While Charlie Hunnam and Michiel Huisman have been blessed with many great opportunities in their screen careers, the acclaimed actors told Looper that their experiences on writer-director Zack Snyder’s gritty new space epic “Rebel Moon: Part One – A Child of Fire” rocketed them to a place far past the film’s origin as a potential “Star Wars” story.
Hunnam, of course, starred in the hard-hitting FX crime thriller “Sons of Anarchy” for seven seasons. Just as the series was wrapping up, the actor began his transition to a film career that found his working for such respected directors as Guillermo del Toro on “Pacific Rim” and “Crimson Peak,” as well as Guy Ritchie on “King Arthur: Legend of the Sword” and “The Gentlemen.” Huisman, on the other hand, has largely focused on TV, starring in such hit series as “Game of Thrones,” “Nashville,” “The Haunting of Hill House,” and “The Flight Attendant,” but he has also starred in such films “The Age of Adaline” and “World War Z.”
“Rebel Moon: Part One – A Child of Fire” gives the actors the best of both worlds, as it debuted in theaters for a limited run ahead of its exclusive streaming release on Netflix the evening of December 21. Sofia Boutella stars as Kora, a quiet member of a peaceful farming settlement on the moon of Veldt, whose people suddenly fall under the iron fist of a militaristic planet called the Motherworld. When soldiers from the Motherworld begin their assault on Veldt by brutalizing its residents, Kora shows her deadly skills from a past life, which galvanizes the settlement to fight against their aggressors. Joining in the fight is one of the settlement’s farmers, Gunnar (Huisman), as well as Kai (Hunnam), a soldier who helps Kora assemble her crew.
In our exclusive chat with them, Hunnam and Huisman detailed their work with Snyder, and Hunnam recalled his work with del Toro and how similar he is to the “Rebel Moon” filmmaker.
It is so cool how “Rebel Moon” morphed from this possible “Star Wars” film into its own original creation by Zack Snyder. I can’t help but think both of you guys were excited to get involved in something unique — we don’t see a lot of that these days. To have the chance to do something original and to have it with Zack Snyder must be the ultimate for both of you.
Michiel Huisman: I totally agree. Also, it felt very free because we didn’t have any past stuff to keep in mind or something. This was a totally new and original world, and so were our characters.
Does it add some extra pressure, knowing, “Okay, I’m helping lay the foundation here, so I have to get it right for Zack”?
Charlie Hunnam: It felt [like] because of this process, because Zack had been dreaming of this universe for so long and knew it so fully, all of the worrying was outsourced to Zack. Once we showed up, we realized he wasn’t worrying at all — he was having the greatest time of his life and he was bringing us in — and nobody needed to be precious. Nobody needed to be beholden to the script or any preconceived idea. It was chaos in the best way. I’ve very seldom been on a set that felt so free and so truly collaborative and all about the love of whatever we were doing in that moment.
Michiel, one can easily imagine that your work on “Game of Thrones” would be a great gateway to a film like “Rebel Moon” because it has some grit to it. When you were talking with Zack Snyder about joining the project, did he mention your work on shows like “The Haunting of Hill House” or “The Flight Attendant” maybe adding to the decision in casting you? Because your character isn’t exactly a warrior at first in “Rebel Moon.” He’s more of a normal guy.
Huisman: No, he did not. But I have to admit that in a first talk with Zack in which I feel like he might be considering me for a certain part, I will not ask, “Why are you considering me?” I’m just grateful for the chat, and that conversation felt great.
I personally felt a very strong link to my character the first time I read it. I loved how he’s a humble man, how he’s perhaps a bit more understandable than some of the other characters, especially in the beginning. I loved that especially the first movie is about finding forgiveness for him. I thought, “Wow, this is a character I can sink my teeth [into],” and he really holds his ground in this group of great characters.
— where you worked with Guillermo del Toro. You’ve been lucky to work with so many great directors. Do Guillermo and Zack have any commonalities, or are there stark differences instead? We know they’re both great directors, but what have you taken from both of them?
Hunnam: There are some connections. They’re both clearly master filmmakers. They both draw and realize their idea prior to shooting with a pad of paper and a set of pencils. They both create enormous universes, and unlike some directors that create big universes where it’s all CGI, they both like to create as much practical in the near vicinity that the actors and the directors are going to be working in. There are a lot of parallels.
Guillermo’s process is a lot more exact. Zack’s process is a lot more rock and roll, [like], “Let’s get out there and figure this out. Let’s go make love to it, and who knows what’s going to happen?” That’s the feeling on set. Not to say one’s better than the other, but I loved working with Zack.