Thursday, January 17, 2013
The Genius of the Sheriff of Nottingham
Robin Hood:Prince of Thieves came out in 1991 and starred Kevin Costner. It was a fun interpretation of the Robin Hood story and had great reviews and earned lots of money. It cast the popular Kevin Costner with Morgan Freeman as his wise Obi Wan Kenobi companion. Bryan Adams had a hit song "Everything I Do, I Do For You" that was over played on early nineties radio. As I was always obsessed with Medieval History I fell in love with this movie despite inaccuracies. I was 16 when I first saw it around 1992. The problem with this movie was that I fell in love with the Sheriff of Nottingham, the nasty bad guy and thought Kevin Costner's Robin Hood was a "dork". That is what happens when someone is a bad actor and this movie showed how weak Costner's acting was compared to his supporting cast and his villain, Alan Rickman.
Alan Rickman "hammed" it up in this film and the audience could tell he was enjoying his role as the villain. Every line, no matter how vile, sounded cool coming out of his mouth. Alan Rickman has a talent for playing villains and shady characters. He also played the villain Hans Gruber in Die Hard and Severus Snape in Harry Potter. He is a classically trained Shakespearean actor and even makes tea time epic.
Yes, this is Alan Rickman starring in Epic Tea Time and I did watch all 7 minutes of this awesomeness. If he can make tea time epic it would be easy for him to act circles around Kevin Costner and steal every scene he was in. (as I wrote before even Hadrian's wall stole the scene from Kevin Costner!)
That is what I didn't understand about Robin Hood:Prince of Thieves. The star was the weakest actor of the film, well maybe except for Christian Slater. I understand Christian Slater and Kevin Costner were put in the film to make it more mainstream. At the same time maybe they shouldn't have cast top British actors (even Brian Blessed for goodness sake!) to support Costner which only made his American accent stand out even more. I was even cheering for the Celts to kill Robin Hood!
I read that Alan Rickman, who at first was resistant to take the stereotypical role of the British bad guy, agreed to play the Sheriff of Nottingham if he was allowed to play the role anyway he wanted. So the director, Kevin Reynolds, let Rickman go free and we have some of the most famous one liners uttered by a villain like "Because it's DULL you twit, it will HURT MORE!!!!" or "Do you MIND Locksley. . . we've just been married!" or "CANCEL CHRISTMAS!!!!"
It is no surprise that Alan Rickman was voted AFI's 46th greatest villain ever!
I think without Rickman's performance, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves would have been another Waterworld, a forgotten 1990's film. Alan Rickman's hammy performance saved the film and has made it a classic.