Sons of Anarchy star Charlie Hunnam talks about his big screen war against mega monsters in his movie Pacific Rim and who would be his real-life partner in battle.
Actor Charlie Hunnam has been riding into your TV screens for the past five seasons as Jax Teller on the hit FX series Sons of Anarchy. Now, the bad biker boy with heart you’re used to loving is transformed into something bigger.
He may not play a traditional superhero with supernatural powers, but in Hunnam’s new film, Pacific Rim, directed by Guillermo del Toro, he’ll operate one of the biggest monsters on the planet in order to fight monstrous alien creatures coming up from the deep blue sea.
In Pacific Rim, when legions of monstrous, alien creatures, known as Kaiju, started rising from the sea, a war began that would take millions of lives and consume humanity’s resources for years. In order to combat these giant killers, a special type of weapon was devised: massive robots, called Jaegers, which are controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are synched via a neural bridge, called “The Drift.” But as the enemy grows more powerful with each attack, even the Jaegers are proving nearly defenseless in the face of the relentless Kaiju.
On the verge of defeat, the forces defending mankind have no choice but to turn to two unlikely heroes—a washed up former pilot (Hunnam) and an untested trainee (Rinko Kikuchi)—who are teamed to drive a seemingly obsolete Jaeger, the Gypsy Danger. And, as you would expect, it’s Hunnam and his partner who stand as mankind’s last hope against the mounting apocalypse.
Hunnam, who stars as a Jaegar fighter pilot with a trouble past, talks about what it was like working on his first big movie, what Guillermo de Toro is like as a director,what it’s like to share a brain with his pilot partner, Rinko Kikuchi, and who he would take into battle with him in real-life.
On the film: “The characters in the film are at the eleventh hour, and the only way they can overcome this colossal danger is by coming together and forgetting all their petty differences, be it nations or creeds or backgrounds. The one thing mankind has proven time and time again is that we can overcome any obstacle that we set our minds to, and I think that message will resonate with audiences.”
On getting the part: “I got a call saying that Guillermo was interested in me for this new film. We met and he gave me a vague outline of the story and who the character was. Then, about a week later, he called and offered it to me. Of course I said yes, and that was the first time in my career that I committed to a project without first reading the script. It was a leap of faith because, script or no script, I was signing on to work with Guillermo.”
About his character: “He’s young and full of bravado and lives to kick ass against the Kaiju. He’s doing very well piloting his Jaeger, Gipsy Danger, with his brother, but in their desire to protect humanity, they disobey an order, which turns out to be a tragic mistake that forces Raleigh to leave the Jaeger corps behind.”
Filming the tough robotic scenes: Essentially they built an apparatus like an elliptical type of machine that we would be strapped into while we were wearing our suit of armor, which weighed about 30lbs, and we would be on these ellipticals doing these sequences, throwing punches for an average shooting day, which is 14 to 16 hours and in my case for 27 days. I anticipated it would be difficult but not as difficult as it turned out to be.”
What it’s like to “drift”: “One of the very beautiful and original ideas that has grown from this movie is the way the two pilots and the computer interact, which we call the Drift, which is literally when we get neurologically connected and all of the information in her brain (Kikuchi) is accessible to me and vice-versa. So it’s literally letting somebody inside your head who has access to all of your darkest secrets and most embarrassing memories; everything that’s in your head.”
Working with Guillermo del Toro: “I think what just sets this movie apart is Guillermo. This is the world in his mind that he resides in. I don’t think there’s anybody with more passion and integrity and who is more qualified than Guillermo to do this type of movie. I mean, he’ll get up in the middle of the night and go to the bathroom to sketch an idea of a monster head that he has! He’s just in a class of his own in his imagination and how he realizes these creatures and just his ability to bring these dimensional worlds together that you really can believe in them.”
Working with co-star Rinko Kikuchi: “Rinko is such a joy. She’s just such a sweet, genuine, lovely and fun person. She’s one of the truly nicest people I’ve come across in my travels through Hollywood.”
Who would be his real life co-pilot: “I would have to say my big brother. There’s a theme in the film about co-pilots being someone that you completely trust and be compatible with and really anticipate what they’re going to do in a situation; someone that you know will have your back. My big bro has been having my back since day one.”
Pacific Rim opens on July 12 and stars Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Rob Kazinsky, Max Martini, Clifton Collins, Jr., Burn Gorman, and Ron Perlman.