Whether it’s on a show like Sons of Anarchy or in a movie like Pacific Rim, Charlie Hunnam is one of those actors you can’t help but watch whenever he walks into the frame. He has this charisma and almost a certain edge that makes you love him when he’s playing a more heroic character and love to hate him when he’s taking on a more antagonistic and menacing role.
And while it would be great to go through and talk about all the great Charlie Hunnam movies and TV shows, for the sake of brevity, today we’re just going to dive into 10 of the actor’s best performances from various points in his career that make a case for him being one of the great and underappreciated actors of our time.
Sons Of Anarchy (2008 - 2014)
The landmark FX drama series Sons of Anarchy, which is essentially Hamlet on wheels, follows the titular motorcycle club, also known as SAMCRO, based in the fictional small town of Charming, California, with a main focus on club vice president (and later president) Jax Teller (Charlie Hunnam), the son of the group’s late co-founder. Created by Kurt Sutter, the series was one of the most popular around during its seven-season run, and served as a launching pad for young actors as well as a major platform for the likes of Katey Sagal, Ron Perlman, and Taylor Sheridan before he left the show to pursue work behind the scenes that culminated with Yellowstone.
Through it all, Charlie Hunnam’s portrayal of Jax Teller, a man being pulled in every direction, is brilliant and is a good reason why so many associate the actor with the role even years after its final episode aired.
The Lost City Of Z (2016)
The 2016 biographical drama The Lost City of Z, written and directed by James Gray, explores the life and times of famed British adventurer Percy Fawcett (Charlie Hunnam) as he sets off on a dangerous expedition into the heart of the Amazon rainforest to find and document what he believes to be a lost civilization. Risking his family, reputation, and life, Fawcett, alongside his son Jack (Tom Holland), aims to prove everyone wrong (even his own fears and doubts) in one final attempt to track the rumored “lost city of Z” once and for all.
Though not all that successful at the box office, The Lost City of Z was a critical hit and has since become one of the best movies on Amazon for those seeking thrilling adventure and the exploration of the human spirit.
King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword (2017)
If you ever wanted to see how Guy Ritchie would handle Arthurian legends, look no further than the 2017 action-adventure film King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. In this take on the legendary tale, Arthur (Charlie Hunnam) rises through the ranks to take back his rightful throne after his uncle, Vortigern (Jude Law), claims it as his own following the death of the king, Arthur’s father. Filled with Ritchie’s trademark fast-paced action, smash mouth dialogue, and general sense of coolness, the movie is made all the better thanks to Hunnam’s charismatic portrayal of King Arthur.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword wasn’t the biggest success at the box office and received a great deal of unfavorable reviews, but don’t let that take the wind out of this fun movie’s sails.
Cold Mountain (2003)
One of the biggest movies of the year in 2003, the Civil War epic Cold Mountain tells the story of Confederate soldier W.P. Inman (Jude Law), as he fights like hell to get back to the love of his life, Ada (Nicole Kidman), in North Carolina. But W.P. isn’t the only one fighting battles and facing uncertainty as he works his way back home, as Ada is forced to not only keep her modest farm in working order, but also ward off the villainous Captain Teague (Ray Winstone) and his right-hand man, Bosie (Charlie Hunnam), who will do just about anything to take the land and Ada’s hand.
Charlie Hunnam’s take on the creepy and downright deranged character is brilliant here and provides for some of the more intense moments in Cold Mountain, and helps make this one of the best movies on Netflix.
Nicholas Nickleby (2002)
Douglas McGrath’s 2002 adaptation of the classic Charles Dickens serial The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby (shortened to Nicholas Nickleby here), follows the iconic, titular 19-year-old (Charlie Hunnam) as he goes from one situation to the next in Victorian era England, making friends and enemies while trying to make a better life for both his family and himself. In addition to Hunnam, the film’s all-star cast includes Anne Hathaway, Jamie Bell, Nathan Lane, Christopher Plummer, and more than a dozen other great acting talents, who are all top-notch here.
Already a rising star by the time he led Nicholas Nickleby, Charlie Hunnam’s career began to reach new heights from here and never really looked back.
Queer As Folk (1999 - 2000)
Not to be confused with the Showtime/Showcase co-production of the same name that became all the rage in the early 2000s, Russell T Davies’ 1999 dramedy series, Queer as Folk, follows three gay men — Stuart Allen Jones (Aidan Gillen), Vince Tyler (Craig Kelly), and Nathan Maloney (Charlie Hunnam) balancing life, love, and their various social circles. All three of the leads in the series are phenomenal throughout the show’s 10 episodes, and would all go on to have successful careers in the years following its debut.
The show itself became highly influential and is still talked about more than 20 years after it completed its two-season run in February 2000.
Children of Men (2006)
Alfonso Cuarón’s 2006 dystopian thriller Children of Men remains not only one of the best movies to feature Charlie Hunnam in the cast, but also one of the best movies of the past decade-and-a-half. Set in a world that has been ravaged by an infertility epidemic followed by a catastrophic influenza outbreak, the movie tells the story of Theo Faron (Clive Owen), a bureaucrat and former activist who is thrown back into the chaos of his former life when he is asked by his ex-wife, Julian Taylor (Julianne Moore), to escort an asylum seeker named Kee (Clare-Hope Ashitey), who happens to be the first pregnant woman in nearly 20 years.
Along the way, Theo and Kee have to evade a group of militant radicals known as the Fishes, including two of their more prominent figures — Luke (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and Patric (Charlie Hunnam) — who aren’t as noble as they would make you believe. An absolute emotional gut-punch, Children of Men is more than deserving of a revisit or first watch.
Crimson Peak (2015)
Guillermo del Toro’s 2015 gothic horror film Crimson Peak follows Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska) as she falls in love with Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston), a charming, seductive, and mysterious man who comes in and takes her away to a sprawling estate he shares with his equally mysterious (and creepy) sister, Lady Lucille Sharpe (Jessica Chastain). Separated from her family, friends, and everyone and everything she has ever known, Edith attempts to make sense of the strange happenings (and ghost sightings) that plague the mansion, which seems to be falling apart.
While this is going on, Dr. Alan McMichael (Charlie Hunnam), one of Edith’s closest friends back home, begins to investigate the strange brother and sister on his own, leading to him traveling to the remote mansion to confront the evil that lies there once and for all.
Undeclared (2001 - 2002)
Following the cancellation of Freaks and Geeks in 2000 after only one season, Judd Apatow turned his attention to college life with the short-lived comedy series, Undeclared. Over the course of the show’s first and only season, Apatow introduced audiences to a group of college freshmen, with the primary focus on Steven Karp (Jay Baruchel) and his circle of friends. This includes Ron Garner (Seth Rogen), a nerdy Canadian with a dry sense of humor, and smooth-talking Englishman Lloyd Haythe (Charlie Hunnam).
Despite it only lasting 18 episodes before Fox pulled the plug, Undeclared has since become another Judd Apatow cult classic and gave future stars like Kevin Hart, Jenna Fischer, and Jason Segel plenty of time to shine.
Pacific Rim (2013)
And then there is Guillermo del Toro’s 2013 kaiju vs. giant robots action flick, Pacific Rim. Set years after the towering monsters first walked out of the ocean and destroyed countless cities and killed billions worldwide, the movie follows a ragtag group of soldiers who use Jaegers to take on the fearsome beasts.
After years of endless fighting having put humanity on the brink of extinction, it all comes down to one final shot at survival, when Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) and Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) attempt to impossible: connect through the neural bridge to bring an old Jaeger into one final fight before it’s too late.
This is just a small portion of all the great Charlie Hunnam movies and TV shows worth checking out. And, with an actor with his charisma and talented, expect to see even more great performances out of him as the years go on.
Philip grew up in Louisiana (not New Orleans) before moving to St. Louis after graduating from Louisiana State University-Shreveport. When he's not writing about movies or television, Philip can be found being chased by his three kids, telling his dogs to stop yelling at the mailman, or yelling about professional wrestling to his wife. If the stars properly align, he will talk about For Love Of The Game being the best baseball movie of all time.
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