Charlie Hunnam is going through a mini-crisis of sorts. You see, the actor, known for playing Jax Teller on Sons of Anarchy for seven seasons, is struggling to make a major decision about his future. He's been active in film and television for the past fifteen years, and there's no sign of him slowing down, but he is contemplating an addition to his private life: children. He's been struggling with "whether my girlfriend and I should make the commitment about having children," he says, sitting across from me at a small, sun-soaked table in the Four Seasons Los Angeles. He's promoting his latest, the based-on-a-true-story adventure tale, The Lost City of Z, out April 14, surrounding the life and explorations of Percy Fawcett at the turn of the 20th century.
And as it turns out, Fawcett and Hunnam have juxtaposing familial struggles. "Fawcett obviously made an enormous amount of sacrifice in his personal life — leaving his wife and children for such great periods of time," he says. "And that's something that we in the film business have to endure a lot. I have a different experience in that I don’t have a wife and children because I’ve invested so much of the last 15 years in pursuing my personal dreams."
But that could all soon change — maybe. "I feel really acutely that we're in the first time in human history where we don't have the luxury of just looking forward and being progress-oriented. We have all of these enormous challenges that we’re facing: climate change, a lack of resources, a lack of water, over population, what seems like an inevitable pending global economic collapse," he says, brushing a few crumbs, the remnants of just-eaten lunch, off the table.
"What is the future for us? Have we reached critical mass? What is survival going to look like? What is the quality of life going to be like, and are we going to be able to carve out any sense of equality within that? Or is the discrepancy of the divide between the haves and the have going to become greater and greater until we have an elite few that are living some sort of life that’s worth living and everybody else is just renegaded to facilitating the chosen few’s existence?"
Though these big, important questions are undeniably daunting, and certainly do not elicit any easy answers, Hunnam hasn't lost hope for mankind. "I’m slightly reassured by humans’ unquestionable ability to adapt and survive," he says.
There is a moment in The Lost City of Z where Sienna Miller, as Fawcett's wife, says to him: "We cannot let fear define our future." It's a beautiful moment, and seems to hold relevance in 2017's fraught political climate. Yet as I speak with Hunnam, his hesitancy to start a family appears to be coming from a place of fear. And he agrees — after all, 2017 is not 1917, and there are vastly different factors to consider.
"I feel like we’re the first generation that is intellectualizing and trying to deny our most basic primal instinct, which is to procreate. But then I’ve had this conversation with people who are older than me and they’ve assured me that every generation feels this, whether it’s the Cold War or a nuclear period — people have these great fears. So, are we going to be able to come up with a fix?"
Though he admits he is scared for our future, he reassures me, more than once, that optimism outweighs his doubts. "I remain hopeful. Candidly, although I have grave misgivings about bringing children into the world, I'm leaning towards a hopeful outlook. Because, you know what? We can't let fear dictate our actions."
Whether or not Hunnam decides to father kids, it's clear that like Fawcett refusing to give up finding his lost city, Hunnam will not lose hope for humanity — despite our uncertain fate.