Moviegoing in O-Town — posted by otownrog on May, 13 2010 8:36 AM
His work as the Sheriff of Nottingham has led to at least one phone call, according to the terrific British character actor and sometime leading man Matthew Macfadyen. He’s about to don the big French boots and pick up the sword as one of The Three Musketeers.
“Actually, I’ve done a bit of swordfighting in my time, even though I don’t do much of that in Robin Hood,” he told me from Cannes. “And I’ve worn my share of really big boots!
But those first reports that say I’m playing Aramis of the Musketeers? Wrong. Unless I looked at the contract wrong. I’m to be Athos.”
My interview with him about the trials and tribulations of signing on to play a foil to Robin Hood is below the page break.
The new Ridley Scott/Russell Crowe version of Robin Hood is pretty far removed from a traditional take on the woodlands outlaw of English lore. That appears to have puzzled or annoyed the world’s movie critics, who are split on this film. At least one has described it as having “one muddy boot in history and the other in fantasy” (New York Daily News).
Where’s the swashbuckle, some are asking? Why only a “token” presence for the Sheriff of Nottingham (London’s Daily Mail)?
If critics or moviegoers are surprised by this “origins of the legend” prequel, imagine Matthew Macfadyen, the British actor who signed to play that sheriff with visions of Basil Rathbone (1938) — or at least Alan Rickman (1991) — dancing through his head.
“When my agent rang me, the film was titled Nottingham, and he said ‘They’re interested in you for the sheriff,’ ” says Macfadyen, a veteran of British stage, TV and films such Frost/Nixon, Pride & Prejudice and the original version of Death at a Funeral. “I got quite excited. Well, over-excited. And then I smelt a rat. ‘This is too good to be true.’
“Then the script came, and it was only a few scenes. I thought, ‘Well, still, it’ll just take a few days and it’s Ridley, for God’s sake. And there’s this wonderful death scene. I get stabbed by Cate Blanchett!’
“And then, as in all these big movies, they send more pages and the script changes. NOW, I’m killed by Mark Strong [Sir Godfrey, the film’s villain].
“Then another script, and the title has changed to Robin Hood, and I’m sort of murdered by a thug. The deaths got worse and worse the more they rewrote it!”
What’s an actor to do, especially one who’s already dealt with the ghosts of iconic performances of the past. His Mr. Darcy in Pride & Prejudice was, of course, measured against Colin Firth’s definitive turn in that role.
“I didn’t have much to do, by this stage,” says Macfadyen, 35. “So I thought I’d be quite hammy and big. But Ridley LIKED that. So he kept me alive! I got an extra scene or two and he doesn’t kill me off at all!”
“Disappointed? I was and I wasn’t. Ridley’s this wise old bird of a director and it was great fun. My sheriff is a very far-distant cousin of Alan Rickman’s sheriff, because he is, well, an idiot, a small-town bureaucrat who is after the money and wants to get into Maid Marion’s knickers.”
And since the film is about how Robin Hood became Robin Hood, there’s always the possibility of sequels.
“Sequels? Really? You’re right. Oh yes, I love playing this idiot!”
Matthew and his wife, actress Keeley Hawes, attended the screening of Robin Hood in cannes on may 12th:
1 & 2
I haven't seen Robin Hood, but I will b/c of him and Cate. Also, just because...