For seven seasons, Charlie Hunnam played a grease and bloodstained biker prince on the Hamlet-inspired Sons of Anarchy. But, thanks to Guy Ritchie’s new film, Knights of the Roundtable: King Arthur, Hunnam is trading in his motorcycle helmet for a crown. Entertainment Weekly has the first look.
And it’s not much of a transformation. This version of Arthur also seems to enjoy getting his hands a little dirty and bloody. Ritchie explains that the decidedly non-regal look comes out of his idea that the world was sick and tired of goody-two-shoes versions of Arthur. He told E.W., “I think where the pitfall has often been is trying to make King Arthur bland and nice, and nice and bland. The two qualities make rather compatible bed companions. Unfortunately, they’re not interesting to watch. Luke Skywalker was always the most uninteresting character in Star Wars because he’s the good guy. Good guys are boring.” Shots across the Lucasfilm bow!
This is the same approach Ritchie took to his lucrative 2009 reboot of the Sherlock Holmes legend starring Robert Downey Jr. In his hands, Holmes became less gentleman boxer, and more deranged, hard-scrabble street fighter. It looks like Ritchie’s Arthurian retelling may get even more extreme. While there are many different versions of Arthur’s youth—most involving Merlin, a sword and a stone, or a lady and a lake—this story will see Arthur orphaned as an infant and raised by three prostitutes in the fifth-century version of London. Ritchie describes him as a street-wise hood. “He’s a little bit rough around the edges, but he’s basically a survivor. He’s a hustler,” Hunnam says. “He’s a street kid. There’s definitely a harder edge to him than people would imagine. It’s sort of classic Guy Ritchie stuff.” Not too far off from Hunnam’s roles in Sons of Anarchy or Green Street Hooligans at all.
— Charlie Hunnam Daily (@HunnamDaily) July 23, 2015
But as far as Ritchie is concerned, “grit” doesn’t necessarily equal “realism.” Knights of the Roundtable: King Arthur (more on that colon in a second) will feature “giant snakes, massive war elephants, and a monstrous viking-like creature known as The Nemesis,” per E.W. “Hopefully, loyalists won’t be too offended by what we’ve done,” producer Lionel Wigram told the magazine. As for the Knights of the Roundtable: King Arthur title, if all goes according to plan (a.k.a. doing well at the box office), Ritchie’s new version of Camelot will reportedly launch a six-film franchise. Given that Ritchie’s deal is with Warner Bros., the architects behind Zack Snyder’s wildly ambitious Justice League franchise, you can probably bet we’ll see more from Hunnam and his gang, er, band of knights. That’s right, get ready for Knights of the Roundtable: Lancelot, Knights of the Roundtable: Galahad, and, way, way down the road, Knights of the Roundtable: Guinevere. We’ve got to have something to watch when Game of Thrones ends.
— Entertainment Weekly (@EW) July 23, 2015
But just as he did with his Sherlock Holmes, Ritchie faces some major competition from other creatives wanting to take a crack at a legend. Speaking of Game of Thrones, Disney just announced that a major writer/producer on the HBO series, Bryan Cogman, will be writing a new live-action version of their popular young Arthur cartoon The Sword in the Stone. We imagine this will be a far cry from Ritchie’s gritty version, but is some competition nonetheless. Perhaps that explains Ritchie’s dig at Disney-owned Lucasfilm.
Ritchie’s film co-stars Eric Bana as Arthur’s father, Uther; Astrid Bergès-Frisbey as Guinevere; Djimon Hounsou as Sir Bedivere; and, gloriously, David Beckham as “Blackleg leader.” Knights of the Roundtable: King Arthur opens summer 2016.