These days, the success of a film can be difficult to measure. It requires more than just a passing look at box office receipts. On paper, Guillermo del Toro’s 2013 kaiju love letter Pacific Rim took in over $400 million at the global box office, with $100 million of that coming from the US alone. Those sums were enough to justify a sequel for Warner Bros. and Legendary, but the narrative around the release of the movie still had the ring of minor disappointment.
Charlie Hunnam, one of the film’s stars, looks back on Pacific Rim similarly, but for a much different reason. When EW spoke with the former Sons of Anarchy actor on the set of Guy Ritchie’s King Arthur, the conversation turned to working on an effects-heavy film and how that can be inhibiting as a performer. “When it becomes very technical, those technical aspects create a rigidity to the process,” he said. “Then all of the sudden, you have to find where your little place to fit into that process is, as opposed to the whole thing being about you.”
That rigidity is partially what led to his disappointment with Pacific Rim, which in the end favored the robots and their fights with monsters, over the Jaeger pilots inside their heads. “I think world creation and monster creation and all of that stuff is exciting as a secondary element of storytelling. When it becomes more important than storytelling, I get very nervous, and you sort of lose me a little bit,” Hunnam said. “Although we tried very hard on Pacific Rim to marry those two elements, I do feel like ultimately it got weighed heavier on the side of spectacle than storytelling.”
With Pacific Rim 2 scheduled to shoot this fall, that balance is something that Hunnam is excited to take another crack at. “I hope that we are able to remedy that a little bit going into the second,” he said. “Not to say I wasn’t proud of the film. I really liked it, and I felt like it delivered exactly what it was supposed to. But I do feel like we could have maybe plumbed the depths of the character and the storytelling a little bit more.”
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To continue reading the cover story on King Arthur, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on newsstands Friday.