Belfast Telegraph

Charlie Hunnam says he shuns ‘rigged game’ of private prison investments

The Papillon actor said he rejected a financial adviser’s tips because he does not want to “profit from other people’s suffering”.

Charlie Hunnam says he has repeatedly rejected advice to invest in private prisons because he does not want to “profit from other people’s suffering”.

The actor, who is starring as an inmate in the remake of Papillon, said on Thursday that the US in particular was creating a “rigged game” by making money keeping convicts locked up.

He told the Press Association: “For years my financial adviser has advocated that I invest in prisons because it’s a really wonderful investment because the value of the stocks rise and fall depending on the occupancy of the prison.

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Charlie Hunnam

“Now, that’s a rigged game because if you are allowed to decide who stays for how long then you can always have that business running at maximum efficiency.

“It’s like a very, very big problem that we are looking at because we should really be trying to help, improve, educate and send people back out into society to be productive members.”

Donald Trump’s tenure as US president has reportedly given a great boost to private prison contractors, with his rhetoric over immigration clampdown causing share prices to jump.

The UK currently has 14 private prisons, being managed by contractors Sodexo, Serco and G4S.

When asked if that was an investment he resisted, Hunnam said: “Every interaction energetically that you engage in in this life has a consequence and that’s not something I want to be involved in at all, to profit from other people’s suffering is not something that I would feel comfortable in.”

The 37-year-old, who plays the lead role of Henri Charriere, was speaking at the world premiere of Papillon at the Toronto International Film Festival.

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Charlie Hunnam

His character is based on the semi-autobiographical novel by Henri Charriere of his experience behind bars, and his attempts to flee them.

The author, played by Steve McQueen in the 1973 film which also featured Dustin Hoffman, claimed he was incarcerated for a murder he did not commit.

Hunnam, from Newcastle, said he did not watch McQueen’s performance, saying it would be “foolish” to draw inspiration from the actor’s portrayal, and instead said he drew influence from friends who have served time.

Producer Joey McFarland also tried to distance the film from being seen as a remake, acknowledging they are a “four-letter word these days”.

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