Robin Hood is the latest adaptation of the classic British folk tale with Taron Egerton in the titular role opposite Jamie Foxx as a black Muslim version of Little John.
However, according to Egerton, the final cut of the movie left out a lot of the racial tension he and Foxx brought to the table during the shoot.
“I never really know how much of that I’m allowed to say,” the actor explains to Yahoo Movies UK, “but the one thing that I do think has gone a bit, that I thought was quite interesting, there was a bit of racial tension between Robin and John early on that I think was lost a bit.”
In this version (directed by Peaky Blinders’ Otto Bathurst), Robin and John (Yaḥyā in Arabic) first meet on the battlefield as the Muslims and Christians fight during the Crusades.
“If you’d been in Syria fighting these native people for so long there would be,” Egerton continued. “In the way he calls me ‘English’ in the film, you know, there was probably something of my being more judgemental of him purely based on… because I’m so set in the mindset of thinking his people are ungodly.
“I think something of that went and I slightly mourned that when I saw it but by and large, it’s remained true to what we set out to do.
“I think anything that heightens tension and creates more conflict is good in a film, for me, but that was slightly lost along the process of the edit. But, you know, it’s not something I’m losing sleep over,” he added.
A Muslim character never featured in the original Robin Hood tale though since the 1980s one has often been added as a sidekick to the hero. It began with Nasir (Mark Ryan) who appeared in the ITV’s 1984 series Robin of Sherwood, then Morgan Freeman played Azeem in 1991’s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
The likelihood that an Arab and Englishman would have become pals after fighting opposite each other during the Crusades seems slim but this movie is not trying to score points for historical accuracy – there are plenty of other Robin Hood films that attempt that.
For Egerton, he wanted to make a movie that showed the more down-to-earth lad behind the legend.
“I think a lot of the Robin Hoods that have come before are rather ‘Robin Hoody,’ you know, there’s no messing, it’s Robin Hood,” he says. “I wanted to try and create a performance that it was the man behind the myth, that was a bit more rooted, and pedestrian, and three-dimensional, just a bit more of a boy.”
If anything, his version of the folk hero has more of a superhero sensibility like that of DC’s Green Arrow in that he has a dual identity: the rich Lord of Locksley and the outlaw Hood.
“I think it was always intended that when we set out to make this film is that you would take a very established old story and tell that story in a what that appeals to a superhero audience,” Egerton says.
Any fans of Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye will certainly find the actor’s performance appealing as the bow and arrow is used to high octane effect in the film. Egerton says he did a lot of archery training for the role, though he didn’t actually fire many arrows on film.
He also resisted from making sound effects during these scenes as he pretended to let dozens of arrows fly through the air and take out bad guys.
“I kept sound effects to a minimum,” he explains, “I think it’s because the bow makes a noise when you fire it, makes a sort of rubbery ping, that I didn’t feel the need. The problem is I pout when I’m concentrating so that was the thing I was trying to curb.
“I didn’t do it very well.”
Robin Hood is out in cinemas on 21 November