Who is the best King Arthur?
On May 19, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword will once again bring the famous Arthurian saga to the silver screen. Sons of Anarchy star Charlie Hunnam plays the famous English monarch in the film by cult director Guy Ritchie, purported to be the prelude to a new movie franchise.
Six films are planned by Ritchie in the Camelot universe, with King Arthur: Legend of the Sword focused on the young Arthur who has yet to discover his destiny.
Alongside Charlie Hunnam, the film boasts a star-studded cast including Jude Law as Arthur’s antagonist Vortigern, with Eric Bana and Djimon Hounsou in supporting roles. The style of the film is also unusual, mixing action elements with fantasy a lá Game of Thrones by introducing dragons and giant elephants.
To mark the upcoming release of King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, we look at the legend throughout film and TV history. After all, Arthur and his legendary knights have appeared many times on the small and big screen. But which actor is the best King Arthur? You decide:
- Charlie Hunnam
- Sean Connery
- Clive Owen
- Nigel Terry
- Bradley James
Film: King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017)
Royal credentials: Charlie Hunnam won over Guy Ritchie to become his choice for the title role. The blonde Brit has proven that he can play troubled characters outstandingly well with his signature role as a brutal biker in the drama series Sons of Anarchy. Likewise, his Arthur is far from a shining hero, but a half-criminal who grows up in the gutter.
Film: First Knight (1995)
Royal credentials: First Knight sets the Arthurian tale as a romantic drama concentrating on the love triangle between the king, his knight Lancelot (Richard Gere) and Lady Guinevere (Julia Ormond). Sean Connery plays Arthur with his typical dignity as a seasoned king at an advanced age. Fans of the Scottish icon and his inimitable accent get their money’s worth here.
Film: King Arthur (2004)
Royal credentials: The 2004 feature chooses a grounded and gritty approach to the subject material. All elements of the well-known story including the sword Excalibur and Merlin are given a more logical explanation. Clive Owen plays the title character as a tough Roman fighter and not as Prince Charming - a welcome change from other films. This is a must for lovers of impressive, dirty battle scenes.
Bonus: Keira Knightley plays Guinevere as a belligerent warrior woman with fighting spirit.
Film: Excalibur (1981)
Royal credentials: Excalibur has achieved cult status among fans and is considered one of the most popular incarnations of the Camelot story. The top cast features Ciarán Hinds, Patrick Stewart, Liam Neeson and Helen Mirren, as well as the mix of literature and fantasy, and still sets standards to this day. The part of Arthur was the standout role of the famous stage actor Nigel Terry, who sadly died in 2015. Although Terry was 35-years-old during filming, it was particularly unusual that he played the king both as a teenager and an adult.
Series: Merlin (2008-2012)
Royal credentials: Briton Bradley James played the young Arthur for five seasons in the series Merlin, who in the beginning is an arrogant and spoiled royal brat. Only his friendship with the generous and gentle Merlin sets the heir on the path to later greatness. James plays the king of Camelot as an athletic leader who is a sensational swordsman and naturally commands the loyalty of the people. Fun Fact: Bradley James has great similarity with the young Arthur from the Disney movie The Sword in the Stone from 1963.