The biopic is an age-old Hollywood tradition. Dating back to at least legendary French director Georges Méliès’ 1899 version of Joan of Arc, the glammed-up spectacle of a famous person’s life story has become a staple of movie genres. Within that genre is a more self-absorbed sub-genre: the life of a movie star.
Or at least, a celebrity connected to Hollywood. The past few years have seen Sir Anthony Hopkins take on the role of the great Hitchcock, Nicole Kidman played Grace Kelly in Grace of Monaco, and now Oscar-winner Kevin Kline will portray perhaps the most iconic action star of the Golden Age of cinema Errol Flynn, in The Last of Robin Hood.
Based on a true story, the film’s trailer (above) follows the 50-year-old Flynn – his time as a major star behind him – as he takes up with then-17-year old starlet Beverly Aadland (Dakota Fanning) and attempts to help along her career, a strategy which her mother (Susan Sarandon) initially supports. We should probably expect the arrangement to end in tears, however, since most of them do.
Given how much Hollywood loves movies about itself, it’s a bit of a wonder to realize that The Last of Robin Hood is the first proper Errol Flynn biopic. The star, who was one of the first (and arguably best) to play the titular rogue of Sherwood Forest in 1938’s The Adventures of Robin Hood (co-directed by Casablanca‘s Michael Curtiz), has been previously portrayed by Jude Law in Martin Scorcese’s Howard Hughes biopic The Aviator, and the late Peter O’Toole played a version of Flynn in My Favorite Year.
It may seem odd to see Kevin Kline turn in a performance as an aging swashbuckler, but he not only bears a striking resemblance to Errol Flynn, but played Flynn’s action star precursor, Douglas Fairbanks (who also played Robin Hood) opposite Robert Downey, Jr. in Chaplin.
While the Lifetime Films shingle and the fact that writer-directors Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland’s last feature credit was the low-profile (but overall well-received) Quinceañera may give audiences pause, it appears that The Last of Robin Hood may not flinch from two big scandals of the late, great Flynn’s twilight years: the rumors of a sexual relationship between he and Aadland lost them the lead roles in Stanley Kubrick’s Lolita, and that Aadland was with him when he died at age 50 of a heart attack.
While the unavoidable ick factor may turn some people, early film festival reviews have been positive. Will the film shed some new light on the great Flynn, or will it go the way of My Week with Marilyn, focusing on the minor players and keep the star a mystery?
The Last of Robin Hood is slated to reach U.S. theaters on August 29th, 2014.