The legend of Robin Hood is one that has been told time and time again over the centuries; the character first thought to have appeared in a poem in the late 1300s. In the 15th century, Robin and his Merry Men starred in a series of ballads as rebels fighting for the rights of Nottingham’s oppressed. 

Ever since, Robin Hood has appeared in all forms with writers, artists and eventually filmmakers telling stories featuring the character, who has constantly proved to be timeless.

The silver screen has seen many incarnations of the character. The silent era had Douglas Fairbanks and his swashbuckling ways; more swash and buckle came courtesy of Errol Flynn – Robin Hood becoming one of the actor’s most popular characters.

Margaret Rutherford played the role in the only female version to date; Frank Sinatra brought his trademark suaveness to the role, while an elderly Sean Connery gave him gravitas.

Kevin Costner played Robin Hood at the height of the actor’s popularity and John Cleese and Cary Elwes gave him a comic bent.

This latest version of Robin Hood is one for our times. The chance to bring back the character to the big screen with a new take on his roots, as he reluctantly becomes a her, were aspects of his story that appealed to producers Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson of DiCaprio’s Appian Way productions.

“We were intrigued by the script’s originality and fresh take on timeless themes, which fits very well with what we do at our company,” Davisson says.

“This is a complex Robin Hood. The same way that Bruce Wayne didn’t seek to be a hero, but became one because Gotham City needed a Batman, Robin doesn’t set out to be ‘Robin Hood’, but Nottingham needs him to be.”

Director Otto Bathurst, known for his work on TV, especially gangster drama Peaky Blinders and a stint on Black Mirror, was keen to go contrary to expectations.

There is nothing period or traditional about this movie and that’s what drew me in

“To me Robin Hood had the makings of an utterly contemporary and relevant story,” he elaborates. “Here’s a guy who seemingly has the perfect and comfortable life and goes off to war, full of ideals, beliefs and passion, but then his eyes are opened to the corruption and evil of the people who are running the world – and it breaks him. It dissolves his faith in his nation and his religion and leaves him disillusioned. We see Robin as a hero, but I wanted to see why and how he became this legend, what it is that burns inside of him and what inspires him to set out to fight with such commitment to the truth.”

Rising star Taron Egerton heads up a dynamic cast that includes Jamie Foxx as Robin’s friend and ally John, and Eve Hewson as love interest, Marian. 

This incarnation sees Robin as a thoroughly modern shadow warrior. He may have been born into privilege as Lord of Loxley, but now he returns from war a haunted veteran who has lost everything. With the help of an equally war-scarred Moor John, Robin adopts a new alter-ego: as the hooded avenger who strikes at the powerful seeking justice for the people.

 “There is nothing period or traditional about this movie and that’s what drew me in, because it’s not the Robin Hood we’ve all seen before,” says Egerton. “Our wish was to go beyond that and create something that feels very contemporary. The film we made zips along at an incredible pace and is so entertaining. There’s a cool buddy relationship, an element of romance and lots of death-defying action sequences.”

Foxx, whose John is a razor-tongued rival-turned-mentor to Robin, adds: “Otto and Leonardo had a vision of Robin Hood that’s a fresh take on the story. The action, the characters and even the costumes all have just a dope twist to them. This Robin Hood is its own animal that takes you somewhere unexpected.”

For her part, Eve Hewson says that the story hit on many levels. “This movie is a bromance. It’s a love story. It’s a heist movie,” she muses. “There’s something for everybody in this film, and our hope was to bring out everything that Robin Hood fans have been longing for, but also to attract a new generation of young people who’ve grown up on superhero movies and video games. We set out to make Robin Hood a more badass kind of a character for today.”

Robin Hood is written by Ben Chandler and David James Kelly and also stars Ben Mendelsohn, Tim Minchin and Jamie Dornan.

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