An impossibly long time ten years ago Charlie Hunnam starred as cuter than cute Nathan Maloney in the Russell T. Davies Channel 4 series Queer as Folk.
Since then he’s been living in the States and is now back on British screens in hit US series Sons of Anarchy in which he plays biker Jackson “Jax” Teller.
We caught up with Charlie to discuss his role and the series which you can catch on Wednesday’s at 10pm on Bravo.
Seenit.co.uk: Good morning.
Charlie: Hey. How are you?
Seenit.co.uk: Thank you so much for doing this interview.
Charlie: Oh, you’re welcome.
Seenit.co.uk: Where in the world am I catching you?
Charlie: I am in Los Angeles.
Seenit.co.uk: Okay so it’s morning, right?
Charlie: Yeah it is morning. 9:30 in the morning.
Seenit.co.uk: How early?
Seenit.co.uk: Oh okay, so it’s not that early.
Seenit.co.uk: We don’t have a lot of time so I’m just going to shoot the questions, is that okay?
Charlie: Okay. Yeah. Absolutely.
Seenit.co.uk: Great. First question that we have is how much of you is in Jack’s? What do you connect to when you portray him and what is more difficult for you to?
Charlie: I think that more and more we become intertwined as I live with him longer. Certainly my understanding of him, I don’t have to explore the material as much to find the answers, I just understand him more and more but I guess that I really relate to his not his inability, but his reluctance to live a 9-5 type of existence. I, from a very early age, decided that I wanted to do something that I could get to travel and kind of do a variety of work and a variety of places and I think that kind of a freedom to my life that seems to be one of the foundations of what draws people today to the world of outlawed motorcycle lifestyle.
I guess, in terms to what I find most difficult, I don’t know, it’s to just to maintain, I think it is very important to keep a sense of justice and right and wrong with this guy and sometimes the way, the situations he gets put into it’s difficult to, it’s sometimes life, the way he reacts in some situations, sometimes flies in the face of my understanding of him psychologically and in those instances you have to kind of dig a little deeper.
Seenit.co.uk: All in all, he is a very good character; even when he does bad stuff.
Charlie: Yeah. Yeah.
Seenit.co.uk: Unlike other characters.
Charlie: Yeah. Absolutely. So.
Seenit.co.uk: Oh. I’ve read and I’ve noticed it myself, that the narrative of the whole resembles Hamlet a lot. Do you feel that? Do you feel like you’re doing Hamlet?
Charlie: Yeah. I mean, I think specifically with the first season, Hamlet was a very specific template that was followed. Setting up the dynamic of the world and us being the kind of royal family of this world and obviously I think that it will continue to in a broader sense elements of Hamlet that will come through as the season progresses. But I think it was an interesting and a well known dynamic that I felt made this world and that it hadn’t really been explored very much and people didn’t know anything about, a little more accessible in a way, because you kind of understand at least the template of the story going into it and then you’re free to kind of explore the new answers of the world through that.
But yeah, I think that in terms, I think it was very, very similar to Hamlet the first season in terms of the ghost of the father and the narrative of the uncle is kind of taking over and the powerful queen and the son and all of that. And I think that in the second season we kind of lost some of those similarities and just did away with following that narrative more closely but like I said, I think in the future some of the more sweeping elements will return
Seenit.co.uk: The second season is about to be aired in Israel. We only have the first one.
Seenit.co.uk: But it’s more much more extreme than the first one and much more extreme than many TV series that we watched. How did you feel about the script when you first read it about the whole rape thing, which was horrible?
Charlie: Yeah. You know.
Seenit.co.uk: And the violence, which is much more than we’re used to on television.
Charlie: Yeah. I think that it’s, I think that TV with the basic cable, the way basic cable is structured in America, definitely does give a creator license to go a little further and I think that’s why the show found it’s home on basic cable because Kurt, our creator is always, he gets to push the envelope and frankly I, one really has to find peace. I am a writer also and I am very, very, very opinionated about what I do and have a very, whether I have the power to implement change or not I always have very, very strong opinion going into films which I why I have done very few films because I think I have too strong opinions about most things so I turn down probably thirty or forty offers to every one that I accept. But the thing is, we are on a TV show with so many actors, you can, there really needs to just be one voice and that’s the voice of the creator. Because if everybody was chipping their opinion and then there’d be too may cooks in the kitchen and we wouldn’t get anything done.
At times I have wondered if it was a little too extreme, but ultimately I just need to not question the material because I’m potentially going to be doing this TV show for a long time and I found that I needed to make peace with just really trusting Kurt and trusting the material and not questioning it too much because ultimately I don’t really have any say to change it anyway so why drive myself crazy. But also by that, don’t want to give the wrong impression because I think Kurt is fantastically talented and it’s very rare that I do have any kind of big problem with the stuff that is presented to us. It’s just sometimes a challenge to play it because it is very dramatic big stuff. The challenge sometimes is to find the realness in it and keep it grounded, you know?
Seenit.co.uk: What is it difficult for the cast to work like this? Everything happens between you and Ron Purman in the plot, does this affect the relationship? Or are you and Katy?
Seenit.co.uk: You really seem to want to kill him, you know, when you want to kill him.
Charlie: Yeah. Yeah the season really, we got to do a lot of fun stuff. I don’t know how much of the second season.
Seenit.co.uk: Oh I’ve seen it all.
Charlie: Oh, you’ve seen all of the second season?
Seenit.co.uk: Yep and I’ve seen the first one twice already. It’s such a great show.
Charlie: Oh wow. Well yeah I mean we, Ron and I, got to do a lot of fun stuff in terms of carrying that kind of disintegration of our relationship to the fullest and I really enjoyed that. And at times we both get a little bit carried away which is fun because we like each other so much and have enough respect for each other we are able to play the game with one another to the fullest. You know the game of acting. So we definitely pushed it. There were moments where the closest where we’re shooting where we almost did come to blows but it was within the context of us already doing a fight scene. So since then, we get a little bit carried away but we’re very, very good friends and I’m actually, I’m going to see Ron this evening. I’m going to go have a glass of wine with him so we kind of, we give each other license to really go for it on set and then all is forgotten the moment we walk off set.
Seenit.co.uk: Off the set?
Seenit.co.uk: Is he a father figure to you? Or do you get that relationship?
Charlie: Oh, because he’s old enough to be my father?
Seenit.co.uk: No, because you have such a perfect dynamic on the show. Everything seems to be unusually realistic for a TV show.
Charlie: I think that’s just, I thank you, but I think that’s just because we take our work very seriously and I think that’s to me, always been my approach to any scene is just trying to find the truth and trying to make it feel as real as possible. I think it’s just the way we approach the work, all of us, individually and collectively.
Seenit.co.uk: Okay. Do you get MC people that they watch the show or bikers that give you advice?
Charlie: Yeah. Occasionally, occasionally. Everyone has an opinion. But I don’t, the thing is, we’re not a real motorcycle club. We’re definitely the TV version of a motorcycle club and any difference where, any times we deterred from the truth, is done intentionally by Kurt to serve a story point because serving the story to him is much, much more important than making this a 100% accurate representation of what a real motorcycle club is because one has to give oneself a little dramatic license but I have also, the thing that really annoys me, and I have said this a couple times, a few times motorcycle enthusiasts will tell me that wearing sneakers is a stupid thing to do.
Seenit.co.uk: They’re like No, No.
Charlie: Yeah because most bikers where biker boots. Well that’s like, I really, and I hate to add, nobody under forty has ever told me that. It’s always old school bikers that come up and say that and really they’re just out of date because my favorite part of my job is getting access to world, being granted access to worlds that I wouldn’t never be ordinarily be allowed into and with the show I was granted access to go and hang around with some real outlaws. I love research and I love to go and find out the truth of what it is that I am trying to play and I wouldn’t spend a lot of time with some real, real, real outlaw bikers from the big clubs, from a couple of big clubs.
Seenit.co.uk: Was it horrible or was it?
Charlie: No it was very interesting and they were very nice to me. well to begin with a little bit cautious, but once they realized I was very genuine and I had a really genuine interest in learning from them then they seemed to know, I have had this experience a few times with different groups of hooligans and bikers and stuff, and they, and then it becomes about trying to give you as much information as possible because A. they want to be represented accurately and B. it gives them a sense of ownership; that the way that information that they have told me has affected my performance and they see it on screen. And one of the things that I learned from hanging out with the real, real dudes is that, especially on the west coast, exactly where our show is being, It’s takes place, because I went up to northern California and hung up with these guys exactly the place where the show takes place and all of the young guys wear white sneakers. So it was just something that I observed from exactly the part of the world that we’re tying to play from these guys and I actually urged the other guys in my crew to wear white sneaks but none of them are into it.
Seenit.co.uk: I wonder why, maybe because they are above forty?
Seenit.co.uk: Just a quick question about Blood, if you can tell us about the movie that you’re creating?
Charlie: Yeah I did Cold Mountain, it’s a film with Anthony Minghella a number of years ago, six or seven years ago, and spent some time in Romania and just learned the story of Vlad the Impaler and thought it was really, really fascinating and amazing that it’d never been told before in a big way and so I spent some time writing it and Brad Pitt’s company, Plan B picked it up and producing it and Summit Entertainment, that made the Twilight films, are going to produce it and so we hope to make it this year at some point. But it’s as far as possible, the acting rits, it’s a true story of Vlad the Impaler but it obviously, to make it commercial we do weave in a little of the mythology and show, in no uncertain terms, how he became the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Seenit.co.uk: Okay great, thank you so much.