British actor Charlie Hunnam had quite a successful movie career in 2008, with such titles as Nicholas Nickleby, Cold Mountain, Green Street and Children of Men, when he was approached about doing the TV series Sons of Anarchy, after the show’s creator, Kurt Sutter, saw him in Green Street.
In Sons of Anarchy, Hunnam portrays outlaw motorcyclist and gun runner Jackson ‘Jax’ Teller, the President of the Sons of Anarchy Motorcycle Club. The series begins its 6th Season on September 10th.
Jax is such an interesting character with such widely mixed emotions. Can you talk about playing him?
It’s a dream come true to be given a character like this.
When I met Kurt and read this script initially I was at a really low period of my career, where I had a burning desire to go and do some really meaty work, and I just wasn’t getting the roles.
So it was a really difficult time for me. And then Kurt’s script came along, and it blew me away.
I’ve said to Kurt endlessly, ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you.’ It has been far and away the greatest creative experience of my life, and I just adore playing this guy.
What do you have in common with Jax?
I grew up in an area where if a man wanted to escape the kind of tedious minutia of life, the working-class struggle of making just enough money working in a factory and being slammed by the man all the time, then they had to go out and take some risks. There were always consequences to doing that. It didn’t make them bad men.
My father was a guy who took a lot of risks in his life and paid the consequences. It corrupted the relationship he had with his family.
These were the dynamics that I have been raised with and understand and felt really excited about having the opportunity to understand more deeply through playing them myself.
But I also felt like that experience gave me the tools to bring this guy to life in a way that I would believe in, and hopefully the audience would believe in too.
You said at Comic-Con that you had ridden down to San Diego. Has being on the series deepened your appreciation for motorcycles?
Yeah, I had just a vague relationship with motorcycles before. I’d ridden a couple of times when I was a kid on dirt bikes.
My big brother is an avid sports bike rider. He goes to track days and rides around at 200 miles an hour with guys that aren’t really good enough to be doing that. They invariably hurt each other and create a lot of collateral damage and expense.
So I was always a little nervous about that, and hadn’t really thought a lot about riding myself. Then I got the show. Living in Los Angeles, it’s kind of frustrating to get around and I had this epiphany the first day on set, about riding a bike around [the city].
There’s just a sense of freedom and a sense of being a part of the environment around you, as you try not to get killed by a Prius. It’s fun.