Alan Rickman

The Sheriff gently takes the intimidated girl’s hand, draws it to his mouth as if to kiss it…..bites down, making her scream.

London born Alan Rickman played the part of the evil Sheriff of Nottingham in the Morgan Creek production, Robin Hood Prince of Thieves (1991). He had already established himself with one of cinema’s most memorable bad-guy performances as the gang boss in the all-action film Die Hard (1989).

But this £50 million Robin Hood film was later described by its star, Kevin Costner as, “not a great professional experience.” Movie critics too, mainly panned this hugely expensive outing into Sherwood Forest, with lines like:

“What harm is the Robin Hood legend doing, that needs to be so rudely modernized!”

One of the highly contentious debates of the critics was Rickman’s unabashedly over the top performance as Robin of Locksley’s arch enemy. You either loved it or hated it. For me it was one of the very few highlights in a very lack-luster re-telling of the legend. Unlike the subtle villainy displayed by Peter Finch in Walt Disney’s Story of Robin Hood (1952) and Alan Wheatley, in TV’s Adventures of Robin Hood (1956-60), Rickman created a cartoonish, ‘scenery chewing’ Sheriff of Nottingham’ with dialogue like:

“I’m going to cut his heart out-with a spoon!” and “It’s amazing I’m sane!”

Alan Rickman’s completely over-the-top Sheriff of Nottingham seems to have been acknowledged and re-created by the Welsh actor and comedian Keith Allen, in his role as the arch villain in the recent BBC series of Robin Hood (2007).


Clement of the Glen said...

Alan Rickman
Sheriff of Nottingham
Robin Hood Prince of Thieves (1991)

Neil said...

Following your information on Perce Pearce, I have warmed to him in that he seems to have been quite a character and also a very kind man. He must have been very close to Walt Disney and was entrusted with Treasure Island (costing 1.8 million dollars to make in those days - a huge figure) and later The Story of Robin Hood with a budget of at least that, and the next two films. I have the impression that Rob Roy did not fare anything like as well at the Box Office. Perce Pearce then made the decision to live in England which is very nice to hear. Sadly he didn't live very long after these films. It is a pity because he must have had so much to offer. When he finished working for Walt Disney, I wonder if he did work for anyone else in the British Film Industry. Does anyone know?

Clement of the Glen said...

I shall do some more hunting to find out.

If anyone out there knows if Perce Pearce worked for the British Film Industry after leaving the Disney Organisation, please get in touch.

Neil said...

Alan Rickman's performance in this film was exactly as you say but it stole the film. I have heard it said that Kevin Costner vetoed some scenes where Alan Rickman completely outshone him - but that would not have been difficult to do. Costner's performance as Robin Hood was indeed 'lack lustre'. One thing struck me about this film was their use of real locations which Walt Disney realised wasn't on. It didnt work at all. It just showed the work of Peter Ellenshaw in creating the illusions and the wonderful studio sets by Carmen Dillon ensured a perfect mediaeval feel to the Walt Disney film.