In 2001, Ridley Scott was nominated for an Oscar, Golden Globe, BAFTA and DGA Award for Best Director for Gladiator, which starred Russell Crowe. Ten years later, Scott and Crowe have reunited to bring another epic-adventure to the screen.
This version of the legendary figure begins after the death of King Richard, when Robin travels to Nottingham, a town suffering from the corruption of a despot sheriff and crippling taxation. Hoping to salvage the village, Robin assembles a gang with lethal mercenary skills to protect their country from slipping into civil war.
Ridley Scott spoke of his working relationship with Russell Crowe, and his belief that Robin Hood was more than a myth, at the press conference for the movie
We’ve seen this story done many different ways, what was it about the story that drew you into it where you thought you could give it a different take?
The story I got didn’t draw me in, I didn’t like it, but I was asked to come into it by Russell and [producer] Brian Grazer, and reviewing what we had, we decided it was a page-one rewrite. The other [script] read a little bit like CSI meets Robin Hood, [but] they were trying to be original
I definitely believe Robin Hood existed. I believe he’s a real historical character [who has stayed] in our imagination and was written about so many times that I think he definitely existed. And therefore he justified having a real and truthful attempt at who he might have been and how he came about.
How have you made Robin Hood your own?
Everyone talks about Robin Hood robbing from the rich and giving to the poor, but we felt it was relevant to choose a point in medieval folklore when the environment is on the edge of starvation and neglected by the crown. The hierarchy is the enemy, and the everyman who will come against them is Robin Hood. Within that idea, we have not forgotten the expectation and the romanticism of the legend. Is there humor in this? Yes. Is there a lot of action? Yes.
What was the most challenging aspect?
How were we going to feed Marion into this? Where’s the love story going to begin? Because Marion was always perceived and done as a bit of a cliché and I wanted to give Marion a really strong position, a strong platform to be coming from. So she becomes more of a character resembling taming of the shrew. She is definitely reluctant to engage with another man at all, and she has no rights once her father-in-law dies, so she’ll lose everything, so she’s a woman who is in a very tenuous position when we pick up the story.
I liked the mutual respect between Robin and Marion, how much of an influence was it to bring in Cate Blanchett, who gives a strength and beauty to the role?
Well, Cate was a real catch. Because we started again almost from scratch, this part of the story hadn’t really figured and when you are writing something you’re actually feeling for good common solid ground to begin where you can come across this woman and say, ‘Ah, this is an interesting place for her to begin. A woman who is running her whole life and an estate, and this guy hasn’t even met her yet,’ so that started to promote the idea she had to be in her late thirties. Then I thought that Cate might not want to do it, because she doesn’t tend to do these things, I thought she may not want to go along with the fun of it, so Russell asked her and she said yes. They were both in Sydney at the same time.
How important is the familiarity that you now have with Russell in terms of building a team and facing the prospect of building this character?
I think it helps a lot because we tend to come to it literally as a team. I trust what he can do and I think he trusts what I can do. And we’re both incredibly organized which also helps. He’s a good listener. When I first met him, I thought, ‘He’s not really listening,’ but he was actually listening, distilling it, turning it over. He was very thoughtful and then came back with questions. I thought, ‘Well, that’s a really healthy relationship,’ and that’s how it has evolved.
How important is it to have a PG-13 to help open the story of Robin Hood to younger people?
I think it helps enormously, so I had to temper a little bit of the violence. It was a little bit of a struggle but we managed to get by. There’s not a lot of blood in this actually, you think there might be but there’s not.
What do you hope the audience will come out of the film feeling?
[To be] hugely entertained and not disappointed.