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Behind-the-scenes of Charlie Hunnam's 'King Arthur' EW photo shoot

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While on set with Charlie Hunnam for EW‘s exclusive first look at King Arthur, the former Sons of Anarchy star — in between push-up sets, of course — introduced us to his take on the legendary character. “First of all, it’s the Guy Ritchie Arthur. We meet him as a street urchin,” Hunnam said. “There’s nothing noble about him in the beginning.”

For Hunnam, a big perk of taking on the role is the hardware, and while this Arthur isn’t like any we’ve ever seen before, he’s still wielding the sword we all know: Excalibur.

“It’s a beautiful sword. They did a lovely job designing it,” he said. “There are some ancient characters and a little bit of that folded steel effect that you see a lot on Japanese knives these days. I was so excited when I saw this crystal. It took me back to my childhood, putting marbles on the top of my swords or my staff that I built myself.”

There is a downside, however. As sweet as it must be to swing a sword around for a few months, the actor-weapon relationship eventually comes to a bitter end. “I’ve been spending a huge amount of time with this sword, and I’ve been told that under no circumstances am I allowed to steal it when the film is finished,” Hunnam said. “But we’ll see about that.”

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To continue reading the cover story on King Arthur, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on newsstands Friday.