Why Charlie Hunnam Said No to Forgetting Sarah Marshall Role Written for Him

Most actors come to Hollywood in search of riches. But for some actors, the path to a lucrative career is as important as the end goal of a fat paycheck. Charlie Hunnam found himself facing a predicament when he had the opportunity to be a part of a surefire hit comedy movie, Forgetting Sarah Marshall. As Hunnam told Collider, sitting for the table read for the project brought about a crisis of faith of sorts with regards to his career.

“Jason Segel wrote Forgetting Sarah Marshall for he and I to do together, and he wrote that [Russell Brand] role [of Aldous Snow] for me. I went and I did the table read and it was very successful. Judd 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 that period of my life and career, what I wanted to be doing.”

At the time, Charlie Hunnam was still a largely undiscovered actor, with his most prolific credits being a supporting role on the 2001 college sitcom Undeclared, and the role of Jax Teller on FX’s Sons of Anarchy. While the offer of a role in a Judd Apatow comedy written specifically for him was appealing, Hunnam had to take a stand with regards to the direction he wanted to take his career in.

“Jason was one of my best friends [the pair had worked together on ‘Undeclared’], 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. 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 is.'”

Despite his decision causing friction among his friends and colleagues, Hunnam stuck to his guns, and the role of Aldous Snow went to Russell Brand instead. Snow turned out to be a breakout role for Brand, and audiences fell in love with his charismatic take on a character that is supposed to be a rival to the movie’s lead character. For his part, Hunnam believes his decision to walk away from Snow allowed for the character to be played by someone who was much more suited to the part.

“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.’ My relationship with Jason gave birth to that character, but 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. It’s all you can really ever do.”

This news originated over at Collider.

Neeraj Chand

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