From Errol Flynn to Disney, cinema has long been fascinated with the legend of Robin Hood. In 1991 he was played by box office superstar Kevin Costner, in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, who transformed the famous outlaw of Sherwood Forest into a movie icon fit for the 1990s.
This grand, swashbuckling adventure in the classic tradition was a huge hit, suggesting audiences will never tire of the tale. To celebrate the release of the film in an all-new UHD 4K restoration, here’s a look at the various actors who set audiences a quiver playing the beloved folklore hero through the decades.
The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938)
For many Errol Flynn was the quintessential Robin Hood – a dashing, devilish rogue. In this lavish Hollywood classic, he starred alongside Olivia de Havilland as Maid Marian, Basil Rathbone as Sir Guy of Gisbourne, and Melville Cooper as the High Sheriff of Nottingham, and Claude Rains as Prince John. Flynn is simply irresistible as a man who thumbs his nose as authority, calmly crashing Prince John’s banquet, cooly declaring him guilty of treason, then escaping after fighting off numerous guards.
Hood fact: James Cagney (White Heat) was originally cast in the lead role
The Sword of Sherwood Forest (1960)
Hammer Films promised ‘New thrills!’ with their film follow-up to the TV series The Adventures of Robin Hood, with Richard Greene reprising his role as Robin Hood, and the legendary Hammer regular Peter Cushing as the dastardly Sheriff of Nottingham. And keep your eyes peeled for a dubbed Oliver Reed.
Hood fact: Sherwood Forest was recreated in Ireland for the film
Robin Hood (1973)
Long before George Clooney voiced The Fantastic Mr Fox, actor Brian Bedford played another charismatic, silver-tongued fox, in the guise of Robin Hood in Walt Disney’s wonderful animal-led animated comedy adventure. Peter Ustinov plays Prince John, as a lion, Pat Buttram is the Sheriff of Nottingham, a wolf, and who can forget Terry Thomas as ‘Sir Hiss’, a snake!
Hood fact: The song ‘Love’ in the film was nominated for an Oscar and a Grammy
Robin and Marian (1976)
Sean Connery is an ageing Robin Hood, Audrey Hepburn (in her first film for nearly a decade) as Maid Marian, and the superb Robert Shaw (Jaws) the Sheriff of Nottingham in this marvellous romantic adventure, directed by Richard Lester (The Three Musketeers) that sees Robin attempting to wood Marian so they can settle down for a quiet life – but he doesn’t reckon on the Sheriff’s evil ways.
Hood fact: In this version of Robin Hood, Spain doubled for Nottinghamshire
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)
Robin of Locksley (Kevin Costner, Waterworld) returns from the Crusades to find his father dead and vows revenge. With his Moorish companion Azeem (Morgan Freeman, Unforgiven), he joins a band of peasant rebels to do battle against the wicked Sheriff of Nottingham (the brilliant Alan Rickman, Die Hard) and win the hand of the fair Maid Marian (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, The Abyss), cousin of the absent King of England. The film made nearly $400 million at the box office, and spawned a massive hit with the chart-topping Bryan Adams theme tune – looks like robbing from the rich to give to the poor never goes out of fashion.
Hood fact: Sean Connery, Robin Hood in Robin and Marian, makes an appearance as King Richard
Robin Hood (2010)
Russell Crowe donned the tights for Ridley Scott’s lavish epic that hoped to recreate the cinematic magic of Gladiator. Here, Cate Blanchett (Nightmare Alley) plays Marion, Matthew Macfayden (Succession) is suitably wicked as the Sheriff, and Mark Addy (The Full Monty) is outstanding as Friar Tuck.
Hood fact: Although the film made over $300million, it wasn’t enough to warrant the planned sequel
Robin Hood (2018)
Hot young star Taron Egerton (Kingsman) stars in this slick, star-studded retelling, directed by Otto Bathurst (Peaky Blinders), and featuring Jamie Foxx, Jamie Dornan, F.Murray Abraham, and Ben Mendelsohn in a role he was born to play – the Sheriff of Nottingham.
Hood fact: The cast were taught archery by Danish YouTuber Lars Andersen, who is able to shoot 10 arrows in just under 5 seconds. Beat that Robin!
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