man who goes through darkness to find light, and there’s action, adventure, romance and the exciting foreign nature of the environments,” says the actor, who hasn’t starred in a TV series since Sons of Anarchy. “All of the things [Shantaram] surfaced are the same things that I found compelling to investigate in my own life. When I first read this book, I was thinking a huge amount about God, about philosophy and psychology and about my experience in the world. These are all subjects that Greg writes about and he really swings for the fences. He not only tasked himself with telling an extraordinary story and delivering compelling drama as the story goes along, but he also tasked himself with figuring out the meaning of life through this text, you know? What is the nature of God? If God does exist, what is God?”
Continue reading Press/Interview: Charlie Hunnam on Shantaram Illness, “Destroying” Back for Rebel Moon