CHARLIE HUNNAM - KING ARTHUR

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Charlie Hunnam has shared the screen with Idris Elba, Clive Owen, and Nicole Kidman. But none compare to his latest sparring buddy in latest flick, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword

Mr. David Beckham. “I’d be quite friendly with him now. He’s not on speed dial, but I’d have a drink with him. He’s a great guy.”

There’s a gracious flippancy to Charlie Hunnam’s humble bragging— if you could ever call it that. He crumples and blushes at the mention of any flattery; it’s just not his style, which makes him stand out from the rest of the Hollywood ilk. 

Typically handsome in a white shirt and jeans, his blond hair cropped and tufty, his matching beard bushy and gnarled, he’s in relaxed, composed humor while chatting about his latest venture, and arguably his highest profile role to date as King Arthur. But rather than the traditional Camelot culture of valor, Hunnam is playing Guy Ritchie’s Arthur, a cheeky every man, raised in the slums, unaware of his royal lineage until he drags the fabled sword from the stone, which poses a problem for Jude Law’s dastardly king. 

In polished, chatty manner, the 36-year-old talks banter with Guy Ritchie and bulking up for the part of King Arthur Which he claims is the last time. He also discusses his future with Sons of Anarchy, trusting in the stars and what he learned from Fifty Shades.

VS:  I Imagine -[Arthur] was quite a contested role in Hollywood, how did you land it?

HUNNAM: Fuck knows. Fuck knows because he didn’t want to see me. He wanted nothing to do with me. So, no idea but I’m very glad I did. Think it was just in the stars. It all clicked into place, so it felt like, yeah it’s aligning nicely, maybe this will go my way. I was shooting Sons [of Anarchy] when I heard Guy was looking for actors. He was doing his search in London. And I thought, "I’m out of contention there, all tied up." And then I got a week off from production, and I flew to London but yeah, Guy was not interested. So, I was going to make him interested. I’m a likable guy. Got to his house, sat down with the man, he’s a great man, just talked and talked and after 90 minutes, I realized we had been talking exclusively about the California medical marijuana initiative. I thought, go with it, he’s still talking with me. And we went on for another hour or so. And when I left, I thought, Shit, we never said a thing about Arthur. But it worked, he called me the next day, I read for him and c’est la vie. 

VS:  And what is Guy like to work with?

HUNNAM: This was honestly one of the best experiences, just for pure fun and adventure and really letting go, that I’ve ever had on a film set. Ever. You know, Guy would say to me, "Before we do this, the one thing I want from you, I want you to show up every day and have fun because if we’re having fun. The tone is where we want it to be and the audience will have fun." Like they always do in a Guy Ritchie film.

VS:  So Excalibur had a big influence on you as a kid?

HUNNAM: Yes, though I was way too young to be watching it. I think I was like five, or six; I used to see it all as a kid. I watched an enormous amount that was highly inappropriate. Which I think is cool because kids are so infantilized these days, wrapped up in cotton wool. I just got, I loved the legend, loved the odyssey nature of that journey. As a kid, I was into the sword fighting and horse riding. That just captured my mind. That’s what encouraged me to be an actor. I thought how wonderful it would be to be able to do those things, live out fantasies, and do those things that would appeal to a child. Ironically, I am an actor and the things that appealed to me as a child are the things I least like about my job now. But it was an entry into this concept of living a life in

VS:  What doesn’t appeal to you now that appealed to you as a child?

HUNNAM: The sword fighting and that— it all requires immense preparation which is very labor intensive. It’s not as fun as it looks like a kid. It’s a lot more mental than it is physical as well. For the final scene, it’s maybe a seven-minute scene, but you need to learn 700, 800 beats and know how that goes in succession, in the dance. And then you’re swinging around this sharp piece of metal that could hurt someone pretty bad. Which didn’t happen (laughs). But yeah, I found myself quite obsessed with running those sequences over and over. Now, what appeals to me the exploration of the human condition. For instance, Arthur is very big glossy, commercial film. But at the heart of it, Guy and I were really trying to explore some interesting things that were really appealing to us about the human condition. What it requires to overcome fears and trust. Our sense of hope, or our perception of personal identity and overcoming conflicts, and the conflicts are only getting worse through a perception of self, through the prism of our fears. What is a challenge and a conflict to one person, isn’t always to another because of the prism of your experience and how that experience manifests an emotional response in you.

At the heart, that’s what the story of Arthur is. Overcoming those personal hurdles, in order to rise to the challenge of conquering the insurmountable odds of becoming the King of England and fighting in this incarnation, in a literal sense, the demon at the castle walls. 

VS:  Critics are calling this the first modern King Arthur because there have been many others versions. did you watch any to prepare?

HUNNAM: Not at all, I’ve only really seen the John Boorman version. I haven’t seen any other incarnations. I’ve read Once a Future King. I think just in the sensibility of Guy as a filmmaker, it’s the most contemporary, gritty version that’s been committed to on film so far; I’d put money down that that’s accurate. You know I think reinventing something for a modern audience in this environment of filmmaking required someone like Guy to make it feel fresh and new and have something to say that hadn’t already been said. It’s no accident that the studio picked Guy as the man to realize this vision. This is one of the oldest stories; people have been telling it for 1,500 years at this point, so for him to take it and create this fresh, brittle outlook in his very signature way, very punchy, gritty, cheeky, just excited me from the first time I heard he was doing it. Guy compartmentalizes the filmmaking process and applies himself to things he’s excited about and lets other things be what they’re going to be until they’re not exciting to him or interesting to him and then he steps in. Specific to the fighting, surprisingly, he had no opinion about that. I think that he’d obviously had conversations with the stunt teams and the choreographers, and they had defined their aspirations for what these would be, but I had very few conversations with him about that. As is the case with productions of this size, we shot a lot of that stuff on the second unit. That sword fight at the end of the movie, Guy wasn’t even on set, during that. He would watch the rushes and stuff, which was a pain in the arse, because he would inevitably have an opinion and we’d have to reshoot it all. But that’s how it goes in these big films.

VS:  David Beckham did an incredible job too! What was he like to work with?

HUNNAM: Oh my god, It became so clear to me within 

the first hour or working with him, that he’s one of the, you know, I see, that’s why you’re one of the biggest, most celebrated football players. There was a work ethic and determination; he wasn’t just there to have a laugh. He was determined; he was serious about doing a good job. He’d been working with an acting coach and been taking it so seriously. It speaks volumes to his work ethic. I got a taste of what his whole career has been about, relentless practice and hard work and that’s how he got to the place where he is.

VS:  Did you find yourself awestruck around him?

HUNNAM: For me, he didn’t have the epic aura about him because I’m not, and have never been a football man. I’d never, yeah even now, I’ve never seen him play football, obviously, I’m acutely aware of who he was, everyone knows who he is, and he has that star power about him, you can’t deny it. I wasn’t dumbstruck the way others were on set. You know the film crew, in particular; they’re these butch manly men, the sparks, the gaffers, the electricians all those boys, these hairy, bulky men all turned into 15 year old girls at a Justin Bieber concert because Beckham was on set. I was like, pull yourselves together. 

VS:  You got physically ripped for this movie. You’ve always been in great shape, but how did you get so big and bulked up for this role?

HUNNAM: I was just trying to keep up with all these burly, beefy guys around me. They were literally everywhere; I couldn’t let the side down, I was fucking Arthur. So I turned it up, got up to about 180 and that is not easy to carry around. 

VS: You look like you‘re doing ok with it?

HUNNAM: I’m way smaller now, and I’m happy for it to go that way. I’m a naturally very slim, skinny guy; I’m nothing like a lot of the characters, particularly ones of recent that I’ve played, Physically, I’m so far removed. The next role I did after Arthur for Lost City of Z, I dropped down maybe 40 pounds. That’s getting closer to who I really am. And I like that; I feel comfortable at that level. Not this freakish, abbed up, gym dude. 

VS:  It’s been three, four years since Fifty Shades, how do you look back at that time and what do you think you’ve learned?

HUNNAM: What have I learned from it? Ooh, I don’t know, if I learned anything. Maybe I’m not that enlightened a person. So when I think back on all that, I don’t know what to think. You know, decisions are very very difficult to make for everybody. I know I really struggle with indecisiveness. We have this abundance of choice in modern society, and I think that it has a tendency to create a lot of misery. The paradox of choice, you think on the surface, an abundance of choice is an incredibly positive thing, but actually, it creates a lot of discontent. If you do this, what if you don’t do that, you make one decision, but you have all these other things hanging out from there. I am in a position, by far and away, the best position I’ve ever been in my career regarding the opportunities that are being given to me. But I feel more neurotic now than I ever have, because of all these fucking decisions I have to make all the time. There are now stakes to what decisions I make. Fuck that; they’re shouldn’t be. I can’t handle that in my life. It’s only our perception I guess, I hope. Sometimes you think, fuck, I should have done that. I am very labored in my decision-making process,  but once the decision is made I force myself never to look back.

VS:  Have you seen either of the (Fifty Shades of Grey) the movies?

HUNNAM: Haven’t seen them. 

VS:  Did you do that intentionally?

HUNNAM: Yeah, so I wouldn’t have to have an opinion when people ask me in situations like this. Yeah, I stay away.

VS:  Do you have any regrets at all? 

HUNNAM: I have no regrets, really I don’t. I try not to. You know, this will sound so high flatulent and wanky, But I really try to force myself to live in the present and not project happiness and perceived happiness on the past or future events. Certainly, I don’t look backward in any of my current happiness as a result of current decisions made. I always think ultimately, I genuinely feel everything happens for a reason and I put a lot of stock on that. I do. You know, I got to know Dakota kind of a little bit and grew to like her enormously, and I got to know Sam the director, very well, made good friends with her. I am just really just delighted that it’s been so successful for them, and so very helpful both to their careers. But I didn’t feel any sort of sting or anything.

VS:  Sons of Anarchy. Will you be making an appearance in any future projects?

HUNNAM: Probably not, being deceased and all (laughs). I know it’s TV land, but it’s not JR Ewing here, death means death. 

VS:  But there’s the prequel show is there now!

HUNNAM: There is (laughs)? 

VS:  So you could show up in that?

HUNNAM: Again, I don’t know because it’s based more around the Mayans than the Sons, and they’re planning to place it in the fifties and sixties so yeah, I don’t know how I’d fit in there. I’m pretty sure I’m done. Moving onto new pastures. This is looking at the origin of motorcycle culture, the genesis of outlaws, it’s going to be pretty cool.

 

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