Pacific Rim 2: Charlie Hunnam Not Coming Back for the Sequel

The saga of Universal Pictures and Legendary Entertainment‘s Pacific Rim sequel continues to unfold as original star Charlie Hunnam confirms that he will not have a role in Pacific Rim 2 (currently known as Pacific Rim: Maelstrom). Hunnam shouldered the first film as Jaeger pilot Raleigh Becket, but he told MTV that scheduling conflicts have kept him from reprising the role.

“There was definitely an incarnation of this sequel that involved me, but there was a changing of ownership, of the studio itself, Legendary, and I think that because they partnered up with a Chinese company — and the film was so successful there — there was a real agenda to get that film into production as soon as possible,” Hunnam said. “And I was already booked up for a significant period of the time they were going to need.”

This statement sheds light on what may have happened to push out not only Hunnam from the lead role but also director Guillermo del Toro. Is it possible that Legendary, now under the auspices of China’s Wanda Group, forced del Toro and his screenwriter Jon Spaihts to abandon their plan for a Raleigh-centric sequel due to a push to get the film out to Chinese audiences? Was this what ultimately caused del Toro to abandon the film in favor of smallish monster drama The Shape of Water, with first-timer Steven S. DeKnight taking over?

“I read an early draft of what they’re doing,” Hunnam told Yahoo. “There was one incarnation of this sequel that involved me heavily, but I was unavailable. They have a very definite schedule that they have to film because of the politics and business surrounding filmmaking. Sometimes noncreative decisions will dictate how something unfolds, which seems bass ackwards in the fact that we’re making art, or at least aspiring to make art. It ended up being unfortunately something that we couldn’t remedy, because by the time they got their schedule fully realized then I wasn’t available. But I think they’re onto something very exciting. It’s a serious, significant progression. It feels like they’re really aspiring to push this thing forward and do something original with the sequel. So it’s cool.” 

By repeatedly using the term “heavy involvement” in interviews it sounds as if Hunnam will definitely not be the star of Pacific Rim: Maelstrom, but is his language leaving the door open for a possible appearance? This tactic has worked well in movies like Star Wars: The Force Awakens (where Mark Hamill appeared at the end) or G.I. Joe Retaliation (where Channing Tatum is killed at the beginning). Pacific Rim could be one of those properties where it’s mostly about the brand and less about the stars, although the poor showing of Independence Day: Resurgence has proved that leaving out an identifying figure (Will Smith) can be detrimental. Despite what he says, don’t count Hunnam completely out just yet!

Set for a February 23, 2018 release date, Pacific Rim: Maelstrom is currently set to star John Boyega (Attack the Block, Star Wars: Episode VIII) and Scott Eastwood (The Longest Ride, Suicide Squad), with the Star Wars: The Force Awakens star playing the son of Stacker Pentecost, Idris Elba‘s character from the original Guillermo del Toro film. No word yet on whether Rinko Kikuchi’s Mako Mori or Charlie Day’s Dr. Newton Geiszler will appear. 

RELATED: Jurassic World Scribe to Pen Pacific Rim 2

Pacific Rim 2 will be directed by Steven S. DeKnight (Spartacus, Marvel’s Daredevil) based on the world created by Guillermo del Toro and Travis Beacham and from a script by Jurassic World co-writer Derek Connolly. Thomas Tull, Mary Parent, Jon Jashni, and del Toro will produce the action adventure film along with Boyega and Femi Oguns under their Upper Room Productions shingle. Cale Boyter will serve as the film’s executive producer.

The film will be distributed by Universal Pictures around the world with the exception of China.

Pacific Rim hit theaters in summer 2013 and grossed just $101 million at the domestic box office but went on to take in over $411 million worldwide. The original film starred Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Robert Kazinsky, Max Martini, and Ron Perlman.

There are sure to more Pacific Rim: Maelstrom cast additions to come, so keep checking back for updates as they become available.

How do you feel about Charlie Hunnam not returning to lead the Pacific Rim 2 cast? Share your thoughts in the comments below!