They must have had a deal worked out. In the absence of Robin Hood director Ridley Scott, who was a no show in Cannes because of knee surgery, Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett were left holding the fort, explaining his movie for him at the press conference before the opening night premiere. The deal, by the sound of it, is that Crowe would do the explaining and Blanchett would play the movie star, looking dreamy (as always), and lightly flirting with her co-star. Crowe, a producer on the film, took charge, elaborating detail about the movie’s “version of history”— how “indolent egotist,” King John, is pressured into signing the first draft of the Magna Carta “and that to me is the fertile ground where a resistance fighter and rebel hero could rise up and apply that pressure. . .”
“With the love of a good woman,” Blanchett chips in.
Then Crowe made a crack about what trees in the forest are good for.
There were inevitable questions about retro-fitting the Robin Hood legend with politically correct contemporary references, notably an impassioned speech by Robin to Richard the Lionheart decrying a massacre of innocent Muslims by the crusaders. That made Crowe bristle, accusing the questioner of “making a grand assumption that people then had no empathy.” Touché. He went on to say that “there’s an element of Robin Hood lying in the heart of all of us.”
Then, asked what Robin Hood would be doing today, he said: “I’ve been asked this question a lot. Would Robin Hood’s aim be political? Would it be economic? Would he be looking at Wall Street and the huge sums of money that people would be patting themselves on the back with, and the sub-prime mortgage collapse and all that? Or would he be looking what you guys are do for a living and realize that the truth wealth lies in the dissemination of information. My theory would be, if RH was alive today, that he would be looking at the monopolization of media as the greatest enemy.”
Well, doesn’t that sound like fun—firing flaming arrows at Fox News.
Crowe said the history was just a point of entry. “You have to do enough – just enough accurate history to pique people’s curiosity,” he says. “The main shift that we made, if you want a revolutionary shift, is Richard the Lionheart rides in and we kill him in the first scene. That signals to anyone who’s a fan of previous Robin Hoods that it’s a different game.”
And later, when pushed about the ratio of historical fact to fiction, Russell basically threw in the towel: “Apart from the year and a couple of names, we made it all up.”
As for the prospect of a franchise, and a long-term commitment by him and Blanchett—that was my question to both of them—Crowe said, “Obviously there’s a bigger story to be told. There’s no grand planning. But if we do get the opportunity to do it again, with Ridley and Cate. . . I think the cool thing about the relationship between Robin and Marian is that there’s a very adult moment there. They come to each other slowly. And we still haven’t seen the love scene in the forest, the dappled light coming through the trees. . .”
Blanchett’s retort was drowned out by laughter. When I asked her about how far she would like to this merry woodland romance, she played coy: “I haven’t been asked.”