Charlie Hunnam On Why He Turned Down Role in Forgetting Sarah Marshall: I Was in 'a Weird Spot'

The role of Aldous Snow in the 2008 film would eventually go to Russell Brand

Charlie Hunnam . Photo: Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty

Charlie Hunnam is looking back at his career and revealing why he turned down a role in Forgetting Sarah Marshall — which would eventually go to comedian Russell Brand.

“It’s funny, I’ll tell you a little story,” Hunnam, 40, said in an interview with Collider. “Jason Segel wrote Forgetting Sarah Marshall for he and I to do together, and he wrote that role [of Aldous Snow] for me.”

The Sons of Anarchy star continued, “I went in and I did the table read and it was very successful. Judd [Apatow] was producing. I was in a dark night of the soul in my career, at that point, and felt as though I needed to seize the trajectory and that just wasn’t really aligning with, at the period of my life and career, what I wanted to be doing.”

Hunnam said Segel was “one of my best friends, which is why he wrote the film for me, but I had to tell him, ‘I’m so sorry, I’m not gonna do this.’”

“It was one of those things where that wasn’t very well received by the inner circle of that production,” Hunnam recalled. “I had to stand my ground and say, ‘Listen, it’s nothing personal. I’m just following my North Star. I’m just in a weird spot and I’m trying to define for myself what the path forward it.’”

Hunnam said he doesn’t regret turning down the role as it was clear to him Brand, 45, was meant for the part.

Forgetting Sarah Marshall
Kristen Bell and Russell Brand in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Universal/courtesy Everett Collection

“It was one of those things where it was really difficult for me for the few months after that or a year after that, and then I saw this piece of stand-up,” Hunnam said. “I didn’t know who Russell Brand was, but I saw this piece of stand-up that Russell Brand did on Christmas Day with my mom. It was just this liberating moment where I said, ‘Obviously, that’s the dude who should have been playing that role. Clearly, I just needed to step out of the way of the universe manifesting itself, the way that it was supposed to.’”

While Hunnam said it was his friendship with Segel that allowed for the character of Aldous Snow to be born, he added “there’s no way I could have done it justice the way Russell Brand did.”

“I think there’s a rhythm to these things and you just have to really follow your instincts,” he said. “It’s all you can really ever do. I suppose I brought that up because it’s a nice example of my instincts being proven to me that it was correct, I think.”

The 2008 film was not the first movie Hunnam backed out of. In 2015, the actor spoke about pulling out of the role of Christian Grey for Fifty Shades of Grey, which would eventually go to Jamie Dornan.

It was the worst professional experience of my life,” Hunnam told V Man magazine. “It was the most emotionally destructive and difficult thing that I’ve ever had to deal with professionally. It was heartbreaking.”

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While critics speculated that Hunnam had gotten cold feet because he was intimidated by the sexual content of the movie, he explained that was not the case.

At the time, Hunnam was offered the part, he had already committed to a role in the film Crimson Peak, directed by his friend and Pacific Rim director Guillermo del Toro. After thinking it over, the actor felt he had to make a choice between the two films — and he had already made a promise to del Toro.

"I’d given Guillermo my word, over a year before, that I was going to do this film," he explained. "People were saying, 'Are you crazy? Guillermo still has got four months to recast, it’s the fourth lead, you can go and do this [instead].' I said, 'I can’t. He’s my friend.'"

Making the tough decision took a toll on the actor, but standing by his prior commitment was important to him. "I really, really pride myself on being a professional and a man of keeping my word," he said. "It means a lot to me, truly."

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