Guy Ritchie says he was stunned by King Arthur star Charlie Hunnam’s physique

Charlie Hunnam in the new King Arthur film (Allstar/WARNER BROS.)
Charlie Hunnam in the new King Arthur film (Allstar/WARNER BROS.)

MANY have attempted to make versions of the King Arthur tale, some with huge success and others suffering box-office flops.

Unlike some previous directors and producers — he handles both roles — Guy Ritchie doesn’t seem at all nervous about how his interpretation will fare.

The former husband of singing superstar Madonna, Guy has tasted plenty of success with his Sherlock Holmes movies and others.

However, attempting a radically different version of the Arthur tale, which traces his footsteps from the backstreets of Londinium to becoming King, requires a bit of courage.

“The challenge is finding a tone that a contemporary audience can relate to and that works,” admits the 48-year-old Hertfordshire-born Guy.

“That’s the only challenging aspect of making a film. I’m not bothered by all the other stuff.”

In this latest attempt, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Charlie Hunnam has been trusted to carry the whole thing.

Known for 2002’s Nicholas Nickelby, Green Street and Channel 4 drama Queer As Folk, the 37-year-old Newcastle actor has more strings to his bow.

He wrote a screenplay about Vlad the Impaler, which Brad Pitt’s company will be turning into a movie, so he knows the industry from various angles.

As another Englishman, he’ll also know that making a convincing Arthur, especially in this day and age and with a young audience who may not be so aware of him, takes something special.

“He has always been rendered as the noble man who goes on the noble journey to become the noble King,” he says.

Having got himself into tip-top physical shape to play Arthur, Charlie’s physique stunned Guy!

“When he first took his top off, I was horrified!” laughs Guy.

“Usually, I have to work with actors and they take their top off and I’m horrified in the wrong way, but Charlie walked in all pleased with himself, with his 26-pack ready to rumble!”

Despite having its main star more than ready, the movie’s release ended up being put back, as their ideas about it changed during filming.

Hunnam and Ritchie reckon it became less sombre, a bit lighter, as work continued, and though Hollywood is usually in panic at delays, they showed patience this time.

With Jude Law also starring, after all, the film is sure to do well.

He plays Vortigern, Arthur’s evil uncle, not letting family ties stop him from grabbing ultimate power.

Law has worked on three movies with Guy, as well as a Dior Homme advertisement, and Guy calls him “My go-to guy”.

“He’s someone who is drunk on his power,” Jude says of Vortigern.

On working in period furs and metal helmets, he says: “Sometimes, it’s very camp and silly!

“Other days, it’s exciting because it somehow harks back to Old Hollywood and being in something immense and epic.”

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is in UK cinemas from Friday, May 19.