Charlie Hunnam was emaciated and had lost twenty pounds for the last season of Sons of Anarchy (2008). During auditions, director Guy Ritchie was very bothered by his look, though he liked his performance, and asked him four times during the process about his poor physique and what was the heaviest he had been. Hunnam said that when Ritchie brought up the fourth time, he knew that the physicality of Arthur was very important to Ritchie. He promised him that he would get into incredible shape for Arthur and to prove his fitness for the part and even offered to physically fight the other two finalists, Henry Cavill and Jai Courtney. Hunnam told Ritchie, "Look, dude, you keep bringing this up, the physicality. It's obviously your primary concern. So if you want to do away with all this auditioning bollocks, I'll f***ing fight those other two dudes. I know who they are. You can bring them both in here. I'll fight them both. The one who walks out the door gets the job." Hunnam won the role after this.
The film went through several stages. Firstly, director David Dobkin tried to make a version with Kit Harington as King Arthur and Joel Kinnaman as Lancelot, but the movie was deemed too expensive and the actors too unknown. Then, Colin Farrell was cast as King Arthur and Gary Oldman as Merlin, but that version was not made either.
Actress Katie McGrath, who played the role of Elsa in this film, also played Morgana, King Arthur's half-sister, in Merlin (2008), a BBC series based on Arthurian Legend.
Guy Ritchie said he was shocked by how shredded Charlie Hunnam got for this role and was horrified (in a good way) when Hunnam took off his shirt for the first time. He marveled, "Charlie never seems to carry more than six percent body fat. When he first took his top off, I was horrified. Usually with actors, they take their top off and I'm horrified in the wrong way. But Charlie walked in all pleased with himself with his twenty-six-pack abs (sic) ready to rumble."
Charlie Hunnam promised that he would get into incredible shape for this film, even saying he was going to do 500 push-ups everyday, as he wanted to "look like one of those guys who do that." After filming concluded, Hunnam revealed that he did in fact do several hundred push-ups every day, with his personal record being 1,050 push-ups in a single day.
Charlie Hunnam said that he closely observed Ultimate Fighting Championship Irish featherweight Conor McGregor to incorporate his fighting style and his ultra-ripped physique into his portrayal of a young "street" version of Arthur. Hunnam watched hours and hours of interviews and fight footage of McGregor on YouTube because he thought he would be an interesting model for the character.
Originally, Joel Kinnaman was cast as Lancelot and Kit Harington was cast as King Arthur, but the movie was delayed because the studio wanted a more well-known cast and it had a greatly reduced budget.
The film was pitched to the studio and the actors as Lord of the Rings meets Guy Ritchie's own Snatch (2000). Charlie Hunnam said that description sold him on the movie, saying, "That's a film I wanted to see."
Astrid Bergès-Frisbey beat out Felicity Jones, Elizabeth Olsen and Alicia Vikander for the role of the Mage.
Charlie Hunnam said that he achieved his biggest size ever for King Arthur (2017). He stated, "I got big -- bigger than I've ever been. I got to 190 pounds!"
Henry Cavill and Jai Courtney were the other two finalists for the role of King Arthur, apart from Charlie Hunnam. The final audition comprised two rounds. The first was a sit-down chat with director Guy Ritchie and the second round was a full-fledged audition. Ritchie instantly liked Hunnam after their ninety-minute talk and told him, "I really f***ing dig you, bro. I hope you act as well as you talk, and I look forward to seeing you tomorrow." Hunnam performed equally well in the audition and won the role.
Idris Elba was reportedly strongly considered for the role of Merlin in the film, but it turned out to be just a rumor as Elba commented on the matter, stating, "Unfortunately, I'm not in the 'King Arthur' movies. That was a rumor. That wasn't true, unfortunately. But I wish the guys a lot of success."
Charlie Hunnam's introduction scene in the film was originally very different. The finished film introduces him shirtless, doing some intense wrestling and shadow-boxing (punching the air), but Hunnam revealed it was a much bigger sequence earlier, saying, "We had this whole montage planned out with pull-ups and push-ups and heavy bag boxing -- a proper 'Rocky' montage. And the shadow boxing that I do was just me trying to stay in the zone in the takes, and that's ultimately what Guy chose to use in the film."
Director Guy Ritchie's first cut reputedly came in at three hours and thirty minutes.
Charlie Hunnam said that he had to go to the gym everyday, even during filming, after shooting for sixteen hours a day in order to maintain his "musclebound look" for the character. Hunnam put on a lot of muscle mass for the role, but doing sword fighting for sixteen hours day acted as cardio, burning off his muscle. Thus, he had to keep training throughout the shoot to maintain his muscle mass. Towards the end, he said he had achieved the fitness level of a professional athlete due to the constant cardio work and gym work.
Both Charlie Hunnam and Jude Law previously starred together in Cold Mountain (2003), where Law played the protagonist while Hunnam played the antagonist - the opposite of their roles in this movies.
The song that plays during the latter part of the ComiCon trailer is an adaptation of the traditional song "Wild Wild Berry," which is itself an adaptation of the traditional song "Lord Randall." In both cases, the lyrics speak of a young lord who comes home from feasting and wants nothing but to lay on his bed and rest. When questioned, he reveals he was poisoned by the woman he took to be his true love. After the lord's death, the woman who poisoned him is executed.
Mikael Persbrandt dropped out of the long-running "Beck" series, which made him a star in Sweden, to appear in this film.
Both Aidan Gillen and Michael McElhatton are in the TV series Game of Thrones (2011), as well as Eline Powell.
Sam Lee recorded a new version of the "The Wild Wild Berry" specifically for the trailer. It was initially only meant to be for the trailer, but due to overwhelming fan demand, a full version was recorded and released on the soundtrack.
Maciej Kwiatkowski, Wojciech Roguski and Slawomir Kurek from Prime Fury Stunt Team, the same team that did all motion captures for The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (2015) game, did the motion capture stunts, performance and fight choreography.
Freddie Fox (Ed) has a sister, Emilia Fox, who portrayed Morgause, the maternal half-sister of Morgana (King Arthur was Morgana's paternal half-brother), which was portrayed by Katie McGrath (Elsa in this film), in Merlin (2008), a BBC series based on Arthurian Legend.
Coincidentally, as a six-year-old child, Charlie Hunnam was so obsessed with director John Boorman's Arthurian legend Excalibur (1981), he watched it repeatedly over the years.
On January 21, 2016, Warner Bros. announced this film would be pushed back from February 17, 2017 to March 24, 2017. The title was also changed to "King Arthur: Legend of the Sword" in July 2016.
King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017) is the fourth film based on Arthurian legend to be produced and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, following Camelot (1967), Excalibur (1981), and The Magic Sword: Quest for Camelot (1998).
Very little of Toby Harold's script was used. Producer Lionel Wigram rewrote it considerably.
Katie McGrath (Elsa) and Georgina Campbell (Kay) have both worked in projects with actor Alfie Stewart. McGrath worked with him in Merlin: The Hollow Queen (2012), as Daegel and Morgana, respectively, and Campbell worked with him in Sadie J (2011), as Keith and Whitney, respectively.
This film marks the third collaboration between Jude Law and director Guy Ritchie. They previously worked together on Sherlock Holmes (2009) and its 2011 sequel.
The classic Arthurian character Guinevere was originally going to be a part of this movie, as Arthur's love interest. However, director Guy Ritchie said he could not give that storyline enough screen time, so the character was rewritten and became the Mage (played by Astrid Berges-Frisbey).
Sticky Studios developed the official "King Arthur: Legend of the Sword" game for iOS and Android. It uses the "dojo" area as seen in the trailer as a setup to show Arthur's street fighting skills. The game uses swipe based gestures for hand combat and wielding the Excalibur sword. The studio also designed a virtual reality activity for Google Daydream, which allows players to fight using motion gestures.
Charlie Hunnam and Eric Bana previously starred together in movie called Deadfall (2012).
Warner Bros. had also tried to remake John Boorman's Excalibur (1981) with Bryan Singer directing, but the box office failure of Singer's very expensive Jack the Giant Slayer (2013) led to its cancellation.
In this film, Charlie Hunnam and Jude Law trade places as the main protagonist and his nemesis from the movie Cold Mountain (2003).
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