Although the stories in Sons of Anarchy are made up, Charlie Hunnam drew his inspiration for the character of Jax Teller from a real-life biker. In Kurt Sutter’s TV show Sons of Anarchy from 2008, viewers went to the town of Charming to meet a motorcycle club. Sons of Anarchy was favorably welcomed by critics from the start, who praised the tone, topics, and acting of the main actors. The show ran for a total of seven seasons before ending in 2014.
The television series Sons of Anarchy centers on Jackson “Jax” Teller (Charlie Hunnam), the vice president of the Sons of Anarchy motorcycle gang in the made-up town of Charming, California. The series’ events begin when Jax discovers a manifesto written by his late father, John Teller, who was one of the MC’s original members and expressed his goals and vision for the group.
These were quite different from those of Clay Morrow (Ron Perlman), the club’s current president and Jax’s stepfather, causing Jax to reflect on his life’s direction, his place in the club, his relationships, his family, and more. Although Sons of Anarchy presents fictional tales, it drew heavily on real-life motorcycle groups and their culture. Even Hunnam was influenced by one particular biker.
From the beginning to the finish, Jax Teller served as the show’s protagonist. Throughout the course of the series, he transitioned from being SAMCRO’s hope to change their history and lead them down a new road to the person who nearly destroyed the club he grew up in. Although Hunnam based Jax on a genuine biker he met, Jax’s story isn’t based on the lives of a real person and it borrows heavily from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, the show’s acknowledged influence.
When The Huffington Post asked him if he had any experience with real motorcycle clubs, Hunnam replied that he had spent a lot of time with one particular club during the Sons of Anarchy first rehearsal period, where he had also met the real Jax Teller.
Before Sons of Anarchy began filming, Hunnam claimed he visited Oakland and spent time with “a pretty well recognized club that have a presence in Oakland,” which was sufficient for him to acquire a sense of what it’s like to be a motorcycle club member. When he arrived, he encountered a 22-year-old club member who Hunnam claims “was Jax Teller”; Teller’s father was a member of the organization and had been a member his entire life; Teller was “the heir apparent.”
Hunnam continued by saying the nameless motorcyclist was like “an old school outlaw, cowboy, and gunslinger” in the present day and had “an extraordinary presence about him.” Sadly, the young biker shared Jax’s fate; he was slain a week after leaving Oakland, and Hunnam received his necklace, which he now wears as a memento of him. Hunnam was so influenced by the biker that he modelled Jax’s appearance after him, right down to the trousers and shoes he wore.
Although the character of Jax was based on a real-life Oakland biker, his path was an unique tale with Shakespearean elements. As a result, it is both sad and intriguing that Jax and his real-life counterpart met the same end because Jax planned his demise in the series finale. Sons of Anarchy viewers will have to speculate how different Charlie Hunnam’s Jax Teller would have been if he hadn’t encountered the young biker, but that encounter undoubtedly gave Jax a lot more realism and emotion.