Charlie Hunnam has said that channelling his inner “formidable, hard man” father in “macho” film roles prevented him from becoming a belligerent bully.
The Sons of Anarchy star admitted to a violent childhood that included a lot of brutal fighting, which nearly turned him into a feared (and revered) oppressor amongst his peers. A bit like his late dad.
“As a kid, I got picked on,” he told Red Bulletin. “I got into a lot of fights, losing some and getting severely beaten a few times. When that happens to you, you just feel like, ‘I’m going to do everything in my power to never be in a situation like this again.’
“Hence you go out and learn how to fight. I still do martial arts training and I’m eager to never let that happen again.”
The actor revealed that it almost went too far, and he was beginning to get the same reputation as his dad.
“But then I developed this tendency to carry [that belligerence] into every room,” he continued. “I wanted people to know, ‘Look, if you’re going to f*ck with me, it’s going to go badly for you.’
“But then you realize you’ve become a slave to the thing you’re afraid of. In a lot of ways, I started channeling my father.”
Hunnam had previously described his father William as being a tough character with a bit of “gangster vibe” in his hometown of Newcastle
“He was a formidable guy, and when I was younger I was actively playing the role of my father, especially in my film work,” he went on. “A lot of people who have come into contact with violence and felt victimized in their childhood will grow into a person who perpetuates that cycle and themselves becomes a bully.
“What I did was play a lot of really hard characters. I felt that I exorcised those fears by being a macho dude on screen.
“But that also bled into my perception of myself in real life – it’s not that I was a bully, but I identified with having the respect of the men in any circle I was a part of. Now I realise that’s just a bunch of nonsense, because I know who I really am.”
Speaking about his dad previously to Metro newspaper (via Chronicle Live), he disclosed: “My father was a scrap metal merchant. They are tough old school men – very flashy guys, real characters – and there’s an aesthetic that goes with that.
“My father wore a diamond-encrusted Rolex, a massive diamond pinkie ring, and beautiful tailor-made suits, and he drove a Rolls Royce. So there is a perception they have that gangster aura about them. My father had a big reputation in his home town Newcastle.
“He was well respected among the community of tough guys but certainly was never involved in any illegal business.”
Hunnam plays the titular lead in Guy Ritchie’s action adventure, and stars alongside Jude Law, Annabelle Wallis and David Beckham, who makes his feature film debut.