‘Shantaram’ Boss: How Charlie Hunnam’s ‘Emotional Vulnerability’ Helped Him ‘Embody’ Lin (Exclusive)

Steve Lightfoot praises Charlie Hunnam's 'fantastic' performance in 'Shantaram', and reveals the big difference between the show and the book, in this EXCLUSIVE interview.

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Charlie Hunnam is returning to television eight years after Sons of Anarchy ended for the riveting Apple TV+ series Shantaram, where he plays an Australian fugitive named Lin who flees to India to start over. Creator/executive producer Steve Lightfoot praised Charlie’s performance while speaking EXCLUSIVELY to HollywoodLife about Shantaram, which is based on Gregory David Roberts‘ 2003 novel.

“I was a big fan of Charlie’s. I thought he had done such a great variety of work,” Steve told us about the 42-year-old British actor. “He was actually attached to the show when I came onboard. I was a huge fan of the book myself, and the fact that he was attached was another reason why I wanted to do it,” he added.

Charlie Hunnam
Charlie Hunnam in ‘Shantaram’, premiering October 14 (Photo: Apple TV+)

Steve, who created the 12-episode drama triller series with Eric Warren Singer, explained how Charlie’s diverse acting skills helped him nail the role of Lin. “He’s just a very talented actor. He’s got this fantastic blend of action tough that he can deliver, but also emotional vulnerability when it’s required that fit the Lin character perfectly,” Steve said. “He’s this guy that is torn between doing bad, crazy things, and then also being really tortured by the after-effects of that and constantly having to deal with his own nature. I just thought Charlie embodied that perfectly.”

Charlie Hunnam
Charlie Hunnam with Antonia Desplat in ‘Shantaram’ (Photo: Apple TV+)

In Shantaram, Lin escapes an Australian prison and relocates to Bombay in the 1980s, but he’s still far from safe. He falls for Karla (Antonia Desplat) and forms a friendship with Prabhu (Shubbham Saraf). The book is told in a first-person point of view, so as Steve pointed out to HL, the Apple series is less “restrictive” when it comes to exploring the backstories of other characters.

“I think we work very hard to give every character their own story and no one ever just being a side kick to someone else’s story,” Steve told us. “We follow stories without the Lin character in them.”

Charlie Hunnam
Charlie Hunnam and Shubbham Saraf in ‘Shantaram’ (Photo: Apple TV+)

Steve has high hopes that Shantaram will keep viewers on the edge of their seats, even those who have read the book. “I hope they don’t see what’s coming and they unpeel the layers. I think that’s what’s so great about television. Depth of character and how much we can take the audience on a ride with someone,” Steve explained. “And I hope they just love the breath and scale of the show and that world we put on there. It’s a world I haven’t seen on television before and I hope people love being dropped into it.”

Shantaram premieres its first three episodes on October 14 on Apple TV+. New episodes will be released Fridays through December 16.

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