TheWrap.com — Do you ever wonder how actors feel when they see their significant other in a sex scene on screen? “True History of the Kelly Gang” director Justin Kurzel not only had to watch — he had to direct his wife Essie Davis in a scene with Charlie Hunnam.
“I have the privilege of being married to the director,” Davis told TheWrap’s Beatrice Verhoeven at the Toronto International Film Festival. “Charlie’s first day on set, and my second day on set, [Kurzel was like], ‘Okay, Essie, can you kneel down and Charlie can you stand there?’ I was like, ‘Hi, Charlie!’”
Kurzel added: “That was more confronting than I thought, actually, directing a scene of my wife giving fellatio to Charlie. Especially because we had just met as well, and we were still getting to know each other… and I’m sitting there and watching it on the split, I thought, wow, that is really affecting me, not in a good or bad way, it’s just, sort of, you know…”
“True History of the Kelly Gang” is about the story of outlaw and bush-ranger Ned Kelly and his family, and how Kelly fled from authorities with his “gang” during the 1970s. It is based on Peter Carey’s novel, and Shaun Grant wrote the script. George MacKay stars as the outlaw, while Davis plays his mother, and Hunnam plays a sergeant who often visits the family’s home.
“[Ned Kelly is] a notorious figure in Australia,” Kurzel said when asked why he wanted to tell this particular story, adding that Kelly was so “mythical in Australia and there was an idea there and a kind of voice that I thought I hadn’t heard and seen before that spoke to our identity as Australians, but also this notion about what is truth and whether your own history can be stolen from you.”
MacKay was attracted to the project for two reasons: The idea of family as a focal point “amidst a Justin Kurzel film.”
Hunnam agreed: “Initially, it was about the desire to work with Justin and when I read the script, I thought this was a fun challenge to make what could be played traditionally as an arch-villainous type of role… it would be nice to get really deeply inside his head and see if we could find some redeeming qualities or at least the truth of why he was behaving the way he was. Justin was clearly thinking the same thing.”
And his time on set was different for Hunnam than the other projects he’s worked on.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever showed up to a set and felt like I was just there to play and have fun,” he explained. “It was such a small role, it didn’t feel like there were any stakes — there are never any stakes — because it’s really just about you coming and trying to find some truth and reveal your heart.”
“True History of the Kelly Gang” was acquired by IFC Films at the festival and the distributor plans to release the drama in 2020.
Coveteur.com — In order for you to completely immerse yourself into this off-the-wall (in the best way possible) conversation, I should first set the scene: It’s some seven days into TIFF—a whirlwind of premieres, shoots, interviews, and after-parties—for us and for practically all of Hollywood that has descended on Toronto. We’ve managed to find a little solitude at Coffee, Oysters & Champagne’s speakeasy behind a discreet door just off the main strip of the festival. It’s calm—until, of course, Charlie Hunnam and Jessica Barden (and their entourage) infiltrate the space. The energy at that moment goes from 0 to 60. It is, excuse my language, a fucking party! But don’t get me wrong, everyone gets down to business—it’s just a grand ol’ time.
Once Barden stops spinning on a suspended Hula-Hoop (it’s being set up for an evening event) and we snapour shots of Hunnam in the shattered-glass booth, the stars of Jungleland—a poignant drama by Max Winkler about two brothers grasping at the American dream—sit down with me to chit-chat about not making a typical boxing movie, toxic masculinity, the awkwardness of watching yourself on-screen, and the lowdown on Hobnobs.
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I saw the movie, it was awesome. It’s not your average boxing movie. What drew you both to the script?
Charlie Hunnam: “That it wasn’t your average boxing movie. For me, it was just the originality and singularity of the writing—the quality of the writing and the aspirations. I like the themes; I like the idea of creating an environment that would promote classic masculinity and then subvert the relationship of the two protagonists within that environment. You know, we talked a lot about being careful not to let this cross over into any sort of homo-eroticism, but that it would be very tender and tactile between [the brothers]. They are the entire support system for each other, and part of that is needing to be loved and touched. The other part of it, which is the thing that I get most excited about in any expression of the human condition, is bringing forth your intention for life. Your hope; we all have the right to do that, you know, but not all have the ability to do it. I think that’s something that’s really awesome. Always in my mind, when I see people that are failing to [rise] to their potential…”
Jessica Barden: “Oh my god, is this an intervention? With me? [laughs]”
CH: “Jess, I really care about you… [laughs] “
JB: “I wanted to work with Jack [O’Connell] and Charlie. I’d auditioned for Max [Winkler] before, and he didn’t give me the role, so I wanted to work with him. Also I have two brothers, so I wanted to make a movie that they would be genuinely interested in watching, because I make a lot of things that they’re not interested in. Similarly to what Charlie said, we have this false idea of masculinity in men, and I just think with all the work that we’re doing on female characters and women in this industry, I also wanted to be somebody that was making sure we instilled those same values in male characters and men in the industry as well. Because it only works if everyone is working together to get the same outcome, which is creating content roles which inspire everybody to live in a different way, where it’s not as stereotyped as it has been.”
CH: “It’s a double-sided thing. This theme of masculinity has come up a lot this week. On one side, I feel as though masculinity has taken on this sort of toxic facade over the last few years, and there’s very little appetite for classic masculinity. And I understand that, and I think there is a level of toxicity in classic masculinity, but masculinity unto itself is not something that we should be trying to repress. We need to celebrate and empower the feminine, and I think that within each of us, the feminine and the masculine in both genders needs to be explored and celebrated.
“At the same time, there’s the message of being open. With men being able to be open with each other. I think, in certain parts of the world [like] Newcastle, where I grew up, which is an industrial city, where 95 percent of the people are working-class, there was a culture and dynamic of sort of classic tough masculinity exhibited and not a tradition of talking and confiding in one’s male friends. That element of masculinity where you sort of hold everything in; now [there’s a] terrible trend of suicide. The industry has dried up, and what has replaced that industry is IT. Now they have to answer the phone all day long and get screamed at, and it’s making them feel bad about themselves, and they don’t have the tools or the skill set or cultural permission to be able to say, ‘Listen, I’m hurting, I’m sad, and I’m depressed,’ and they’re looking for a way out. I think [the] vilification of masculinity is not helping that, and we do have to understand that while we empower women and empower the feminine, we also have to understand there’s a lot of dudes out there that are really struggling right now and could do with a little bit of love and support too. So I’m not going to be serious about anything else, but I just wanted to say that.”
The film is really great:
CH: “I haven’t actually seen the movie yet. I’m really excited to see it tonight.”
You haven’t? Do you find it uncomfortable to see yourself on the big screen?
CH: “It’s funny, I generally don’t watch myself, and I just decided that was going to be my approach for the last four or five years. So I haven’t seen anything. I just worked with Justin Kurzel [on True History of the Kelly Gang], and we’re working very closely together in real time all day, and he was like, ‘Well, fuck, I want you to see this film. You’re gonna see this film,’ and I said, ‘Justin, you know I don’t do that.’ And he said, ‘I don’t care, you’re barely in it, what does it matter to you? We’re working together now, and we need to reference this like in a real way, I need you to see this film.’ So I was like, ‘Fuck, I’ll see the film!’ Then I show up here and Max is like, ‘Really, you watched Kurzel’s films, did you? Interesting…’ So then you break the seal, and now I’m gonna have to start watching all my shit.” Continue reading Charlie Hunnam & Jessica Barden Get Candid with COVETEUR
Deadline.com — The world of bare-knuckle boxing is explored in Max Winkler’s TIFF entry Jungleland, which stars Charlie Hunnam as Stanley, who manages his boxer brother Lion (Jack O’Connell).
“I’d always wanted to write sort of an unconventional love story,” Winkler told us when he came to the Deadline studio, “and this one is about brothers. It’s sort of like the male dramas of American film in the ’70s—Bob Rafelson movies like The King of Marvin Gardens and Five Easy Pieces, and Hal Ashby’s The Last Detail. I love Paul Newman in Hud. I just loved these movies about masculinity, and how we mask our true emotion with these sort of faux facades of toughness, and that, paired with how much I love John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, was the early starting point for me, when I started writing this. I knew I wanted to make a movie about toxic masculinity and brotherhood, [because] this type of love story is not something you see a lot. We sent it to Charlie with our fingers crossed, and it was then that we really started kicking in gear.”
“I play the elder of the two brothers,” said Hunnam, “who is just a really passionate, open, loving dude, who has aspirations that are beyond his station. But he is relentless in his self-belief, and in faith in his brother, that they’re destined for something greater than their meager beginning in life. [That’s] the engine that pushes them through, and really, for me, it was about his existential dread. Y’know, if you start running from the dragon, and allow the dragon to grow, then there’s a certain point it becomes impossible to turn and face it—that’s one of the things that identifies or reveals the fragility of his façade of masculinity. He starts to realize that this is a losing battle, and there’s no recourse, so that’s where the great drama for him comes in: how do we get out of this impossible situation I’ve got us into?”
Deadline.com — The full story of Ned Kelly and his outlaw family isn’t widely known outside of Australia, despite several attempts to tell the story onscreen, notably a 1970 version starring The Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger in the lead. After sitting out festival season with 2016’s videogame adaptation Assassin’s Creed, Justin Kurzel returned to TIFF with his attempt to put the record straight: based on Peter Carey’s 2000 book of the same name, True History of the Kelly Gang is a loose biopic of the armed robber who was executed by hanging in 1880, aged just 25.
“In Australia, he’s made out to be a beacon,” Kurzel explained with he stopped by the Deadline Studio. “[His image] was at the beginning of our opening ceremony at the Olympics. The right-wing use him as a kind of icon. He’s been kind of stolen by everyone as something that is Australian, and I was really curious about why we place a certain sense of who we are on him. He was a kid, when he died, and there was something about poking at the mythology of him that I thought could be really, really interesting.”
To play Ned, Kurzel chose a Brit: Captain Fantastic’s George Mackay. “My dad’s Australian, and there [were] all kinds of family ties,” Mackay recalled, “so when it all came together, the opportunity of auditioning for the story and playing this part was amazing. But after auditioning for Justin in the room, and talking about the possibility of the character, and reading Peter Carey’s book, it all changed. Because I was just seeing all the surface-level things of this icon of Australia, [and I wanted to know] who this man really was. Without getting too heavy, what’s truth?”
On September 9th, Charlie arrived in Toronto, Canada for the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival where two of his upcoming films are making their premiere this week. First up, Charlie stopped by the AT&T On Location to discuss Jungleland, later followed by the Variety Studio (will have photos from this event soon!) to talk about The True History of the Kelly Gang.
Later on September 11th, Charlie joined the cast of The True History of the Kelly Gang for their premier. Followed by the premiere of Jungleland on September 12th.
Along the way Charlie sat down to discuss his films in addition to posing for new portraits! 🙂
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