What Charlie Hunnam Wanted To Accomplish In Guy Ritchie's King Arthur

Charlie Hunnam As King Arthur with Excalibur on his back

This summer, the legendary King Arthur will once again be coming to the silver screen -- but he won't exactly be identical to the interpretations we've seen before. Reenvisioned by writer/director Guy Ritchie, the new version of Arthur will not carry with him the previous preconceived notions of other adaptations - as star Charlie Hunnam recently explained to us that the entire idea behind this new version is to reinvent and reexamine the great medieval character. Said Hunnam,

We thought the whole thing was up for interpretation, frankly. There were moments of the story, not necessarily the character, that I felt were benchmarks that had to be hit. You have to have him pulling the sword from the stone, you have to have Camelot, you have to have Lady in the Lake and the roundtable, and the knights and all of that. But in terms of rendering the character himself, we just wanted to make sure that it was fresh and modern and had something to say that hadn't been said before.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Charlie Hunnam this week in Las Vegas, where he was at CinemaCon promoting his titular role in the upcoming King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. While on the press line before the Warner Bros. presentation, I asked the actor about his collaboration with Guy Ritchie and what they felt could change and what needed to stay from the legend, and he revealed that there was actually nothing about the character specifically that was too sacred to change.

Going further, Charlie Hunnam explained that he and Guy Ritchie felt that the best treatment for the character would actually be to look at the legendary hero in a different light. Rather than simply being a righteous man who becomes a righteous king, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword will instead see him take a much longer journey in terms of morality. The actor continued,

We've all seen the version of Arthur who is the noble man who goes on the journey to be the noble king. And [Guy Ritchie] said we wanted to do the opposite of that. We wanted to make him a little bit of a motherfucker, you know? He starts off and he's tough, and he's street-wise, and he's a little bit selfish. But at the center of it he's got a great heart. And he's doing great for himself! He's got a lovely life worked out for himself with his crew in London, and he gets presented with this massive destiny. He doesn't really want it, but you don't get to choose your destiny. That's why it's called destiny. So it's not that simple, and the story begins.

With a smile, Charlie Hunnam also noted that it wasn't exactly hard to wrap his mind around the approach either. Really, as soon as he knew that it was the director of Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels taking on The Knights Of The Roundtable, he knew what the game was:

It didn't take a huge amount to reach for this character, because as soon as I heard 'Guy Ritchie/King Arthur' I sort of just got a flavor of what that was going to be. And so that's what we did!

You can watch Charlie Hunnam not talk only talk about King Arthur: Legend of the Sword in the video below, but also how his career has changed since leaving Jax Teller of Sons of Anarchy behind:

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, which also stars Jude Law, Eric Bana, Djimon Hounsou, Annabelle Wallis, will be in theaters on May 12th. Be sure to stay tuned for more coverage of the film here on CinemaBlend as we get closer to the release date.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.