BEVERLY HILLS, California — Over the weekend, Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe made major waves when they spoke with MTV News and revealed an unusual plan of attack for their upcoming Robin Hood film "Nottingham." After a lengthy search for a Robin to play opposite the Oscar winner's Sheriff of Nottingham, Scott had a new answer for the question of who will play the green-clad good guy.
"It's Russell Crowe," Scott insisted. "He's playing both."
When we brought the statement to Crowe, the Australian smiled and said of his constant collaborator, "He talks too much."
In the days since, their comments have been interpreted to mean everything from Crowe doing a "Klumps"-esque performance opposite himself, to the theory that both Robin and the Sheriff will be the same person caught up in a "Fight Club"-like battle between two split personalities. Now, a fan site devoted to the actor claims to have an e-mail from him shooting down both theories, while other movie sites are insisting the split-personality angle is indeed the plan.
For the straight story, and for more about "Nottingham," where better to go than the five-time collaborators ("Gladiator," "American Gangster," etc.) themselves?
"I'm doing Robin Hood next with Russell. That's what actors like to do — dress up, change their persona and invent 20 voices," Scott told us about his plans for the movie, adding that the Robin/Sheriff plan is too complex to explain in an interview. "I haven't got long enough to tell you. ... It adjusts, it changes. It would take me more than 10 minutes to tell you. ... Just a good old clever adjustment of characters. One becomes the other. It changes, changes."
As for the film's plot, Scott explained: "The arena is England in the time of Richard Coeur de Lion [the Lionhearted]. Richard the second — and the father, Richard Coeur de Lion — have both gone off to the Holy Wars and have bankrupted the country for the Holy Wars. On their way back, Richard Coeur de Lion dies and the country is handed over to his brother, Sir John, who increases taxation."
Discussing the other actors in the film, the veteran director shot down rumors of household names like William Hurt and Saoirse Ronan being in the flick. "Everyone I've cast you probably don't know, because I like to look for new faces and give people new opportunities," he said. "If I have an actor like Russell, I can start looking around to see who's fresh."
Scott did reveal, however, that he and Crowe will reunite with the breakout actor of their upcoming film "Body of Lies," a charismatic English star who also appears in next month's "RocknRolla." "Mark Strong, who's in this movie [will be in 'Nottingham']."
Talk to Crowe, however, and he seems far less confident about Scott's plans to put the movie together as intended. "We'll see," the superstar said cautiously. "We'll see if we do it."
According to Crowe, in fact, there's still a chance he might not even be in the flick. "The one thing that's important to me is that in the 100-year tradition of Robin Hood in the cinema, you certainly don't want to make the second-best one," he grinned. "So if we're not in the situation where we're going to make the best one, I'm not really interested."
Reflecting on the background of the English folktale, he added: "There's 1,000 years of storytelling involved with Robin Hood, from the original ballads to the legend, the mythology, the political tool of Robin Hood and how it was used, depending on which judge was in favor at the time. That mythology has somehow got to be encapsulated the next time you tell the story on film.
"So I want to do it, but I don't want to do it at all costs," Crowe cautioned. "I want to do it if it's going to be a great film."
Scott sounds far more convinced that the movie will become a reality with Crowe as both leads, and said he was eager to overcome the Disney stereotypes that most Americans associate with the tale of the rebellious robber who steals from the rich and gives to the poor.
"Oh, yes," he said when asked if Friar Tuck was in the movie. "We'll have him being knocked off the block, Little John, all that."
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