Who Is Charlie Hunnam?
Born in 1980, Charlie Hunnam has been acting since he was 17. His first big role was in Russell T. Davies’ British series Queer as Folk before moving to the U.S. and appearing in films such as Nicholas Nickleby (2002), Cold Mountain (2003) and Children of Men (2006). Hunnam’s breakout role came in 2008 when he signed on to play Jax Teller on FX’s crime drama Sons of Anarchy, which he starred in through 2014. Since then Hunnam has created a tradition of embodying hyper-masculine roles, including the sci-fi flick Pacific Rim (2013), the adventure drama The Lost City of Z (2016) and the epic fantasy King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017). In addition to acting, Hunnam is a screenwriter.
Movies and TV Shows
‘Queer as Folk’
Hunnam’s first major onscreen role was on Russell T. Davies’ British gay series Queer as Folk. On the show he played 15-year-old Nathan Maloney, a rebellious school kid who’s new to the gay scene but is full of confidence.
The young actor then turned to appearing in the love story Whatever Happened to Harold Smith? (1999) before making his way across the pond to America, where he picked up a recurring role in WB’s Young Americans. He also had a quick stint on Fox’s Judd Apatow-helmed sitcom Undeclared, but the acclaimed show was canceled after one season.
‘Cold Mountain,’ ‘Children of Men’
Turning to film, Hunnam appeared opposite Katie Holmes in the panned psychological thriller Abandon (2002) but had better luck with the Charles Dickens-inspired drama Nicholas Nickleby (2002), in which he played the title role, as well as the Civil War film Cold Mountain (2003). In the latter, he played the psychotic lieutenant Bosie, who duels with the protagonist Inman (Jude Law).
Hunnam’s flair for depicting troubled characters continued after Cold Mountain, his follow ups being a Cockney-accented hooligan in Pete Dunham’s indie football drama Green Street (2005) and a corrupt gang member in the dystopian thriller Children of Men (2006).
‘Sons of Anarchy’
As he continued to star in bigger projects, his rounds in Hollywood paid off. In 2008 Hunnam was cast in one of his most memorable roles as gang leader Jackson “Jax” Teller in the FX crime drama Sons of Anarchy, a story about an outlaw motorcycle club set in a fictional town in California. The series became one of the highest rated shows for the network, which ran its course through 2014. Still, Hunnam admittedly had a hard time saying goodbye to the show and his character.
“It was actually quite emotional for me, living and loving that guy for eight years, to have to finally put him to bed,” he told Glamour UK. “I found myself going back to set a lot. I knew the security guards and for a couple of days said, ‘Oh, I forgot something’, so they’d let me onto the set, and I’d just walk around at night because I wanted to be in that environment and go through a personal process of saying goodbye. After a couple of nights I didn’t really need the alibi to get in, and then after a while I just said, ‘OK, enough, this is done.’”
While on Anarchy, Hunnam also starred as the lead role in Guillermo del Toro’s blockbuster Pacific Rim (2013), a sci-fi drama about humans operating giant humanoids to battle sea monsters from another dimension. The actor would team up with del Toro again for the gothic horror flick Crimson Peak (2015), which would find a solid audience and generally fared well with critics.
‘Fifty Shades of Grey’
In between these films, it was announced that Hunnam was set to star as Christian Grey in the film version of E.L. James’ erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey. However, due to multiple scheduling conflicts, Hunnam reluctantly bowed out and later called the ordeal “the worst professional experience of my life.”
“I called [director Sam Taylor-Johnson], and we both cried our eyes out on the phone for 20 minutes,” he told V Man magazine in 2015. “I needed to tell her that this was not going to work… There was a lot of personal stuff going on in my life that left me on real emotional shaky ground and mentally weak. I just got myself so f–king overwhelmed and I was sort of having panic attacks about the whole thing.”
However, Hunnam bounced back playing British geographer Percy Fawcett in the biographical drama The Lost City of Z (2016). He also collaborated with Guy Ritchie on the film King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017), although critics generally panned the project. Still, Hunnam had much better reception playing French convicted murderer Henri Charrière in the lauded Papillon (2017), which co-starred Rami Malek.
Despite his difficult experience turning down Fifty Shades of Grey, Hunnam has found another opportunity to work with the film’s director Sam Taylor-Johnson: The two are teaming up for the upcoming movie A Million Little Pieces, an adaptation of the controversial 2003 novel written by James Frey.
Outside of acting, Hunnam is a screenwriter. Before he earned the lead role on Sons of Anarchy, he sold a screenplay about Vlad the Impaler to a major film distribution company. He is also developing films on American drug lord Edgar Valdez Villareal and gypsy culture in British society.
After a brief courtship, Hunnam married actress Katharine Towne in 1999 but the couple called it quits three years later.
Since 2005, he’s been in a relationship with artist Morgana McNelis.
Charles Matthew Hunnam was born on April 10, 1980 in Newcastle, Tyne and Wear, England. His father, William, worked in the scrap metal industry and died in 2013, while his mother Jane, a business owner, raised the actor and his older brother after the couple divorced when Hunnam was a toddler.
After high school, Hunnam matriculated to the University of Cumbria, where he graduated with a film degree.
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