Exclusive Interview with 'Sons of Anarchy' Star Charlie Hunnam
Exclusive Interview with 'Sons of Anarchy' Star Charlie Hunnam
John Kubicek
John Kubicek
Senior Writer, BuddyTV
BuddyTV interviews Charlie Hunnam, star of Sons of Anarchy.

The FX drama Sons of Anarchy, which airs a new episode tonight at 10pm, was renewed for a second season this week. This is good news for star Charlie Hunnam, whose previous TV role was on Judd Apatow's Undeclared, a comedy well before it's time as now it's hard to imagine a show starring Seth Rogen would be quickly canceled.

Since that show ended in 2002, Hunnam hasn't worked much, but that's by choice. He is very selective, only going after a role if the material is worth it. Though Hunnam is more concerned with a film career, the lure of Sons of Anarchy was too great. BuddyTV spoke to Hunnam about his decision to return to television, working with the show's great cast, and what fans can look forward to in season 2. Continue reading for the full transcript and to listen to the interview.

This is John from BuddyTV, and I’m talking to Charlie Hunnam, the star of FX’s Sons of Anarchy. How’s it going?

It’s going good, man.

That’s great. Now, what was it that first attracted you to this show and to this role, in particular?

Initially, the quality of Kurt Sutter’s writing, our executive producer. I’ve been pretty exclusively pursuing film opportunities, but it’s been a little frustrated. It’s difficult in Hollywood. The first step is getting the film maker to want to work with you and give you the role, which I never had a problem with. But the second step is trying to get financiers to be content that you’re a big enough name and you have a big enough fan base, that their investment is safe, you know, with you, that you would bring people in. And that’s where I would run into trouble. So, a long story short, I wasn’t particularly looking to do a TV show, and my agent said, “Well, just take a look at it anyway. I think you’d be surprised.” And I just thought Kurt’s writing was as good as anything that I was reading in the feature world. So, that’s what initially drew me. You know, I knew of Art [Linson] and John [Linson], the other executive producers, who produce things like Fight Club and Heat and some wonderful films over the years. So that was a big draw too. But then, very rapidly, I got slightly obsessed with this subculture of motorcycle clubs that we were going to delve into. I thought it was so fresh and had been so seldomly explored, it got me really excited.

You bring up the show, about the motorcycles and this underground club, and also a lot of guns. Were you familiar with any of that before this? How much research did you have to do to get caught up with this subculture?

Yeah, I didn’t have any experience at all with this, so I had to do a lot of research, both academic and I managed to do a little real-world research. But the thing is, as well, I wanted to acquaint myself with the realities of what these clubs are, and then I had to step back and reacquaint myself with the reality we were going to bring to screen. It’s a little more extreme and a little more larger than life, what we’re doing it, while keeping integrity and keeping it as real and as true to life as possible. There’s a much bigger organized crime element than I think is the reality with a lot of these clubs. You know, because we’re in line with terrorists and dealing guns with the IRA, and all of that is pretty big, heavy organized crime, and certainly, I didn’t experience any of that type of stuff in my travels.

You talk about the extreme, because in the last two episodes, we’ve seen a lot of, you know, someone getting his testicles cut off, and then in last week’s episode, burning the guy’s tattoo off of his back. How do you feel about that? It’s very graphic. It’s FX so it’s still allowed, but it’s pretty graphic, brutal show.

Yeah, I know. It is, it is. I don’t know where one line stops and the other begins. I mean, as Jax Teller, I’m not particularly into that, you know, the extreme violence and brutality of some of the actions of our club. And as me, I’m not particularly into that stuff either, but I do think it’s a strong reality of this world that we’ve created. I think that within the world we’ve created, it works very well and is necessary and true.

What is it like working with this cast. As your two parental figures, you have some pretty big stars, Ron Perlman and Katey Sagal. What is it like working with the cast on this show?

Yeah, they are definitely big stars, but I’ve worked with big stars before. I just really like everyone so much. I have wonderful relationships with everyone on this cast. And collectively, I think that they are possibly the best cast I’ve ever worked with. You know, everybody’s so different and has such unique points of view and opinions and different processes and styles of work. It’s nice. My character gets to travel through and work with everyone. I have the days which are calm and focused working with Katey Sagal and Maggie Siff. And then I have the really visceral, crazy high-adrenaline days working with all of the boys, where there’s a lot of testosterone flying around, so it’s great. But Tommy Flanagan is someone that I’ve been actively trying to work with for years and years. We were attached to two films prior to this, neither of which got made, but we both had gotten each other involved in. Tommy’s someone I’ve been trying to work with for years, and have known and liked for years. Mark Boone Junior is someone whose career and work I had always admired, and I was really excited to have the opportunity to work with him. It’s just really a very, very, pretty exceptional cast we’ve put together. And everyone which is really wonderful is exactly right for their roles. I don’t feel like Kurt made any mistakes or missteps in the casting process.

You talk about the character of Jax. Throughout the first couple of episodes, the first half of the season I guess it’s been, we’ve seen him debating whether or not to go on with this club, or to try to turn it in a new direction. In this first season, how far is he going to go with that, ticking Clay off. Is that rivalry going to come to a head by the end of the season?

I think it’s going to be a slow boil, which– if we’re lucky enough to get a second season – will really erupt in the second season. I had always had a nagging suspicion, I think Jax has always had a nagging suspicion, that the way it would evolve was a far, far departure from my father’s original idea for what this club should be. And then I find this journal and have my son, both of which instantly exacerbates an already nagging problem that I have. And it kind of takes it to the point where it’s slightly intolerable to me and I can’t bite my tongue anymore. I certainly think that certain things happen towards the end of this season that pull me back firmly into the club, forcing me to choose a path. I’ve always seen it as this guy arriving at somewhat of a crossroads and then some stuff happens that force me to choose a path. And then once I’ve chosen that path, then those things that were intolerable to me before become absolutely essential to deal with. And I think that it when we reach that point by the end of this first season, and then going into the next season, it’s going to be divide and conquer.

Finally, I just wanted to ask, you’re one of about a thousand British actors right now who are playing an American on American television. They seem to be all over the place. Is that something that comes easy to you, or is it difficult going in and out of that accent?

I wouldn’t say that it’s something that comes easy to me. It just requires a lot of hard work and a lot of hours of work outside of what is already a pretty long work week. I usually work 14 hours a day on set and then come home and have to do two or three hours of work preparing the stuff for the next day, specifically the American. But I’ve always committed to having an American career and it’s something that I’ve spent a long time learning how to do. I’m feeling more and more confident as the episodes go by. It’s just one extra thing to have to worry about, but I just feel so fortunate to be able to come to America and work, you know? Because there’s just not much, there are so few opportunities in England.

-John Kubicek, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image courtesy of FX)