Life & Style Weekend - - SCREENLIFE - WORDS: SEANNA CRONIN Robin Hood opens in cin­e­mas on Thurs­day.


Be­fore cin­ema-go­ers see him as pop mu­sic icon El­ton John, Taron Eger­ton takes on an­other, much older leg­end. The ris­ing British tal­ent, best known for his roles in Kings­man: The Se­cret Ser­vice and Ed­die The Ea­gle, adds an­other string to his bow as the lat­est in­car­na­tion of me­dieval out­law Robin Hood. He stars op­po­site Jamie Foxx in di­rec­tor Otto Bathurst’s mod­ern retelling of the hero of English folk­lore who stole from the rich to give to the poor. “There are some great Robin Hood films, but what was very dif­fer­ent about this one was the very, very clear in­ten­tion right from the be­gin­ning to make a Robin Hood story that was rel­e­vant to the 21st cen­tury,” Bathurst says. “This is a story that’s been told for 500 or 600 years, and there’s a rea­son this leg­end has been told for so long. This guy was a rev­o­lu­tion­ary, a sword of truth, a guy de­spite what­ever cor­rup­tion or evil or re­pres­sion was go­ing on at the time was pre­pared to stand up and chal­lenge it and say no. That’s a re­ally in­spir­ing story no mat­ter when it’s told. “Most of the sto­ries we see to­day are (about) su­per­heroes and whilst they’re fun you watch them, as an au­di­ence it doesn’t em­power or in­spire you in any way. It doesn’t say to you as an au­di­ence ‘you can do this too’. I thought the idea of an ev­ery-man hero was re­ally in­ter­est­ing.” That vi­sion in­flu­enced ev­ery de­ci­sion made by the BAFTA Award-win­ning di­rec­tor, best known for his work on the TV se­ries Peaky Blin­ders and Black Mir­ror, from the dark, gritty set de­sign to cast­ing choices in­clud­ing Aussies Tim Minchin as Friar Tuck and Ben Men­del­sohn as the Sher­iff of Not­ting­ham. “The last thing I wanted to do with Tuck was to have that swelling, bald id­iot, which is how Tuck is nor­mally pre­sented,” he says. “For me Tuck is a fas­ci­nat­ing and deeply wise and re­li­gious man, who has a re­ally deep faith but is chal­lenged by the or­gan­i­sa­tion that runs his faith. “Of course there was a de­li­cious nu­ance to the fact that the ac­tor who was go­ing to play Tuck had writ­ten and sung these songs (crit­i­cis­ing the Pope and Car­di­nal Pell). Tim is re­ally bril­liant, in­tel­li­gent, fas­ci­nat­ing and deeply com­mit­ted. “And there has been some great mous­tache twirling in the past with the Sher­iff, but we didn’t want to go that way. We wanted to cre­ate a more mod­ern politi­cian. I’ve loved and ad­mired Ben ever since I’d seen An­i­mal King­dom. He has some pretty dark, cool mo­ments.” Eger­ton de­vel­oped some im­pres­sive archery skills for the film with the help of Dan­ish mod­ern archer Lars An­der­sen. “I didn’t want the film to feel like a big VFX block­buster,” Bathurst says. “I wanted to shoot as much as pos­si­ble in cam­era, which we did. That re­quired Taron to get in­cred­i­bly skilled at archery and we en­listed the help of Lars, who has rein­vented this his­tor­i­cally ac­cu­rate speed archery. We built this no­tion of the bow and ar­row be­ing a gun and Taron can fire ar­rows that quickly. None of the archery stuff with Taron is a stunt­man.” Bathurst ad­mits his ver­sion of Robin Hood won’t be to ev­ery­one’s taste. “Any­body who goes along to the movie ex­pect­ing to see a tra­di­tional Robin Hood will be sorely dis­ap­pointed,” he says. “There will be peo­ple who find the cos­tume and pro­duc­tion de­sign tough to swal­low, but our in­ten­tions were never ever to make an his­tor­i­cally ac­cu­rate movie. “We wanted to cre­ate a look that re­ally wakes the au­di­ence up and tells them this is not a fairy­tale.”

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