It's been an eventful year thus far for Charlie Hunnam. After getting good reviews for his role as real-life British explorer Percy Fawcett in The Lost City of Z, the former Sons of Anarchy star is now getting much buzz for his portrayal of the titular character in #GuyRitchie's fantasy action epic, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.
Playing the legendary English king who pulls the mythical sword Excalibur from the stone made the Newcastle-born actor's childhood dream come true. In an interview with Good Morning America, he revealed:
“When I was about six or seven, John Boorman‘s ‘Excalibur‘ was one of my favorites. It was a time when I’d already identified that I love film but I started to dream, as kids do, that maybe that would be what I could do as a career.”
After the seven-season #SonsofAnarchy ended in 2014, and learning that casting had begun for Ritchie's production of #KingArthur, Hunnam sincerely believed that he was the best man for the job, only to discover that there were many obstacles to overcome first. Here were his five biggest challenges:
1. He Wasn't The Director's First Choice
Hunnam was not Ritchie's first choice for the leading role of King Arthur. In fact, he's not even in the British director's top ten or even top 100. As Ritchie admitted in an interview with Total Film:
"I had hundreds of actors, Charlie wasn't on my list."
2. He Was Too Skinny
During their first meeting, Hunnam also realized that Ritchie wasn't too impressed with his physique as he had lost a lot of weight for the last season of Sons of Anarchy. The actor explained to ET:
"I showed up very, very skinny, and (Ritchie) wanted someone who was sort of physically imposing for the role."
3. He Was Up Against Superman And Magneto
During the same meeting, sensing he was not winning many brownie points, Hunnam was so gung-ho in wanting the role of King Arthur that he told Ritchie that he'd be willing to fight any of the "big, well-known" actors who auditioned on the same day. These were rumored to be superhero types the likes of Henry "Superman" Cavill, who worked with Ritchie on The Man From U.N.C.L.E., and the equally muscular Michael Fassbender (X-Men series, Assassin's Creed). Hunnam told ET that in a fit of desperation, he threw the following challenge to a bemused Ritchie:
"Why don't you just bring them all in here and we'll fight, and whoever walks out the room, gets the role?"
4. He Had To Right A Negative Perception
Hunnam soon learned that Ritchie — a director whose work Hunnam admired — not only didn't see Sons of Anarchy or his other films, he only saw Charlie in "the thing I was really least proud of in all the work I've done." Hunnam didn't reveal which piece of work it was.
As a result, the actor felt he simply needed to right Ritchie's negative perception of him. Hunnam even paid for his own flight from Los Angeles to London to arrange another audition with the director. His persistence paid off, as Ritchie affirmed to Total Film:
"Charlie was so insistent that he was going to be King Arthur that he became King Arthur, in spite of my reticence... (He was) the only guy who kept coming back, the only guy that could sustain my interest. So he won it fair and square, in spite of my prejudice."
5. He Had To Buff Up For The Role
After getting his dream role, Hunnam then had to buff up for the role of King Arthur as Ritchie's version is a rough-around-the-edges, young man who grew up in the streets and indulges much in punch-throwing, bare-knuckle fighting as well as endless swordplay. Placed on a strict training regime comprising sword training, boxing and intense strength workouts, plus a specially-designed diet, Hunnam managed to pack on 20 pounds of muscle before shooting started on the film in 2015.
Sons Of Camelot
Thanks to Hunnam's dogged pursue of his childhood dream, it's likely we will see one of the most refreshing big-screen portrayals of the legendary king of Camelot. In the past week, special preview screenings of King Arthur: Legend of The Sword have been held in both the US and the UK, and word of mouth has generally been good for the action-and-effects-packed film; even more so for its leading man.
If King Arthur becomes a huge success, Warner Bros Pictures is likely to churn out a six-film series based on the legends of Camelot, and Hunnam is more than happy to "make another 20 films with Guy, let alone six." As he confirmed to ET, he's all ready to make more King Arthur films:
"I signed on for three. I'd do as many as Guy wanted to do."
Check out the amusing promo trailer Charlie Hunnam and Jude Law did for Comedy Central entitled, "King Arthur Presents Throne Shade":
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword hits theaters on May 12.
What is your favorite Charlie Hunnam role thus far?
(Sources: Total Film, ET, Good Morning America)