He is the new king of Hollywood, Charlie Hunnam, the guy who looks more than Brad Pitt when he was young, even more than Pitt, is the lead actor in the movie King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. But Hunnam is also the protagonist of the film Lost City of Z, that it was shot in Colombia. Now and again a country decides that it’s time to spend some money to improve the climate for film and TV production.
In the past few years the Colombian government has been flying in Hollywood studio execs and producers in order to change its outdated image as an unsafe destination, promote hefty tax incentives and cash rebates, and show them attractive sites to shoot. Fascinated with the Spanish culture, Hunnam now speaks a bit of Spanish and is very immersed in our culture. We are here to talk about King Arthur a legend about honor and folklore.
Q: Is it true that you were discovered in a shoe shop, and that lead to your first gig, on Byker Grove?
A: Yeah, I was. I had already, for many years, identified that I wanted to work in film. And at that point in my life I had left school and was at a college in Carlisle, Cumbria College Of Art And Design, studying film. And just by luck of the devil, I was approached by a lady called Elizabeth Binns and asked if I’d ever thought about acting. I said well, a career in film is all I’ve ever thought about- and so through that I did a few episodes and was able to get an agent and start working.
Q: And who were your early supporters who encouraged you to get going for it?
A: My mum has always been my greatest supporter, and instilled in me a belief that, really anybody is capable of doing anything as long as you march in the direction of your dreams, and understand that it’s gonna be a lot of hardship and failure along the way. The key to reaching your destination is knowing that and having the conviction and strength to pick yourself up every time you fail and dust off and try again.
Q: Was there a point in amongst it all when you felt like you’d made it, when you knew that you could do this forever?
A: No, certainly, there’s never been a sense of that. There’s been a sense of, err, momentary relief and gratitude for being in a position, in the moment, of doing the type of work that I’d always aspired to do. I mean, particularly, you know, the year when I got to work with James Gray on The Lost City Of Z and Guy Ritchie back to back. That year, which was 2015, felt like an example of what I’d always hoped my career could be.
But I think all creative people live in constant fear that suddenly the penny will drop, and you will not have the opportunity to keep doing the work. To perpetuate the cycle.
So, I think, I, along with everybody else, just live in constant fear of, at some point, that career drying up.
Q: Talking about Lost City of Z, did you learn to speak Spanish in Colombia?
A: Yes, I found a fascinating culture there. Is a place that forever changed me. The food, the people, the passion. Sometimes, you travel to a place that has an incredible impact in your life. That happened to me in Colombia. I’m different now. I’m learning Spanish, reading authors from those countries and enjoying their food.
Q: What do you like?
A: I love to live in slow motion. Is my new thing (he laughs), seriously I do have a terrific appreciation of the people there.
Q: What authors are you reading?
A: I’m fascinated with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I think he is an amazing writer.
Q: You are playing a legend from the English history, King Arthur
A: Well, it’s great stuff, the Arthurian legend. It’s really swinging for the fences, in terms of exploring and reconciling what this whole mad journey, which we’re all on, is about. And, you know, particularly at the center of it, something that I’ve always been fascinated by, which is the relationship between fear and faith, which are obviously just two sides of the same coin.
Q: Do you ever dwell much on the things that you go for that you don’t end up doing? Like, much was made of Fifty Shades, which you were meant to be in, but then scheduling meant you couldn’t be. Do you ever think of things that could’ve been, or is it not really worth it?
Well... ultimately it’s not really worth it. I think that, more in terms of the things that I regret or dwell on – not that I really dwell on, but that haunt me from time to time – are some of the things I did that didn’t quite turn out the way I’d hoped them to. And I knew, ultimately, if I was being honest with myself that I shouldn’t have been there. And I’ve done some, accepted the roles with some strategy for forward momentum as opposed to real creative draw. They’re the only real regrets I have, is that, you know, I should’ve...But, with every regret or every failure, comes an equivalent seed of potential success. And so, what we just have to do, which sort of speaks to what we’re talking about in the greater journey of it, is just learn from those mistakes, and glean whatever wisdom one can from failure and try not to repeat it again.
Q: I’ve read that you’ve become quite picky with the things you want to go in for, and the things you want to do.
A: Yeah. And I’m a big big fan of Guy Ritchie, so I kind of just felt that it was going to be an exciting and original, sort of cool, sexy way to explore some pretty substantive things. And that, I understood right away, or was told right away, that scale with which they wanted to make this film. And so I thought it would be a nice marriage of giant world creation and the requisite level of spectacle that these type of films demand. But also, when you’re tackling the Arthurian legend, there is such substance and meat on the bone that I thought it would be a nice marriage of the two. And sometimes on these big scale movies, they sort of lack substance, so I was really excited to sit down and talk to Guy for the first time, and not only see that he was interested in some of the things that I was interested in exploring, but actually that he was far more well versed in those subjects. He has a real, pretty impressive knowledge of the human condition and particularly he’s very well versed in dialect about the ego, so I learnt a lot from him. And obviously you can see a lot of that wisdom that he’s spent years gleaning, in the film. Guy Ritchie, famously, likes to go off-script when you’re on set and develop different ideas as you’re going.