From Sean Connery to Charlie Hunnam: 6 Actors Who Have Played King Arthur

8:30 AM 5/11/2017

by Kara Haar

The newest film about the medieval king — 'King Arthur: Legend of the Sword,' starring Hunnam — hits theaters May 12.

A combination of romance, action and adventure are brought to the big screen with every King Arthur film. Each movie focuses on the legend and mythology behind of Arthur's reign and the Knights of the Round Table.

However, in the two most recent films — King Arthur (2004) and Guy Ritchie's King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017) — the magic is left out to tell a more realistic story set in the period when the Roman Empire collapsed and power broke out in outlying countries. The journey follows Arthur as he struggles to remain King of England and defend his people.

The movies are all based in medieval times, with a different British male to take the lead as king. Below is a list of six actors who played Arthur.

 

  • Richard Harris

    Camelot (1967)

    Courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment

    This musical tells the story of King Arthur and Guenevere (Vanessa Redgrave)'s marriage. Guenevere begins having feelings for Lancelot (Franco Nero), who threatens to destroy Arthur's round table of knights. In 1968, Camelot won three Oscars, for best art direction-set decoration, best costume design and best music.

    Harris died Oct. 25, 2002, at the age of 72. He was best known for his work in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001) and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) as Dumbledore. He scored an Oscar nomination in 1963 for his work in This Sporting Life.

  • Nigel Terry

    Excalibur (1981)

    Warner Bros./Photofest

    Uther Pendragon (Gabriel Byrne) is given a mystical sword named Excalibur, but when he dies, he buries the sword into a stone. King Arthur pulls the sword years later and becomes king. Arthur's evil half-sister, Morgana (Helen Mirren), tries to overthrow his power by taking his place as ruler.

    The film also stars Liam Neeson as Gawain, Cherie Lunghi as Guenevere and Nicholas Clay as Lancelot.

    Terry died April 30, 2015. at the age of 69. He was best known for his role as King Arthur in Excalibur but was also a classical stage, TV, and film actor. He also played such historic and medieval roles as Sir Thomas Grey in the television series Covington Cross (1992) and Archeptolemus in the film Troy (2004).

  • Sean Connery

    First Knight (1995)

    Columbia Pictures/Photofest

    Lancelot (Richard Gere) falls in love with Guinevere (Julia Ormond), but Guinevere fancies the crown. She is due to marry King Arthur and must choose between the two. Meanwhile, a violent warlord tries to seize Arthur's power and his Knights of the Round Table.

    Connery is best known for playing James Bond in seven films from 1962-83. He has won an Academy Award for his performance in The Untouchables (1987) and three Golden Globes awards. In 2006, Connery confirmed his retirement from acting but performed a voice-over for short animated film Sir Billi the Vet in 2012.

  • Edward Fox

    Prince Valiant (1997)

    Screengrab

    The film follows the adventure of Prince Valiant (Stephen Moyer), a squire in King Arthur's court. He disguises himself as a knight to fight for Princess Ilene (Katherine Heigl). All the while, King Arthur reigns in Camelot, but his evil sister, Morgan le Fay, tries to steal his sword, which would overthrow Arthur's power.

    Fox is best known for his roles in Gandhi (1982), The Day of the Jackal (1973) and Never Say Never Again (1983). He's won two British Academy Film Awards. Currently, Fox is on FX's series show Taboo, playing Horace Delaney.

  • Clive Owen

    King Arthur (2004)

    Touchstone Pictures/Photofest

    This film focuses on the history of the period of time when King Arthur ruled. Arthur is torn between his privacy and his sense of public duty. He finds out that when Rome is gone, Britain will need a king. The king will need to fight against the Saxons and lead the isle into a new age. Arthur will have to find the strength to change the course of history.

    The film also stars Keira Knightley as Guinevere, Joel Edgerton as Gawain and Ioan Gruffudd as Lancelot.

    Owen is known for his television and film work in Croupier (1998) and Children of Men (2006). He's won a Golden Globe and a BAFTA Award and was nominated in 2004 for an Academy Award for his performance in the drama Closer. This year, Owen will star in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, Andorra and Anon.

  • Charlie Hunnam

    King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017)

    Warner Bros./Photofest

    King Arthur is unaware of his power until he grabs the sword, Excalibur. He must learn to understand the weapon, deal with his demons and unite the people to defeat the dictator Vortigern (Jude Law), the man who murdered his parents and stole his crown to become king.

    Hunnam is known for his work in the television series Sons of Anarchy as Jax Teller on FX. He also recently starred in the The Lost City of Zas Percy Fawcett and will star in the film Papillonlater this year. However, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword is Hunnam's biggest leading role yet.

    "We just wanted to make sure that it was fresh and felt modern and had something to say that hadn't been said before," Hunnam said of the character, according to ComicBook. "We've seen the version of Arthur that's the noble man who goes on the journey to be the noble king."

    He added: "We said we wanted to do something the opposite of that; we wanted to make him a little bit of a motherf—er. So he starts off he's tough; he's streetwise; he a little bit selfish but at center of it he has a good heart."

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