DVD buffs can also find 23-year-old Hunnam playing the lead in Douglas McGrath’s 2002 adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Nicholas Nickleby, even though the actor doesn’t cherish his work in the Victorian costume drama. “I feel like it was very one-dimensional the way Doug had me play it,” Hunnam admits, describing creative differences that arose between he and the director. “I wouldn’t have played it that way. I fought tooth and nail and lost that one.”

A more contemporary video store option is the thriller “Abandon,” where Hunnam plays the long-lost, enigmatic boyfriend of Katie Holmes. Directed by Oscar winner Stephen Gaghan (Best Screenplay recipient for 2000’s Traffic), the underachieving film proved a tough marketing challenge for its studio. “Paramount just kind of dropped it,” says Hunnam, lamenting the project’s failure to reach a wider audience. “It was a tricky film, a teen movie that was smarter than that genre of film generally is.”

Hunnam is most enthusiastic about future projects, however, including “Hooligans,” a film exploring the controversial subculture of British football clubs. Slated to direct is German newcomer Lexi Alexander, whose 2002 boxing film Johnny Flynton snagged an Oscar nomination for Best Short Live Action Film. “It’s so much more organized than anyone would imagine,” he reveals of the hooligan subculture. “Every single football club in Europe has a gang attached to it. They call them firms. They’re fight clubs, basically, but not a bunch of drunken Neanderthals. A very primal thing. All sorts of people get involved, including doctors, lawyers, and accountants. It’s the ultimate extreme sport.”

A new infusion of British blood has boosted the otherwise anemic landscape of Hollywood film, as evidenced by the “Harry Potter” and “Lord of the Rings” casts. Even onscreen English veterans like Ian McKellan and Holm are receiving long-overdue recognition through their affiliation with such popular franchises. As a more recent addition to this U.K. acting fraternity, Hunnam is asked which of his peers he most admires. “Daniel Day Lewis is a guy whose career I would like to emulate, the way he will just take time off, with no frantic urgency to stay on top. Some of these guys can be such chameleons. They stay out of the spotlight and then suddenly re-appear, allowing you to get excited about them.”

To blow off steam during his down time, Hunnam hams it up with a rap group called King Luster. But unlike other actors who moonlight as serious musicians (for instance, the Keanu Reeves/Dogstar connection), he insists that the band is merely an amusing diversion and nothing more. “It’s just for fun, but I would never pursue it professionally,” he chuckles. “My rap group is an Aryan poster boy and three Jews. Not exactly from the streets.”

Posted on December 17, 2003 in Interviews by

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