English actor Charlie Hunnam is mainly known for that country’s original version of the TV series Queer As Folk, as well as films like Green Street Hooligans and Children of Men.
He made his breakthrough here as biker club leader Jax Teller on the FX TV drama Sons of Anarchy. Now the 32 year-old’s latest role is as Jay in the crime thriller Deadfall.
In the film, Eric Bana and Olivia Wilde play sibling thieves Addison and Liza who flee to the Canadian border after a botched casino heist. When they separate, Liza encounters Jay and the two end up having an affair, and their journey culminates over Thanksgiving dinner with Jay’s parents, played by Kris Kristofferson and Sissy Spacek.
Hunnam talks about what it was like filming on location in Montreal, often showing plenty of skin in the freezing cold.
“You know, where there’s a will,” Charlie says, “I actually had been really excited about a period in the cold weather because we shoot Sons Of Anarchy in L.A. through the course of the summer, and I’m a skinny guy. I want to look as big as possible, so I wear several layers of clothing everyday and it gets really old being that hot.”
“But I must say a couple days in, I was craving the sunshine,” he adds, “Because when you’re really hot, you’re miserable and a little bit grumpy and just dab down the sweat, but cold is really debilitating. I found it hard to function in that. Those two scenes, the scene that we had outside, the contentious moment with me in my boxer shorts. Our fight scene was very cold. I’d so much rather be cold that goes through the production of shooting in real snow than be comfortable freezing in fake snow.”
Charlie also discussed how he got himself in the mindset of Jay.
“That’s always the trick, to figure out how to get oneself,” Hunnam recalls, “I mean, I’ve done a great deal of work in my personal life to try to get myself away from feeling that way day to day and I always find the trick is to identify a way to get close to the character emotionally, without having to resort to intellectual analysis or empathizing and actually have a feeling. So what I set about doing was I had experienced before working out and stopping and what a negative effect that has on the psyche. And I felt that was a very close area to where Jay was coming out of prison. I also have been very interested in boxing, so I put myself through an intense boxing academy where you got up and ran five miles every morning, and then went and had breakfast and boxed a couple hours and came home and watched fights all day long, and then went and swam and saunaed every night seven days a week for several weeks running up to this.”
“And then, when I got up to Montreal, I wanted to stop and as soon as we started filming, I wanted to stop completely to feel the absence of that,” he adds, “And I also knew that was going to have a negative effect on my psychology, and then, it’s kind of a shortcut to, rather than intellectually empathizing, to feeling some of that emotion and some of the work is done for you. And actually, I found a lot of success. I got into a very dark and happy place while shooting this movie, I think, because of that pressure. I was a little testy because I feel you can readily understand why bad people do bad things. It’s a whole different thing trying to get that feeling into your body.”
Hunnam was asked if his role on Sons helped prep him for Deadfall.
“No, it’s been my childhood, I would say, more than anything,” Charlie says, “But Sons has been an incredible experience for me, just doing that volume of work, going to work everyday and being there all day, everyday, and putting 80 hour weeks in, six months in a row. It’s developed a real ease for me in front of the camera and then, at the areas I was struggling with in America, specifically doing an American accent and just having that volume of time to tackle that.”
“I feel less, not fully like I’ve mastered it, but much, much less contained than I used to,” he adds, “It always used to sound right. It’s about being effortless in it and getting to the point where it doesn’t govern anything that is required of you in that moment. And I felt from the first couple of seasons of Sons that all that I was doing was trying to speak in a Californian accent and everything else was falling off by the wayside. And thankfully, I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve gotten comfortable enough to concentrate on some of the other stuff.”
Charlie talks about what viewers will come to expect for the next season of Sons Of Anarchy.
“Now that everybody’s dead, I don’t know if there will be a season six,” Hunnam says, “I’m very excited. It’s been, people who watch the show, I think it’s clear that it’s been a very fulfilling season for Jax and his overall arc through the story.”
“It’s wonderful getting to be the president finally and not having to be so reactive and a little bit more proactive,” he continues, “Which sounds just kind of nice ways to describe character, but it’s actually the experience of playing this guy. It’s everything to have to sit in a room and receive information as opposed to say, ‘You know what? This is how were going to handle this and move forward,’ and it’s been fun.”