Pacific Rim (2013) - Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi
Pacific Rim (2013) - Raleigh Beckett (Charlie Hunnam) and Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) © 2013 Warner Bros

Best known for his role as Jackson ‘Jax’ Teller in FX’s gritty drama Sons of Anarchy, Charlie Hunnam now stars in Guillermo del Toro’s new sci fi adventure Pacific Rim.

He portrays washed up former pilot Raleigh Becket who, along with a group of brave pilots, must save the world when a legion of monstrous creatures, known as Kaiju, rise from the sea, taking millions of lives.

How did you get this role?

Pacific Rim (2013) - Charlie Hunnam and Rinko Kikuchi
Pacific Rim (2013) – Raleigh Beckett (Charlie Hunnam) and Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi) © 2013 Warner Bros

I had met Guillermo several years ago when he was doing Hellboy II. He asked me to come in and meet with him. I don’t remember the movie, there was a prince and princess who were identical twins, and he’d already cast the girl so he was interested in my playing the guy.

He just felt ultimately, when we did the prosthetic test, that we didn’t look similar enough. But we really liked each other and had a lot of fun during the audition process.

I guess he just kept an eye on me over the years, and through his relationship with Ron (Perlman, who starred in Hellboy and is Hunnam’s co-star on Sons of Anarchy) he’d been watching my work on Sons of Anarchy.

Then he somehow arrived at the decision that I would be the guy he wanted to save the world in this movie.

What was it like working with Guillermo?

Amazing. He’s just a sweetheart to work with. He’s a very kind, generous and collaborative man. I can’t speak highly enough of him. We both really enjoyed each other.

He just offered me one of the leads in his next movie, so it’s developing into something that I’ve always dreamed about, which is to have a longstanding relationship with a director and work with him over and over again.

What was it like doing the fight scenes for the movie?

Pacific Rim (2013) - Idris Elba and Charlie Hunnam
Pacific Rim (2013) – Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) and Raleigh Beckett (Charlie Hunnam) ©2013 Warner Bros

That was great. Seeing the way Guillermo handled those sequences in Hellboy, [I knew] he was really going to go for it.

I went every weekend for 8 weeks before we started shooting to Bruce Lee’s partner’s gym, and learned how to do that stuff with the [sticks]. Rinko (Kikuchi, who plays Mako Mori) and I did the vast majority of that.

Sometimes when it was my coverage I would ask to do it with her double because I was just so nervous of hurting Rinko, because we were really fighting and with those sticks if you make a mistake then it’s going to be bad.

How hard was it to get into that suit?

It was about a 30 minute process to put it on and then 15 minutes to take it off. But the real problem for the first two weeks was because the pre-production was quite short on this film for various reasons, and they didn’t think of putting in a pee flap.

So you can imagine when [the suit] takes 45 minutes to get on and off, you don’t really want to be taking it on and off all day. But it’s really hot, so you’ve gotta drink a lot of water.

After a couple of weeks they gave me a few flaps, so all was good.

Did you keep any souvenirs from the set?

No. There was some talk about keeping one of the suits, but it would have [been] burned immediately if they had let me keep it.

I thought someone else should have it, because I was so sick of wearing that suit by the end of it.

How’s Sons of Anarchy going?

We’re well into the third act of the show now, and third acts demand that we start to come up with some real resolutions.

I think it’s going to be a very bloody, dramatic and hopefully exciting conclusion.

Charlie was asked about his recent indie movie 3,2,1 … Frankie Go Boom in which he got Ron Perlman to portray Phyllis, a transsexual. Click here to listen to how he managed that!

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Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.