Charlie Hunnam, the star of Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, has revealed the blood, sweat and tears that went into his performance in the film as well as what it was like to work with David Beckham and what could be on the cards in a potential sequel.
The Newcastle-born actor is perhaps best known for playing Jax Teller on the always-entertaining Sons of Anarchy series, chronicling the violent trials and tribulations of an California-based outlaw motorcycle club.
However, coming into King Arthur off the back of the final series of the show, Hunnam revealed to loaded that he faced something of a physical challenge before filming started.
“I was very, very skinny. I had been doing the last season of Sons of Anarchy and I’d lost a lot of weight and so I had to get double busy,” he said.
“I put on like 25 pounds of muscle, just by eating and doing press ups. I set a silly goal for myself, just as challenge, to do 1,000 press ups a day, which I did for the most part. Along with some pull-ups, and some dips and just bodyweights stuff.”
“I put on like 25 pounds of muscle, just by eating and doing press ups”
“I was doing it old school too, in the park, like an old man. No gym time at all.”
It all proved worth it, with Hunnam cutting a pretty athletic figure in the final film, which represents arguably the most enjoyable version of the Arthurian legend ever put to the big screen – sorry Clive Owen.
Fusing Ritchie’s familiar approach with the classic story handed down from generation to generation, the result is a movie that’s the perfect blend of Game of Thrones magic, murder and mayhem with a little Londinium Lock Stock-style cockney charm thrown in for good measure.
It helps that in Jude Law’s King Vortican, the film has the perfect conniving villain, who sets off on a quest to find and destroy Arthur.
Despite some notable changes to the old legend, however, Hunnam feels that the message of the story remains as enduring and timeless as ever.
“King Arthur is dealing, as a lot of the ancient stories did, with trying to ask and provide some answer to the big questions of life. Like what is is all about, what does it mean and how do we derive purpose from this journey? It’s the age old conflict between fear and faith, the same conflict between good and evil.”
“It’s been told a 1,000 times in 1,000 different ways. Like Luke Skywalker’s journey in Star Wars. As Darth Vader represents the dark side and Luke the light, it’s the same with King Vortican and Arthur in this story.”
Obviously there’s one notable difference this time round that few have failed to notice – the presence of a certain David Beckham in one particular scene.
And while some have been critical of Becks’ efforts in his small role, Hunnam has only good things about the man.
“I think one of the really exciting elements of the Arthurian legends … is the love triangle that develops between Arthur and Guinevere and Lancelot”
“I was not star struck [by Beckham] as I’m not a football man but I thought he was a remarkable character, just in how ordinary and kind and humble he was to everyone around him. I found it quite inspiring because he really didn’t have to. He’s not an actor, he’s got no aspirations to be an actor but he was determined to do a good job and I really thought it spoke to his good character.”
So what does the future hold for King Arthur? With plans in place for as many as five sequels, Hunnam has a pretty good idea of where he would like to take the story next.
“I think one of the really exciting elements of the Arthurian legends and one of the most beloved, which we didn’t have time to explore in this film is the love triangle that develops between Arthur and Guinevere and Lancelot. King Arthur finds his true love in Guinevere and best friend in Lancelot and then they betray him and get a little bit naughty together and that’s terribly upsetting to old ‘Artie’.”
And would David Beckham return?
“I like him enormously and the few times I have seen him, over at Guy’s house, it’s been great. I think it would be fantastic to bring him back.”
King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword arrives in cinemas on 18 May