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Cate Blanchett is the lady!

Robin Hood
16 September 2010

Oscar® winner Russell Crowe stars as the legendary figure known by generations as “Robin Hood,” whose exploits have endured in popular mythology and ignited the imagination of those who share his spirit of adventure and righteousness. In 13th century England, Robin and his band of marauders confront corruption in a local village and lead an uprising against the crown that will forever alter the balance of world power. And whether thief or hero, one man from humble beginnings will become an eternal symbol of freedom for his people.
Robin Hood chronicles the life of an expert archer, previously interested only in self-preservation, from his service in King Richard’s army against the French. Upon Richard’s death, Robin travels to Nottingham, a town suffering from the corruption of a despotic sheriff and crippling taxation, where he falls for the spirited widow Lady Marion (Oscar® winner Cate Blanchett), a woman skeptical of the identity and motivations of this crusader from the forest. Hoping to earn the hand of Maid Marion and salvage the village, Robin assembles a gang whose lethal mercenary skills are matched only by its appetite for life. Together, they begin preying on the indulgent upper class to correct injustices under the sheriff.
With their country weakened from decades of war, embattled from the ineffective rule of the new king and vulnerable to insurgencies from within and threats from afar, Robin and his men heed a call to ever greater adventure. This unlikeliest of heroes and his allies set off to protect their country from slipping into bloody civil war and return glory to England once more.

The Oscar winning actress plays the feisty Lady Marion Loxley, a woman who will defend her home and fight for her family, opposite Crowe as Robin Longstride, a battle hardened archer who returns to 12th century England to find a country on the brink of civil war.



Blanchett brings Marion vividly to life and clearly enjoyed the adventure that was making a modern day epic.

“It was utterly surprising,” she smiles. “You know when you are about to work with Ridley and Russell that there’s going to be a lot of testosterone on set and so you brace yourself but they were incredibly fine, detailed, welcoming and good humoured.

“I expected it to be more heavy going than it was but it was the most glorious summer. The weather in England was superb, there’s nothing like a wonderful English summer day and we were filming in some of the most beautiful parts of the country, like Windsor Great Park. Then, Russell brought along this really fantastic band of Merry Men who kept everyone entertained, including my children.”

Blanchett joined Scott, her fellow cast members – including Scott Grimes, Kevin Durand and Alan Doyle who play Robin’s Band of Brothers plus the crew on location in England to make what the director describes as a “re-imagining” of one of the most enduring myths of English folklore. “It couldn’t be timelier”, she says.

“I grew up with Errol Flynn playing Robin Hood and now being a mother of three boys my children have been watching the BBC television version” she says.

“They’ve also seen the one with foxes, the animated Disney version (Robin Hood, 1973). There are many versions, one for every generation and you can ask ‘well, why tell this story now? But if you look at the current climate and how we all feel the world is so bad and so corrupt and we feel so powerless within it, I think we are all looking towards an outsider, a hero, to come and save the day and that’s Robin Hood.”

She also believes casting Crowe – a fellow Australian – to play the most famous outlaw of all time is a perfect match. Flynn, she notes, was also Australian and there’s something in the national psyche that makes an Aussie outlaw a perfect match for the man who robs from the rich to give to the poor.

“It’s interesting that two Australians have played the role, when I think about Robin Hood, before Russell, I think about Errol Flynn as being Robin Hood.

“I think there’s an outsider’s perspective from us Antipodeans – we understand the outlaw’s perspective maybe inherently and deeply and Russell certainly does.



“He’s very outside the norm and is often getting into trouble, as a figure, but then he’s also got an incredibly strong ability to access really deep and soulful emotions.

“This is not an inconsequential Robin Hood, it’s a really soul searching Robin Hood that he’s created. After this film, I think you’ll remember Errol Flynn and you’ll remember Russell.”

Robin Hood is Scott and Crowe’s fifth film together. Their professional collaboration started with the blockbuster hit Gladiator and continued with A Good Year, American Gangster and Body of Lies. The director and actor have a combative working relationship, trading ideas and discussing how to approach a scene.

“Russell and Ridley together are a bit like George and Martha,” she laughs, referring to the cartoon hippos, best friends who argue a lot. “They argue, they love one another deeply, they respect one another like nobody’s business and they bring out the best in one another and that’s why they keep working together.

“And they are an amazing duo to watch – one talks and the other one listens, they argue and then they get down and do it and it’s always about making things better.”

In previous versions of Robin Hood the Marion character has been little more than a damsel in distress. In Scott’s film, she’s a woman who has had to struggle to keep her estate afloat while the husband she barely knew was away at war. She first meets Robin when he travels to Nottingham to tell her that her husband has been slain.

“Ridley wanted Marion to be an equal match for Robin, someone who could give Russell a run for his money. So I hope I’ve done that. My main thing was that I wanted to work with them both and I would have done anything that Ridley asked me to.”

“I remember all of those beautiful pre-Raphaelite images of women like Marion in the medieval period but I don’t really remember Marion’s function in the story apart from being rescued or to look exquisitely beautiful and I’m neither one in this film (laughs). I’m quite dirty and of the Earth. I think there’s probably a healthy dose of Ridley’s own personality in Marion.”

Indeed, Marion is a fighter and is right at the heart of the action throughout the story, for Blanchett that meant learning how to fire a bow and arrow, brandish a sword and tackle several scenes on horseback, including a stunning hi-octane sequence at the end of the film where Robin and his men are defending an English beach – in reality filmed in Pembrokeshire in Wales – from the invading French.

“Wales is an exquisitely beautiful part of the UK and naively I thought ‘well, why is New South Wales in Australia called that?’ I went to Wales and saw these beaches and thought ‘of course…’ because there’s a real similarity there. “But the beach we shot on was quite dangerous actually, quite beautiful but it’s incredibly tidal. The tide was moving and we had to wait for a certain time of day to shoot as the tide would move five or six metres every minute or two.”

“Ridley had an incredible set up with about 40 boats, five million extras and horses and so we would get a take and then the whole thing would have to move five or six metres up the beach and start again.”

“It was really difficult, but you should see Ridley in those situations. He’s like a pig in mud, he comes alive. He is very fine and detailed in terms of his direction of performance but he is able to direct action like nobody else. He’s incredible.”

Blanchett’s very first scene involved a spectacular shot where Marion fires a flaming arrow at a band of robbers who are stealing grain from her farm.

“Oh my goodness, the fiery arrow was my first night on set,” she smiles. “People have asked me ‘well, what was your preparation?’ but really I got on set and Ridley said ‘I want you to fire this arrow…’ I had 45 minutes to learn it and when I arrived ready to do the close up he said ‘oh, it’s going to be alight…’ and so then I suddenly had to fire a flaming arrow. My eight year old son was there and I couldn’t lose face in front of him so I really focused and fortunately it left the bow and then hit a light and exploded so it was all very dramatic. I did it once but I’m not sure I could have done it again!”

“I made a western (The Missing) with Ron Howard where I was riding every day. When I started that film I was bouncing all around in the saddle but as I rode every day I got better. I’m not the horseman that Russell is and I’m riding film horses but I absolutely love it. I do love being on a horse.”

Working with Scott was a long held ambition and he didn’t disappoint. Blanchett was impressed at the director’s eye for detail whilst still keeping track of a huge production that involved hundreds of extras and the complex logistics of filming huge action scenes.

“I’ve never been on a film this big,” she notes. “I was a part of the Indiana Jones film and that was extraordinary and huge but it was a very different ambition.

“I haven’t done that many big films and I think I’m glad that I haven’t to this point in my career because I think if I’d done them any earlier I’d have been dwarfed by them. There is so much technology, action, colour and movement that I think I’d have got lost if it was the second or third film I’d made, whereas I think now I have a greater sense of how I can be part of it. But I’m still awed by it all and by filmmakers like Ridley who are able to focus on minute details in the frame, be really engaged in the performances and know that the performances are what carry the action and make people connect to the story. You watch him direct the action and he is just extraordinary, and so good humoured.”

Robin Hood is an historical epic, set at the end of the 12th century, but for Blanchett the film is also very relevant to a modern audience.

“It was epic in its ambitions. Not only an epic story but epically rendered,” she says. “From my perspective, I suppose when you go back in time to tell a story you want it to be relevant. It deals with much of England being depleted by the taxation that was imposed ruthlessly by King John. I think the notion of being over taxed, not trusting the banking system, wanting someone to steal from the rich to give back to the poor and defend the great unwashed, as we all are, I think Robin Hood is a champion who people will really want to see again.”



Robin Hood Film Page | Cate Blanchett Profile

Robin Hood is released in on DVD and Blu-ray on 20th September 2010.