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).