There is no shortage of big screen Robin Hood interpretations, the most recent of which being a 2010 effort directed by Ridley Scott and starring Russel Crowe. However, that hasn’t deterred Lionsgate from green-lighting the upcoming Robin Hood: Origins. The project, which will be directed by Otto Bathurst, is currently in pre-production and will offer a gritty take on the iconic thief in green tights.
The movie has already lined up its protagonist, with Taron Egerton, perhaps best known as Eggsy in Kingsman: The Secret Service, in the title role and has an impressive supporting cast that features Oscar-winner Jamie Foxx (The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Django Unchained) as Little John and Eve Hewson (Bridge Of Spies) as Maid Marion.
Now another name can be added to that list in the form of Fifty Shades Of Grey‘s Jamie Dornan. THR reports that Dornan is in talks to play another of Hood’s Merry Men: Will Scarlet. Whilst Scarlet’s character varies with each version of the Robin Hood story, he is traditionally depicted as younger and more flamboyant than his fellow Merry Men and is usually a keen fighter and loyal friend. Robin Hood: Origins will instead portray Will Scarlet as Maid Marion’s husband, who later becomes jealous at his wife’s eye for Robin.
In addition to the soon to be released Anthropoid, Robin Hood: Origins will be Dornan’s most high profile gig since landing the coveted role of Christian Grey and subsequently, all eyes will be on him to see whether he can shake the specter of such an (in)famous role. Dornan’s stint as Mr. Grey should set him up well for Will Scarlet’s jealous lover persona but given Fifty Shades less-than-spectacular reputation in the minds of many, the actor will have to work hard to convince viewers that he should be taken seriously outside of the Fifty Shades franchise. You only need to look at the fortunes of Robert Pattinson to see how a popular, yet critically derided, franchise can affect a talented actor’s career.
The news that Jamie Dornan’s version of Will Scarlet will be significantly different compared to traditional iterations is unlikely to inspire faith in the project. Whilst the necessity for a character as well-known and as thoroughly explored as Robin Hood to have an origin story in 2016 is highly contestable in itself, one thing fans generally react badly to is when movies make needless deviations from the source material. Early signs indicate Robin Hood: Origins will be taking more than a few narrative detours, for better or worse.
Whilst Dornan’s casting could go either way, there are still some strong names attached to the project. Such talent will be redundant, however, if audiences don’t get behind the concept of a Robin Hood origin story. There have been a glut of re-imaginings of classic stories in recent years with Cinderella, Snow White, The Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast all getting the remake treatment. Hollywood could be in danger of hitting saturation point, in that regard.
Robin Hood: Origins does not have an official release date yet.