Le­gend brought to life

Char­lie Hun­nam on why sav­ing damsels in dis­tress is dis­tress­ing

Central and North Burnett Times - - SCREEN LIFE - SCREEN LIFE with Michele Manelis King Arthur: Le­gend of the Sword opens on Thurs­day.

FOR self-con­fessed germa­phobe Char­lie Hun­nam, hav­ing to per­form sex scenes with glam­orous movie stars isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. “I don’t have her­pes and I don’t want her­pes so it makes me very neu­rotic,” he re­veals.

“I don’t like kiss­ing any­one but my girl­friend, and it’s some­thing I have to over­come.

“Guys will usu­ally come and go, ‘You have the great­est job in the world. You get to kiss pretty girls for a liv­ing’. And I’m think­ing, If only you knew what a weird neu­rotic young man I am. That is the least favourite part of my job.”

Per­haps that’s why the Sons of An­ar­chy star turned down the lead role in Fifty Shades of Grey? “Nice segue. I see where you’re go­ing,” he laughs.

Happy to clear up some mis­con­cep­tions sur­round­ing his sud­den de­par­ture from the role that made a ca­reer for a fel­low Brit, Jamie Dor­nan, he says, “I didn’t turn it down. I ac­cepted it and then re­alised that I wasn’t able to do it. That is where the catas­tro­phe oc­curred for me. I can laugh about it now but at the time it was very trau­matic.

“I take my word se­ri­ously, so if I say I’m go­ing to do some­thing, I want to fol­low it through. I was in an awk­ward po­si­tion, not be­ing a par­tic­u­larly pow­er­ful en­tity in Hol­ly­wood, and break­ing a con­tract could have had sig­nif­i­cant con­se­quences. It was a very dif­fi­cult pe­riod of time in my life.

“I was go­ing through some very hard emo­tional things. At the same time, I was also com­mit­ted to Crim­son Peak, to which I’d been at­tached for a long time, and (I was at­tached to) Fifty Shades for only three weeks.

“So I pan­icked, re­ally pan­icked. I had to let it go but it was a bit­ter pill for me to swal­low.”

Now he stars in King Arthur: The Le­gend of the Sword, di­rected by Guy Ritchie, who brings his own twist to the much-loved tale.

“Any time you’re go­ing to retell a story that’s been told many times, you have to do some­thing dif­fer­ent and make it your own,” Hun­nam says.

In this role, Hun­nam re­veals the kind of physique that re­quires many hours at the gym.

“I was do­ing the last sea­son of Sons of An­ar­chy when I got hired for this, but in that sea­son I had to lose an enor­mous amount of weight. So when I went to au­di­tion for Guy I showed up look­ing like a skele­ton. He kept say­ing, ‘Are you sure you can get big?’

“There were three or four big movie stars I saw awk­wardly milling about the cor­ri­dors of this ho­tel. I said, ‘Why don’t you bring those chim­panzees in here and we’ll fight it out?’ I think that at­ti­tude is what got me the job.

“I had to look for­mi­da­ble. So I had to lift a lot of weights and do an enor­mous amount of fight­ing.”

As far as his sexy im­age, Hun­nam, 37, seems to fight it rather than flaunt it.

“I don’t try to cul­ti­vate it. I was born this way and cer­tain peo­ple seem to think I’m at­trac­tive. And it’s an as­set, but I don’t put any stock in it.

“Be­ing per­ceived as some­body who is op­er­at­ing on a cur­rency of aes­thetic (ap­peal) as op­posed to in­ter­nal sub­stance is the thing that I have fought my whole ca­reer.

“I did Cold Moun­tain (2003) and Chil­dren of Men (2006) and all these films where I tried to make my­self as ugly as pos­si­ble. But now I re­alise that some peo­ple will just rel­e­gate me to be­ing a pretty boy, and I will put as much sub­stance into ev­ery­thing I do so that, hope­fully, peo­ple will recog­nise that sub­stance.

“But look, girls com­prise one half of the au­di­ence, and gay men an­other 10%, so if you’re ap­peal­ing to 60%, that’s pretty handy.” He smiles.

“I’m grate­ful that peo­ple think I’m sexy.”

PHOTO: DANIEL SMITH

◗ Astrid Berges-Fris­bey and Char­lie Hun­nam in a scene from King Arthur: Le­gend of the Sword.

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