The legend of King Arthur is a tale that has been subject to countless retellings. Guy Ritchie’s take on the story, however, is bound to stand out. Ritchie’s vision as a director comes out through a mix of absurd comedy and visceral action sequences; he makes stories that could otherwise be tired or boring into highly entertaining films. The Peak was invited to a conference call with Charlie Hunnam (King Arthur) and Djimon Hounsou (Sir Bedivere). Here are some of their thoughts on working with Guy Ritchie and making King Arthur: The Legend of The Sword:
Christina Fuoco, College Times: . . .What was the most important thing you think you learned from Guy Ritchie?
Charlie Hunnam: Twofold. I mean, I think on the surface what he taught me was the importance of having fun when we work. I tend to be pretty serious about the work I do and go in with a lot of preparation and just set about quietly executing my game plan. And Guy said that’s all well and good but I don’t know what we’re going to be shooting, so you better come ready to be a little bit more light on your feet, you know. But he said the thing that you have to remember is that we want this film to be really, really fun. . .
Djimon Hounsou: And I think we can see that transpiring in his films. You do see the fun in his films.
Inge Koda, Western University: . . .What audience do you hope the film will attract?
DH: Well, it’s a story of all people. I think it’ll attract a lot of people and certainly most of us can relate to this king. . .
CH: I mean, I think the thing for me and that Guy and I discussed a lot was that Arthur has always historically been rendered as this very noble man who goes on a noble quest to become the noble king. But it’s sort of quite elitist and it’s — in that rendering and what we wanted to really do was make Arthur an everyman. Just somebody that everybody could relate and that felt accessible. . .
Rachel Enton, Georgetown University: King Arthur is a myth that’s been very popular and told many times, and this movie is done with an iconoclastic take on it. What do you think makes this film special or unique in it’s telling of the story?
CH: Well, I think that Guy Ritchie’s sensibility as a filmmaker is just so unique. I mean, it’s all with — what makes any story exciting is the vision of the director. And ultimately — you know, we talk about the fact that King Arthur has been told many times, but ultimately King Arthur is one version of the telling of the hero’s journey, which is one of the archetypal stories, the three or four stories that we dress up different ways that we tell over and over and over again.
Because it’s — storytelling by nature or historically has been a way in which we understand the human journey. And so it — having Guy Ritchie at the helm immediately makes this fresh and original and unique because there’s nobody out there that really has that vision that he has as a filmmaker.
I mean, immediately you know it’s going to be cheeky and irreverent and fresh and unexpected and original, so I just — I, for me at least, when I was told the four-word pitch, which was Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur, I said, ‘I’m in,’ you know? I would want to see that film in the cinema, so I want to be a part of the production.
DH: Same here. Same here.
Alex Bloom, The Peak: . . .Being a Guy Ritchie film, I know there’s going to be a lot of humour in it, but how much of the humour in the film is in the script and how much was left to you guys to add into the movie?
DH: Well, I did not see much humour in the script, I think the humour sort of came organically as we were interacting with Guy Ritchie as our director. I think most of it came from the [moment]. That’s what it was for me.
CH: Guy Ritchie’s not much of a . . .preparation man. He really has an extraordinary ability to work in real time. And so the script for Guy is really just a blueprint and the whole thing’s going to come alive on the day, which is why he’s very specific about the team he puts together because he wants some like-minded people that he feels have the ability to contribute to the process and that’s why it’s exciting for Djimon and I.
It’s a really rich collaboration, working with Guy, and like Djimon said, a lot of that humour came from us shooting the scene a couple of times as scripted and [him] saying well, we can do better. Let’s throw some jokes in and us starting to banter around . . . before you know it, the scene in real time has transformed.
Talking to Charlie Hunnam and Djimon Hounsou about the filmmaking process, it sounds like King Arthur: The Legend of the Sword was made in a creative way that allows more of the personality and the charm of the actors to show through. Guy Ritchie’s directing style seems to be fluid and, above all things, original. I don’t think other adaptations of the legend can say the same thing. Whether you’re a purist and hate to see changes made to original source material, or if you find it hard to relate to old stories, I think you’ll be able to agree that this version of the tale is a fresh new take.