With King Arthur, Charlie Hunnam and Guy Ritchie are attempting to do something new with the legendary hero: make him a kickass action hero. While their new take on Arthur and the knights of the Round Table isn’t set to hit theaters until next summer, EW visited the set to bring you the first look at the former Sons of Anarchy star as the once and future king.
From the very start of the project, Ritchie knew that he’d need to make a few changes to the story’s hero. “I think where the pitfall has often been is trying to make King Arthur bland and nice, and nice and bland,” he says. “The two qualities make rather compatible bed companions. Unfortunately, they’re not interesting to watch. Luke Skywalker was always the most uninteresting character in Star Wars because he’s the good guy. Good guys are boring.”
And that’s where Hunnam came in. Fresh off of seven seasons as Jax on Sons of Anarchy, he knew a thing or two about playing someone with a few shades of grey — more on that later. This King Arthur wouldn’t be the same virtuous, medieval Superman we’ve seen before.
Orphaned as an infant and raised by three prostitutes in the 5th century version of London, this Arthur is more of a street-wise hood, who looks after the people living in his tiny corner of the world. “He’s a little bit rough around the edges, but he’s basically a survivor. He’s a hustler,” Hunnam says. “He’s a street kid. There’s definitely a harder edge to him than people would imagine. It’s sort of classic Guy Ritchie stuff.”
What isn’t typical for Ritchie, though, is the film’s major fantasy element. Instead of going with the Batman Begins-esque, stripped down reboot, King Arthur sprints full blast in the opposite direction with giant snakes, massive war elephants, and a monstrous viking-like creature known as The Nemesis. “Hopefully, loyalists won’t be too offended by what we’ve done,” says producer Lionel Wigram.
For more on King Arthur, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, which hits stands on Friday.