Eclusive: Djimon Hounsou Talks King Arthur Legend Of The SwordPosted by Wilson Morales
May 10, 2017
Coming out this week from Warner Bros. Pictures is the action fantasy film King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, directed by Guy Ritchie and starring Charlie Hunnam and Jude Law.
The film is an iconoclastic take on the classic Excalibur myth, tracing Arthur’s journey from the streets to the throne.
When the child Arthur’s father is murdered, Vortigern (Jude Law), Arthur’s uncle, seizes the crown. Robbed of his birthright and with no idea who he truly is, Arthur comes up the hard way in the back alleys of the city. But once he pulls the sword from the stone, his life is turned upside down and he is forced to acknowledge his true legacy…whether he likes it or not.
Also featured in the film are Astrid Bergès-Frisbey as Mage; Oscar nominee Djimon Hounsou (“Blood Diamond,” “In America”) as Bedivere; Aidan Gillen as Goosefat Bill; and Eric Bana as Arthur’s father, King Uther Pendragon.
For Hounsou, this isn’t his first rodeo doing action fantasy films, having appeared in Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, Eragon, and Seventh Son.
Blackfilm.com recently spoke with Hounsou about his role in the film and working with Ritchie and Hunnam.
What attracted you to this project?
Djimon Hounsou: What attracted me to the role was my director Guy Ritchie. I love his dynamic style of directing. And obviously the story and wondering what will he do with this story. That will be interesting to see his perspective of this story. It would be quite exciting so that was the attraction. Certainly being a minority trying to exist in that world is a plus for us. We have always existed in that world but they just chose to cross us out. Other than that, it’s quite gratifying.
How would you describe your character Sir Bedivere?
Djimon Hounsou: He’s a loyal trusted confidant to Arthur. He was a knight under Uther Pendragon and knew the Pendragon family. He was present when the born king, the heir to the throne was born. The only difference with this interpretation is that we dive a little deeper with the Pendragon with respect to Arthur.
Had you seen the other King Arthur films?
Djimon Hounsou: Yes. I saw the Sean Connery film (First Knight) and John Boorman’s Excalibur, which is the one that I really liked at the time. Back when I growing up in France, I remembered how this story resembled some of our kings. That story resonated something real for me back then. Fast forward to today and to be part of this story, I’m humbled.
There’s some GCI and a number of Guy Ritchie’s style in this film. How was working in that mode?
Djimon Hounsou: We don’t really deal a lot with CGI then than the green screen and that’s from our perspective. The CGI now is part of our imagination. There’s scene where the size of an elephant is enormous. With Guy’s style, there had to be a lot of editing to help paved this king’s journey. Some of those things were not present at the time we were filming, it really doesn’t take anything away from the execution itself.
How was working with Guy and learning something different than what you picked up from other directors?
Djimon Hounsou: With Guy Ritchie, I won’t compare him to other directors. It would be a disservice to do so based on a particular film. Depending on the style of the film, everyone is doing something different. Guy’s approach is very organic and very on the moment and very on the go. He’s open-minded to change things, from one page of dialogue to the whole thing.
How was working with Charlie Hunnam? The two of you have good rapport on-camera.
Djimon Hounsou: The notion is that no one can do anything by themselves. You can be a billionaire but you still need the help of a group of people in order to function and be productive in life. We’re social beings, which means we can only function socially by interacting and helping one another. It takes a village to make a film. This was a huge undertaking so you need everyone’s collaboration in order to bring your ideas and stories out.
This is not your first medieval film. Is that genre an attraction for you?
Djimon Hounsou: At one time I overheard something in Hollywood and there was a character I wanted to play and he was a bad character, and I heard “Djimon is too regal to be playing a belittling character.” At the time, I took it as an offense because I’m an actor and I feel that I can sink my teeth into any character and we want to play interesting and diverse roles. But now, I see why they were saying about that.
What’s the appeal of seeing King Arthur: Legend of the Sword?
Djimon Hounsou: I would say that the appeal has a lot to do with the story that most people can relate to or something they can identify with. Our interpretation of King Arthur is better in the sense that any man, no matter what color they are, can be king. That’s what were are trying to say. The sense of loyalty, the sense of camaraderie, and certainly the loyalty from Bedivere. His loyalty to Uther Pendragon led him to look for the heir to the throne. His search has gone on for 25 years, tirelessly. When Arthur finds himself to be the chosen one, he doesn’t embrace it at first, but has to man up to it when destiny calls. The responsibility of taking the throne is bigger than he imagined. This is a man who was raised by women in a brothel and had a street life for a long time, and from the streets became a king. That’s something that most of us can fantasize about.
Djimon Hounsou: I have a film that I did with Renee Zellweger and Greg Kenner called Same Kind of Different where I play a homeless guy and that’s a powerful story. I’m looking forward for people to see that.