During an interview about his forthcoming film King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, actor Charlie Hunnam turns the (round) table on an interviewer.
Who would win in a fight? The valiant King Arthur with his magical Excalibur? Or the gun-running Jackson “Jax” Teller on Sons of Anarchy?
First, the similarities, of which Hunnam feels are aplenty.
“First and foremost, they look pretty similar. … Sorry, that was a terrible joke,” Hunnam says with a laugh.
“Seriously, they’re both ordinary men called to do extraordinary things. There are no great men. Just ordinary men called to greatness through circumstance. That’s a narrative I’m drawn to over and over again.”
Both of them were in situations dictated by their birthright.
“There are these really lofty destinies, neither of which they chose for themselves. Both wanted to deny them,” Hunnam says. “Denying one’s destiny is not that simple. I didn’t intend for there to be that many similarities.
“I played Jax for seven years and I just finished Sons of Anarchy when I went into this movie. There was inevitably going to be a bit of a hangover from one character to another.”
Hunnam stars as King Arthur in the Guy Ritchie-directed flick due in theaters Friday, May 12. When the child Arthur’s father is murdered, Vortigern (Jude Law), Arthur’s uncle, seizes the crown. Robbed of his birthright and with no idea who he truly is, Arthur comes up the hard way in the back alleys of the city. But once he pulls the sword from the stone, his life is turned upside down and he is forced to acknowledge his true legacy, whether he likes it or not.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword also features Oscar nominee Law (Cold Mountain, The Talented Mr. Ripley), Astrid Bergès-Frisbey (Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides) as Mage; Oscar nominee Djimon Hounsou (Blood Diamond, In America) as Bedivere; and Eric Bana (Star Trek) as Arthur’s father, King Uther Pendragon.
Hunnam says that Ritchie taught him how to have fun at work.
“I tend to be pretty serious about the work I do,” he says. “I go in with a lot of preparation, quietly executing my game plan. Guy said that’s all well and good, but I don’t know what we’ll be shooting. You should be prepared to be a little lighter on your feet. We want this to be really fun. Then, when Guy was in the editing room, if we were having fun, the material he gets will be fun. That was a really liberating, new approach for me to filmmaking.”
Hunnam calls King Arthur a kind of “every man,” a story for all people.
“Arthur is historically rendered as this very noble man, who goes on this noble quest to become the noble king,” he says.
“It’s quite elitist in that rendering. What we wanted to do was make Arthur an ‘every man.’ The most exciting thing about this film is that it’s a universal language. People from all parts of the world and all cultures can take something from this. Ultimately, it’s about how do we become the best version of ourselves?”
Doing so evokes fear because everyone endures failure and difficult circumstances, Hunnam adds.
“It’s a lovely story,” he says. “The people I’m most excited about seeing this film is the younger generation. It seems to me that, in the kids of today, there is a lot of disillusionment in the world. My little brother is much, much younger. He just graduated university, where he studied genetics and graduated at the top of his class. I’m so proud of him.
“But when I told him I was proud, he was so dismissive. He said, ‘Maybe now I’ll be able to get a job at McDonald’s.’ That’s a little insight into the youth of today. I firmly believe that anybody in this world is capable of anything. If you get knocked down five times, then you get up six. You only have one life. Live that life as fully as you can. That, I think, is the ultimate message of this film.”
More importantly, Hunnam says he believes that Teller and King Arthur would be “pals in real life.”
“They seem like similar souls, those two guys,” he says. “I think that’s alright. I like them both. I’d like to go out for a beer with both of them. As for the fight? King Arthur has the magical sword, which is lovely for him. But Jax is a gun runner. I’ll have to go with Jax on that one.”