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Sons of Anarchy: The Real Life Biker Who Inspired Charlie Hunnam’s Jax

The story of Jax Teller from Sons of Anarchy is fictional, but Charlie Hunnam based everything about the character on a real-life biker.

The stories seen throughout Sons of Anarchy are fictional, but the Charlie Hunnam Sons of Anarchy character took inspiration from a real-life biker that the actor met when preparing to play Jax Teller. In 2008, viewers traveled to the town of Charming to meet a motorcycle club in the TV series Sons of Anarchy, created by Kurt Sutter. Sons of Anarchy was very well received from the beginning, with critics praising its tone, themes, and the performances of its main cast, and the series lived on for a total of seven seasons, coming to an end in 2014.

Sons of Anarchy tells the story of Jackson “Jax” Teller (Charlie Hunnam), VP of the motorcycle club Sons of Anarchy in the fictional town of Charming, California. The events of the series are kicked off when Jax finds a manifesto written by his late father, John Teller, one of the founding members of the MC, in which he shared his plans and vision for the club. These were very different from those of the current President and Jax’s stepfather, Clay Morrow (Ron Perlman), sending Jax on a personal journey that leads him to question his path, role in the club, relationships, family, and more. Sons of Anarchy tells fictional stories, but it did take a lot of inspiration from real-life motorcycle clubs and their culture, and even Hunnam was inspired by one biker in particular.

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Related: Sons Of Anarchy: Jax’s SAMCRO Manifesto Explained & What Went Wrong

Jax Teller was the lead of Sons of Anarchy from beginning to end and went through a whole journey that saw him go from SAMCRO’s hope to change their history and take them on a new path, to the man who almost destroyed the club he grew up in. Jax’s story isn’t based on that of a real-life person and it takes many elements from William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, a confirmed inspiration for the show, but the Charlie Hunnam Sons of Anarchy character Jax was heavily based around a real biker he met in several other key ways. Speaking to The Huffington Post back in 2015, Hunnam was asked if he got to spend time with real motorcycle clubs, and he shared that he spent a lot of time with one particular club during the initial rehearsal period of Sons of Anarchy, and that’s where he met the real Jax Teller.


Hunnam Based Jax On A Young Oakland Biker With A Similarly Tragic Fate

Jax Tellar, the lead protagonist of Sons of Anarchy

Hunnam explained he went to Oakland before Sons of Anarchy season 1 started shooting and hung out with “a very well-known club that have a presence in Oakland,” enough for him to get the feel of what life as a member of a motorcycle club is all about. Once there, he met a 22-year-old member of the club who Hunnam says “was Jax Teller.” His dad was in the club, he had been in it his whole life as well, and he was “the heir apparent.” Hunnam went on to describe the unnamed biker as having “an amazing presence about him” and was like “an old school outlaw, cowboy” and gunslinger in the modern-day. Unfortunately, the young biker also had a similar fate to Jax Teller’s, as according to Hunnam, he was killed the week after he left Oakland. Hunnam inherited his necklace, which he keeps as a memorial for him. The biker had such an impact on the actor that he based everything about Jax on him – from the jeans and shoes he wore to his mannerisms.


Jax as a person was based on a real-life biker from Oakland, but his journey was an original story with Shakespearean touches, and so it’s equal parts dark and interesting that Jax and his real-life counterpart ended up having the same fate, as Jax Teller arranged his death in the series finale. It’s hard to imagine how different Jax from Sons of Anarchy would have been had he not met that young biker, but that experience surely added a lot more realism and emotion to Jax.

SOA Cast Real Hells Angels In The Show To Add Authenticity

Sons of Anarchy actors Hells Angels members

Not only was the Charlie Hunnam Sons of Anarchy character Jax Teller based on a real biker, but the series also cast several real-life members of the motorcycle club Hells Angels to preserve its authenticity. David Labrava, Rusty Coones, Chuck Zito, and Ralph “Sonny” Barger all featured in Sons of Anarchy playing roles of varying prominence over the show’s seven seasons. This is not only a fun detail about the show, but it also illustrates Sons of Anarchy‘s high level of commitment to depicting the lives of motorcycle club members as accurately as possible. Sons of Anarchy‘s Hells Angels casting and Charlie Hunnam’s tribute to the real biker he met are strong examples of this dedication to verisimilitude.


Next: Sons of Anarchy True Story: How Accurate Its Portrayal of MCs Is

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