He's best known for his starring role as Jackson “Jax” Teller in TV's “Sons of Anarchy,” the highest-rated drama in the FX network’s history. Now, Charlie Hunnam as embattled Jaeger pilot Raleigh Becket in Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures' futuristic action adventure “Pacific Rim.”
In the film, when legions of monstrous alien creatures, known as Kaiju, started rising from the sea, a war began that would take millions of lives and consume humanity’s resources for years on end. To combat the giant Kaiju, a special type of weapon was devised: massive robots, called Jaegers, which are controlled simultaneously by two pilots whose minds are synched via a neural bridge, called “The Drift.” But as the enemy grows more powerful with each attack, even the Jaegers are proving nearly defenseless in the face of the relentless Kaiju.
On the verge of defeat, the forces defending mankind have no choice but to turn to two unlikely heroes—a washed up former pilot (Hunnam) and an untested trainee (Rinko Kikuchi)—who are teamed to drive a seemingly obsolete Jaeger. Together, they stand as mankind’s last hope against the mounting apocalypse.
Director Guillermo Del Toro emphasizes, “The robot is only as good a fighter as the fighters inside. Ultimately, the most important dynamic that determines who pilots the Jaegers, and how effective they’ll be, is the relationship between the people.”
Early in the Jaeger program, it was discovered that the complexity and sheer size of the robots made it impossible for one person to handle alone. The neural load proved fatal for a single brain. Eventually, they learned that it could only be done with two pilots: one controlling the Jaeger’s right hemisphere; the other, the left. But in order for that to work, they had to be in perfect sync—connected to the robot in body, and to each other in mind.
That mental fusion is known as “The Drift.” Del Toro notes, “The two pilots become one unit, fused with each other and with the machine. But in order to do that, you have to be prepared to let somebody literally peek into your mind…into your soul.”
That theory resulted in most Jaeger co-pilot teams being immediate family, as is the case with Raleigh Becket and his older brother, Yancy, played by Diego Klattenhoff.
As soon as the Jaegers started gaining the upper hand against the monstrous invaders, their heroic pilots became nothing less than rock stars to a grateful and adoring public. When we meet Raleigh, he has the swagger of a Jaeger jockey who is on top of the world. Says Charlie Hunnam, “He’s young and full of bravado and lives to kick ass against the Kaiju. He’s doing very well piloting his Jaeger, Gipsy Danger, with his brother, but in their desire to protect humanity, they disobey an order, which turns out to be a tragic mistake that forces Raleigh to leave the Jaeger corps behind.”
Del Toro comments, “Raleigh is a man who is basically goodhearted and genuinely earnest and brave. He knows he has a dangerous job, but he has a code of honor that makes him willing to put his life on the line to save another life, despite any risk. Charlie Hunnam was the perfect choice to play Raleigh because he is able to convey that sincerity and purity of heart, and that mix of toughness and vulnerability. I’ve admired his work for years and believe he is on the brink of movie stardom. I was so happy to have the chance to direct him on this film.”
Hunnam had met del Toro years earlier and mentions that they also “have Ron Perlman in common,” referring to his “Sons of Anarchy” series castmate and longtime friend of the director. He continues, “I got a call saying that Guillermo was interested in me for this new film. We met and he gave me a vague outline of the story and who the character was. Then, about a week later, he called and offered it to me.
Of course I said yes, and that was the first time in my career that I committed to a project without first reading the script. It was a leap of faith because, script or no script, I was signing on to work with Guillermo. He’s in a class of his own in both his imagination and his ability to bring together fantastical but fully dimensional worlds that you can believe in.”
Opening across the Philippines in July 11 in IMAX 3D, Digital 3D, 2D and regular theaters, “Pacific Rim” will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.