Movies

The cast of Robin Hood spill on "contemporary" reimagining of the classic English tale

The Prince of Thieves is back in action with two Aussie actors in tow

By Jenny Cooney Carrillo

Robin Hood is one of the most famous heroes of English folklore and modern cinema.

First came the 1938 film featuring Errol Flynn and Basil Rathbone. Then, the 1973 Walt Disney animation saw Robin as a fox. The 1991 blockbuster Robin Hood, Prince Of Thieves starred Kevin Costner and Alan Rickman, while Ridley Scott's 2010 version featured Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett.

In the latest Robin Hood incarnation, two Aussies are among the A-list cast – but neither Ben Mendelsohn nor Tim Minchin gets to wear the famous tights.

Taron Egerton as the new Robin Hood.
Taron Egerton as the new Robin Hood.

Ben, who is best known for the TV series Bloodline and films Rogue One: A Star Wars Story and Ready Player One, plays the classic villain, the Sheriff of Nottingham.

In describing the film, Ben says he regards director Otto Bathurst's (Peaky Blinders) approach as a mash-up of period and modern styles.

"Otto very much wanted to give it a contemporary feel, but still be dealing with the Crusades and medieval stuff in an origin story," he says.

To prepare for the role, Ben consciously decided not to rewatch any other versions of Robin Hood.

"I don't expect to beat Rickman or Rathbone, but I also don't think I'm fighting the same fight," Ben, 49, explains.

"This is part of the durability and longevity of Robin Hood. Like Hamlet and other classic tales, the eras in which they come into being and the people who play them hopefully bring their own 'je ne sais quoi' [unique quality]."

Ben Mendelsohn plays baddie the Sheriff of Nottingham.
Ben Mendelsohn plays baddie the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Meanwhile, Aussie comedian and singer Tim Minchin admits he couldn't resist starring in a Hollywood blockbuster.

In an amusing twist of fate, Tim was offered the role of Friar Tuck after taking his kids trick-or-treating in Los Angeles with their friends.

"One of the mums thought I had an interesting look and told her husband, who was producing the film," he says.

Because this movie is an origin story, Friar Tuck is still in the church when we meet him.

"He's in this quandary, because he really loves being inside the church – he likes ringing his bells and reading his books and taking confession," Tim, 43, says.

"But eventually he realises the institution is dirty all the way down. And I loved being part of a film that holds a mirror up to our world, with the central theme of taking equality into your own hands."

Tim Minchin looks spot-on as Friar Tuck.
Tim Minchin looks spot-on as Friar Tuck.

"One of the very first questions I asked was: 'Do we need another Robin Hood?'" leading man Taron Egerton reveals.

However, the English star of Kingsman: The Secret Service quickly realised that this Robin Hood was going to be "a version unlike any we'd seen before".

"I was familiar with Otto's style from Peaky Blinders, and knew he was hoping to marry that to his idea of medieval, which sounded like fun," Taron, 29, says.

Meanwhile, Eve Hewson, the daughter of U2 singer Bono, says she relished the chance to play Maid Marian as a feminist.

"She sees Robin's potential and helps him become Robin Hood, and gets into a lot of fights herself," Eve, 27, says.

"I discovered my love of stunts on this movie, and got to do a lot of strangling and kicking and eyeball-gouging. I tried to get a headbutt in and kept asking, but Otto always said no…" [Laughs]

Eve Hewson and Taron Egerton as Maid Marian and Robin Hood.
Eve Hewson and Taron Egerton as Maid Marian and Robin Hood.

Fifty Shades Of Grey star Jamie Dornan plays Will Tillman, a local politician and one of Robin's Merry Men.

The Irish actor, 36, says: "Will is with Marian when Robin comes back after [the] war, so he doesn't like him much in the beginning."

Meanwhile, co-star Jamie Foxx was happy to create a more muscular Little John for this film.

"He'll look so bad-ass!" Jamie, 50, says. "We're using tricks that make the bow look like modern-day weaponry."

Jamie Foxx and Taron Egerton as Little John and Robin Hood.
Jamie Foxx and Taron Egerton as Little John and Robin Hood.

Robin Hood is in cinemas November 22nd 2018.

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