Charlie Hunnam is the latest British actor to play an American television character. He plays Jax Teller on FX's new show Sons of Anarchy. The series came at exactly the right moment in his career.
Charlie Hunnam One of the Brit Sons of Anarchy
"I had been looking for a long time," Said Hunnam. "I have a very clear idea of the type of work that I wanted to do, and I'd been out of work for a long time because I wouldn't compromise that. A lot of the work that I was having the opportunity to do wasn't to the standard that I had been interested in trying to pursue. I hadn't really been thinking about TV. I'd pretty much been exclusively pursuing film work. Then I got this script and I just thought Kurt [Sutter]'s writing was better than the vast majority of the screenplays I was reading. So as soon as I read it, it was just all about how the hell do I get this job? Then Kurt was open to it and [producer] John [Linson] was incredible responsive. By the grace of God, it happened."
Jax is the heir apparent to the motorcycle club of the show's title. It was a world with which he was already somewhat familiar.
Sons of Anarchy
"I felt that this character wasn't too far away from the character or the world that I had investigated and explored in Green Street Hooligans. Those groups of hooligans live by a lot of the same rules. So basically I spoke with Kurt a lot and John was an incredible wealth of knowledge about this world. I started there and read a few books. Then the greatest research was actually finding a few real life outlaws and hanging with them for a couple of weeks and just walking the walk and talking the talk, just learning about the aesthetic and then just trying to apply as best I could to what we were doing."
It may be a little bit method, but that's how Hunnam works. "I was very fortunate that I hooked up with these guys pretty early in the process, so I had a lot of time to learn. Had a great guy who taught us all. By the time we actually got to shooting, I was really, really comfortable on the bike. Whatever role I'm playing, the process is pretty similar. I do a little academic research and then really just go out into the world."
Now he hopes that viewers will enjoy the fruits of his firsthand experience. "I always think it's interesting to go an investigate subcultures that really haven't been investigated too much before. This is an area that I knew nothing about but immediately upon meeting Kurt and John, their fascination and excitement about this world was so infectious and I was able also to track down a couple of guys that were living this lifestyle. Ultimately, I think the thing that I find most exciting about it is their freedom. They've really broken away from all of the regular rules of society that dictate the way we live our lives and there's something very exciting and fresh and just free about that. I think to me that's the most exciting element of it."