'King Arthur: Legend of the Sword': Guy Ritchie, Charlie Hunnam, and Djimon Hounsou on Modernizing a Classic Tale

Ethan Alter
Senior Writer, Yahoo Entertainment

The legend of King Arthur is a timeless tale of heroism that ultimately ends in tragedy. But a story can be timeless without feeling stuck in the past. That’s the challenge director Guy Ritchie faced when he took on the task of making a version of the legend that could feel relevant to contemporary audiences. The result is King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, which combines certain familiar Arthurian elements — Excalibur, Camelot, the Round Table — with the modern trappings of blockbuster fantasy filmmaking. “It’s a repetition of a narrative that is about finding oneself,” the director tells Yahoo Movies. “Now I’ve got to stick as much tinsel and jazz hands on it as I would like as an audience member.” (Watch our video interview above.)

Star Charlie Hunnam, who plays the young Arthur, points to Ritchie’s treatment of Excalibur as one example of how Legend of the Sword — which opens in theaters on May 12 — tweaks traditional Arthurian mythology. “Historically, the sword — Excalibur — is the symbol of the true and born king,” the actor explains, “whereas Guy imbued it with a much more mystical significance.” Ritchie also diversified the lineup of compatriots who help Arthur on his journey to the throne, casting Djimon Hounsou as Sir Bedivere. “It needs to speak to this world, not that world back then,” Hounsou says. “The approach that Guy Ritchie had … is really trying to make this story everybody’s story.”