Q&A: Taron Egerton on taking on the iconic role of the hooded crusader in new Robin Hood flick

Taron Egerton in a scene from Robin Hood. (Empire Entertainment)
Taron Egerton in a scene from Robin Hood. (Empire Entertainment)

Cape Town – The literary tale of Robin Hood makes a comeback to the big screen in this modern retelling of the hooded crusaders epic adventures. 

Directed by Otto Bathurst, Robin Hood is a re-imagining of the classic tale of Robin of Loxley – played by British star Taron Egerton.

Taron, who was nominated for a Rising Star BAFTA in 2016, is perhaps best-known to audiences for playing the role of Eggsy in the Kingsman movies. Some of his other recent credits include Eddie the Eagle, Sing, and Legend. He’ll next be seen playing Elton John in the fantasy musical, Rocketman.

In this quick Q&A the 29-year-old talks about the taking on the iconic role and what he enjoyed most about transforming into the character. 

Was the story of Robin Hood one that you loved as a kid? 

Yes, I watched the movie with the Disney Fox and also the Kevin Costner version. Like a lot of kids, I'd run around with a bow and arrow pretending to be Robin Hood. Although, when they asked me to do it, I did think twice, only because I felt like there'd been a lot of versions, and one was especially recent. It really came down to Otto's vision for it. He made it feel exciting and fresh and something that could be really cool.

Why do you think that this story is so timeless?

There's always a widening wealth gap and there are always self-serving people in power. I think that is just humanity and that's just the nature of people. The story is timeless because it's always relevant for that reason.

Even though the film is a really entertaining and fun action more, there are a lot of other layers to the story that make it feel fresh and relevant to the world we’re living in today. Was that something that attracted you to this script? 

Yes, I think Otto's a very intellectual and thoughtful guy. He's not someone who is going to want to make something mindless. I think as much as possible, we wanted to infuse it with real humanity and weight and thought. I'm not actually someone who's a big action movie guy and I still can't believe that I'm the action kid. It's mad, really. To be honest, these films always need to have some other dimension to it for me to become interested.

What was it about this take on Robin that made you want to play this character?

This iteration of the character was particularly interesting to me. This is a young guy who is pretty damaged and is arguably suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. He's very vulnerable, or at least that's certainly how I tried to make him. The appeal of it was to try to create a three-dimensional Robin, rather than the Robin Hood of legend who's kind of a thigh slapping symbol of heroic awesomeness. This is someone who is damaged and real. Early on, he is pretty unhappy actually, but he grows throughout the film.

You went through some pretty intense physical training for the role including mastering the art of archery. What was that experience like for you and is it a skill that you’d like to keep? 

I haven't done it since we shot the film, but I did enjoy it and I did get quite into it. I just thought the style we employed in the film, which was taught to me by a gentleman named Lars Anderson, was really so cool. When you first watch him doing it on YouTube, you don't question it because it's so fast. I found that quite intriguing and captivating, and I wanted to learn. I spent a lot of time working on it and I think it looks really cinematic. It's one of the linchpins in the movie because it's his power. This is a super hero movie and that is his super power.

At the heart of this story is the friendship between Robin and John (Jamie Foxx). You and Jamie have great chemistry together on screen. Had you met before? What did you enjoy most about working with him? 

We worked closely together for quite a while so I got to know him a bit. I always felt instinctively that our styles as actors would complement each other. He's very charismatic, and I think there's a bit of crossover. We'd both rather be the centre of attention and we're both cheeky chappies, so there are similarities, but there are also great differences between us. We're both from fairly humble beginnings, but obviously he's a black guy from Texas, and I'm a white kid from Aberystwyth, Wales. Culturally, we're from different worlds, but we get on well. 

I've got a real soft spot for him. Working with Jamie was honestly one of the big appeals of this project. I've done the buddy thing before and I do enjoy it, but it's also really fun being strapped to an A-lister. I mean that sincerely as well. It's very comforting and provides you with a sense of security. He's just such a massive talent in so many different ways. To get the opportunity to work so closely with him has been amazing. He's brilliant in the movie and he looks incredible. I think the dynamic really works.

Audiences might not expect that there is also this wonderful sense of humour and levity threaded throughout the film. 

It's inherently a pretty heavy story, so I wanted it to have a reality to it and for the character to be a fully-formed person and not be perfect. In the opening sequence, I was very conscious of wanting it to look like he's not quite coping. So, because it has this kind of earthy, dark thing going on, the flip side of that is that you need that levity. You need a lightness to it and you need some fun. Jamie's very funny, and I hope I have my moments. It's what lifts the film and it's what gives it balance, because it's inherently a bleak story.

What do you think audiences will surprised by if they go into this movie thinking they’ve seen Robin Hood before? 

I think it just doesn't feel very Robin Hood-y. It feels like a superhero origin story with some real grit. That's what we set out to make.

Robin Hood is currently showing in SA cinemas. 

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