Interview: RICHARD ARMITAGE from ROBIN HOOD

Richard Armitage

Last week, Daemon’s TV spoke with RICHARD ARMITAGE, who plays Guy of Gisbourne, about the return of ROBIN HOOD for its second season on BBC America.

Richard Armitage talked about the evolution of his character in season two and his interesting infatuation with Marian, his favorite episode of the season, his new role on Spooks (MI-5 in the US), and much more.

Don’t forget to watch Robin Hood Saturdays at 9pm on BBC America.

And without further ado, enjoy the interview!

Daemon’s TV: What is it like to play a villain in “Robin Hood,” especially since it’s such a well known story?

Richard Armitage: You know what, I was pretty nervous about playng a villain at the start, because people are not going to necesserally like this character, and I’m going to be booed and hissed on the streets. But it’s just so much fun because the writers, I think they have a lot of fun planning all the bad things that these characters are going to get up to, and it’s actually a lot of fun doing it. It’s naughty and you get to sort of exercise all those elements that you can’t really do as a person, because it’s not civilized or polite or nice, so it’s actually really enjoyable to do it. (Laughs)

Have you actually been booed on the street?

RA: Well, it’s the little kids that point at you and then come and stick their tongues out. It’s brilliant, it’s my favorite reaction.

Were you fan orginally of “Robin Hood”?

RA: Yes, in the eighties, I mean there was a “Robin Hood” for every generation. The “Robin Hood” that we had was Michael Praed and I used to love it every Saturday night. I lived in the midlands as a child and my parents used to drive me up to the forest and we sort of played around. So it means a lot to me.

Would you have liked to play Robin Hood instead of Guy of Gisbourne?

RA: Well everyone wants to play Robin Hood, don’t they? I think I was the wrong side of 30 to play Robin Hood.

How were you first approached to play the part of Guy of Gisbourne?

RA: I originally was sent the script to look at the Sheriff and also Guy of Gisbourne. I went and read for both parts, and I think obviously I’m a bit young to play the Sheriff and Guy sort of sat quite well with me. I was really interested in the side of him which is sort of damaged and quite desperate, and then this sort of angry aspect of him I was quite interested in. I also read some scenes with Marian at the very beginning and I really liked his approach to wooing her. It was quite unconventional and a bit brutal, so that was something that really interested me.

Why do you think Guy of Gisbourne is so attracted to Marian?

RA: Well, I think in series one it was definitely that she was the most eligible woman in the area, the daughter of a Nobleman. She was also rumored to be betrothed to Robin Hood, and I think he wanted everything that Robin had, in terms of his reputation and his power, and the love of the people. And then he wanted her as well as a sort of decoration. But actually, through her he sort of found the human side of himself and she sort of made him into a man as opposed to a sort of a machine. And I think once someone’s done that to you, it becomes a bit of an obsession. The fact that she had this power over him he really couldn’t control, I think that it became irresistible. Those feelings, at the same time, are incredibly conflicting in himself, but I think he wanted to see where it ended as it were.

How is that going to evolve in Season 2?

RA: He becomes even more human. I mean she really gets under his skin. And so the great conflict between what he has to do in his work and in his relation with the Sheriff, which is probably the complete opposite direction of how he’s feeling as a man, and his love for her and the gentle side of him that she’s bringing out. So he’s trying to sort of hold it all in and not wreck himself up again, but she’s really pulling him out. At the same time, she sort of has an attraction to him in a strange way, but she also finds him very useful in her need to infiltrate the castle, so it’s quite an interesting, slightly odd relationship.

Do you think he has suspicions that Marian is a traitor?

RA: Yes, I think that’s there all the time. I think that she’s proved herself to be traitorous at the end of series one, so that thought is always hanging in his brain. But she manages to win him over time and time again. Kind of a fatal attraction, this sort of blind love that allows himself to be used by her. And he forgives her time and time again, and his worst fears are gradually coming to the surface throughout the whole series, in a culmination in episode 13 of possibly one of the worst things a man could ever do to the woman he loves. So it’s a really interesting journey.

What can we expect from Guy of Gisbourne this season?

RA: After being jilted at the altar at the end of series one, there’s a fire in him which is going to explode. So he’s much more wild and angry and he’s ready for it. He has sort of already been pried open by her, and so it’s almost like he’s got an open wound, which is the sort of seething blood, and so he’s trying all the time to contain it. Also his relationship with the Sheriffl is very much looked into. There’s a father son relationship which the Sheriff uses to his own advantage, knowing that Gisbourne really needs that kind of paternal approval.

How is the part of Guy of Gisbourne different from other parts you have played in the past?

RA: I think this is the first time that I’ve ever played one that’s so outwardly aggressive, angry, brutal, and violent. It’s the most violent role I’ve ever played. If this were to be played as an adult show, the violence would be extreme. But at the same time there’s this conflict of the man inside, and I think those two extremes have something, which I’ve not quite explored before. It’s really interesting because sometimes you find yourself doing something, which you feel goes against character, but it’s actually just one side of the character, which is being allowed to exist rather than all of it in the same time. I think that’s kind of a human thing, you know.

Yes, it’s hard to totally hate him.

RA: Yes, I think when you see somebody that is damaged like that, I thought I had to find that side of him in order to like him, in order to play him, because it was important to me to sort of find that aspect of him.

Do you do your own stunts?

RA: We really push to do as much as we can. Obviously some elements of the riding, when they’re riding extremely fast through trees, they won’t let us do that because it’s just too dangerous but we do all of the fighting ourselves. I know Jonas (Armstong) certainly does all the wire work and all the kind of tricks himself. The more we can do the more exhilirating it is. Actually, it’s one of the best bits of the job. That’s why we all enjoy ourselves so much. It’s a dream job in that respect.

What’s your favorite episode is season 2?

RA: Well I’ve got two actually. For myself my favorite episode is episode 13 and you’ll understand why when you see it. In terms of the show, I think episode 2, which is an episode where the show sets up a casino in the great hall. The balance of the heist and the comedy aspect, and the anacronistic style of the casino, which is a sort of a ludicrous idea, for me it just works and I think it’s a hilarious episode and at the same time it’s kind of scary and dark. I really enjoyed that one. That thing of taking a license with history in order to kind of have a fun episode, I think it’s something which Americans probably have embraced a little bit more than the British. You know they took inspiration from things like “Buffy” and “A Knight’s Tale,” where history was allowed to be relaxed slightly just so that the entertainment value can be higher whereas the British can be a bit stuffy about their history, so I think it’s probably why it’s been quite popular over there.

Who is your favorite person to act with in “Robin Hood”?

RA: I think I have to say Lucy Griffiths because we have most of our stuff together and the shape of their scenes is so interesting. I’ve really seen her develop as an actress as well and then she’s sort of done the same to me, so definitely Lucy.

I saw that you are playing a new character on “Spooks” (“MI-5″ in the US) season seven.

RA: I think season seven is going to be quite interesting. They’ve taken a new look at the show and they’re definitely bringing the sixties espionage and looking at the reemergence of the cold war as well. I think it’s something which America will really enjoy, so that’s going to be on BBC America as well.

Can you talk about your character a little bit?

RA: He’s been in a Russian prison for eight years. They do a spy swop at the beginning of the series and Lucas North, that’s the character’s name, returns from Russia with a lot of dirt on him and it sort of sets off a chain reaction. That’s how the series sort of kicks off. It’s fascinating and I’ve been water boarded and all sorts, so it’s been pretty current actually.

Are you going to be a regular on the show?

RA: Yes, it’s a regular character.

How is that going to work out with “Robin Hood”?

RA: Yes, I’m double backing. I finish “Spooks” on the 29th of June, and I’ll be in the forest on the 30th of June on a horse. So it’s pretty tight this year for me, but it’s great because the two characters are completely contrasting, so it’s gonna be great fun to do that.

Is there a storyline that you would love your character to have in “Robin Hood”? Is there something that you haven’t been able to do that you would like to?

RA: Yes, and I think that they are going to be doing that in series 3. I went and met with the producers today and they’re gonna take the character on a very downward spiral, which is really interesting. They’re going to take him to rock bottom in series 3, so I’m really looking forward to that. He’s getting darker.

How did you originally get into acting?

RA: I went to a school where there was lots of drama, singing, dance, and that sort of thing, so I had bit of a taste of everything. I did a series of exam, where you do a speech from a play. I kind of got a taste for it there, and then I went into a more commercial aspect of theater to singing in musical theater and I did that for a few years. Then I realized it was actually the classical theater that interested me more. So I went and did a three years classical acting course in London and joined the Royal Shakespeare Company. Then on I kind of continued doing theater and in more recent years it’s kind of branched off into television.

What do you like better, theater or television?

RA: At the moment, I’m kind of really interested in this sort of television and film media, just because I like the ability to kind of correct it or enhance it immediately rather than having to wait until the next night to do it. I do sort of miss the live audience, but there’s a part of me that just enjoys the kind of piecing together of a character over a very long period. I’m really happy where I am at the moment.

Are you thinking of expanding to the US?

RA: Absolutely, I can’t wait. I’m ready for it, I’ve watched some of US TV dramas at the moment. I’ve just finished watching “Damages” which I just loved. I think the quality of the writing was spectacular, so as soon as I’ve got a free moment I’m gonna hopefully come over there and see what’s around.

Are there any other TV shows that you enjoy watching?

RA: I really enjoy “Heroes,” that was something that’s been very popular over here, and “Brothers & Sisters” as well. I think they’ve both been spectacular and brilliantly written. And funnily enough, British television, I’ve been doing catch up on all of the “Spooks” series as well. I think for me I’m really proud to be part of that, because I think it’s some of the best television that we produce, I really do. Each time there is a new cast change they really up the game, raise the bar, it’s really thrilling.

Is there a part that you would like to play that you haven’t had a chance to play yet?

RA: At the moment I’m working on a project about Richard the Third. I’m very keen to resurrect his reputation and tell his story, which hasn’t really been told before. It’s not the story that Shakespeare told about the hunchback monster. I’m really interested in looking at that.

In England there is a lot of cast changes, they seem to kill off main characters a lot. Are you afraid that it might happen on “Robin Hood”?

RA: To be honest, I do think that Guy of Gisbourne needs to get it in the neck at some point. I’d like to make it to the end of series 3, but I don’t know what they’ve got planned for me. But I do think he needs to get his just desserts, doesn’t he?

But then who would replace him? Who would be as mean to Robin Hood as Guy of Gisbourne?

RA: Who else? I think they’ve got something planned. After talking to the producers today, they mentioned that they are bringing another couple of characters. Obviously I can’t give it away yet, but yes, there’s going to be another character coming in, which is going to add to the evil side.

  • siobhan

    A fabulous interview with Richard with loads of new information too – thankyou!

  • Patty

    Great interview, thanks!

  • Oliveria

    Thanks for the grat inteview. So glad that Richard is coming to US to do some things.

  • http://www.robinhood2006.com Freckle

    Cant wait to see just how bad Guy can be in series three!

  • Snoopa

    Spelling:

    – betrothed

    – ludicrous

    – altar

    – the lady’s name is Lucy Griffiths

    Expressions:

    “to get one’s just DESSERTS”

    My opinion:

    Guy has no gentle side. He’s a cold-blooded murdered of the first degree.

  • Lynn

    Thanks Sandie for the great interview. Your questions obviously brought out some very thoughtful answers from Richard. It was very informative. He is not well known in the US and I think this was wonderful.

    Some great insights into Robin Hood and the role of Guy of Gisborne.

    Thanks again
    Lynn

  • Flik

    Interesting and lots of information in this interview, indeed I think everyone will be watching the new series of “Spooks”, people who havent watched it before and now are going to because they know Richard is gonna star in it lol and the others who enjoy Spooks and think yeah, this will be very interesting.

    Keep up the working and dont tire youreself out mate!

    Flik x

  • http://daemonstv.com Sandie

    Hi Snoopa,

    Thanks for the corrections. I guess that’s what happens when you are trying to put up an interview as soon as possible. :-)

  • Brittvfan

    Thank you so much for this interview. There were more little bits of information than we fans have received in almost a year of contacting BBC/BBCA/Tiger Aspect. Absolutely love this show and wish that you could do a similar interview with the star, Robin Hood himself, Jonas Armstrong. All his Angels and Autos (fans) would be very grateful.

  • Judy Nash

    Loved this interview with Richard, he is a lovely man and very open and honest and I wish him well. Is there any possibility you will one day soon be able to interview Robin Hood himself, i.e. Jonas Armstrong. In Australia, we haven’t even had any decent publicity on the show or any of the cast at all.

  • Susie

    I think everyone in America will fall in love with “Sir Guy” in Robin Hood as we Brits have. He is very sexy in a brooding kind of way. Not to mention the fact that he looks great in leather!

    Look on the website the armitage army for more information about RA it really is great and you will find lots more about Richard too.

  • Joanne

    Wonderful interview. It is obvious that you have done your homework and know the show. As Judy Nash commented from Australia about the lack of decent publicity on the show, I think that goes double here in the US. I, too, would love to read an interview with Jonas Armstrong. Thank you Richard for the great Series 3 hints!

  • miss elmo

    Thanks for sharing this wonderful interview! The questions were well thought out and Richard’s answers were really interesting. I especially loved all the info regarding the new series of Robin Hood. Must say though that I was surprised to hear that S2 E13 was his favourite… he says that we’ll understand why when we see it. I’ve seen it, yet I don’t understand…

  • Mama America

    Great article! What I love the most about Gizzy is the way you love to hate him, and yet you have a soft spot because you know he’s damaged. We women love to fix damaged men, especially such handsome ones! Did I see a quick sneak peek of a clip that Gizzy has no shirt on????
    So glad you’re coming across the pond!
    America Welcomes RA with open arms, hugs and kisses,
    God Bless America!

  • Liu

    His fav word is “sort”?

  • dreaner

    Thank you for the interview! I always enjoy reading what Richard has to say. I loved hearing the info that was given regarding S3 and his up coming future projects.

    I must add that I would also love to hear from Jonas Armstrong!

  • http://daemonstv.com Sandie

    Thank you to everybody for your kind messages! Richard Armitage was a pleasure to interview.

    As for interviewing Jonas Armstrong, that is not up to us, it depends on the show’s publicity department and what their plans are, as well as the actors’ schedules.

    Hopefully we can interview more of the cast of “Robin Hood” in the future.

  • Ruth

    Sheriff/Guy relationship a father/son one? If the Sheriff isn’t gay and got his sights on Guy then I’m a monkey’s uncle. And I’m not!

  • Isabelle

    Thank god someone pointed that out. I thought I was going mad imagining the incredible amount of sexual tension between those guys! Hmm…though that makes the whole thing a bit Freudian… Anyway, great interview, i’ve been dying to know more about series 3 and the delectable Guy!
    The Sheriff can just back off coz he’s mine…

  • Patricia A Nace

    I have some sympathy for “Guy”. In the “wedding” show,he mentions having no family in an angry,but hurtfull way. Then he tells his friend that he(Guy)has done many terrible things,but thinks his marriage to “Marion”will absolve him.
    Some women do love Bad Boys,and want to “cure”them!
    Pat

  • http://www.daemonstv.com princessa

    hiya! Ricky

    i love your acting skillsyou are the most handsome man i have ever seen. you’re so gorgeous and i want to see you in reality as well as in dramas. i loveyou so much i am absessed about you!

    4rm your abssesive lover
    Marie

  • http://www.daemonstv.com princessa

    when is the next series of robin hood coming out.

    i can’t wait 2 c ricky

  • Sybilla

    Thank you for this very insightful interview with the gorgeous and delightful Richie; he of the honeyed voice and English womanhood’s delicious guilty secret! For those of you in the US who are just getting to know him, I have to tell you that he IS the star of the show. He plays second-fiddle to no man! He’s much loved here and well established – quiet but highly articulate and always has much to say that is well worth listening to. Roll on Series III, when they finally dig up the hero in him!

  • Brittvfan

    I beg to differ with Sybilla – I am in the US and after viewing RH S1 & 2, there is absolutely no question that the star is the darlin’ Robin Hood himself, Jonas Armstrong. Although Mr. Armitage seems to be a fine man and a good actor he plays the role of a very evil man. The misguided thinking that a “good” woman can redeem such a despicable person, in reality, has led to many women becoming victims. I am sorry that the writers have chosen to alter the legend in this manner. Hopefully series 3 will turn from the “dark” side. Thank you again for the opportunity to express my opinion.

  • Lisa Akker

    I also beg to differ with Sybilla – unfortunately for all the Richard fans out there, the star of Robin Hood is Jonas Armstrong. And with good reason: he’s a wonderful actor, sweet, and caring (he’s highly involved with charity work); what you see is what you get. Not to mention his devastatingly handsome good looks and boyish charm. Sorry: Richard has to play second fiddle to Jonas well, because, Jonas is the star! I have great respect for Richard as a person and as an actor, but unfortunately, his character in the show has no redeeming value due to his continuous need to mindlessly murder people. Marian (and those who think like her) are wasting their time trying to redeem him.

  • Hillary (Indonesia)

    Guy or Robin? Despite of Robin is a Legend, I personally don’t want to be robbed even by Robin Hood. and.. he keeps some of the treasures for himself. Do you think THAT honest?
    I like Guy character in RH Series, because he is the only one which has the real complex character. He is like a trained killer dog, loyalty to the utmost to his master. Betrayal is a big no no even if the master is bad. It is very interesting to watch his growing humanly.
    Richard has done well developing his character, Good luck for his career!

  • Carol

    I hope that guy is not killed off in series 3 not matter how much he deserves it, he is the star of the show in my eyes

  • Lisa Akker

    Hillary, don’t you think Robin deserves to keep some of what he steals? After all, he and the gang give most of what they steal away to the poor. And Sir Guy stole Robin’s home and life, and is constantly trying to steal his love. I would say he’s fully justified. You will see as Series 2 unfolds how Sir Guy’s humanity “grows.”

    Carol, I respect your admiration for Richard, but he is not the star of the show; Jonas Armstrong is.

  • Rachel : All American Girl

    Well I must agree with Lisa Robin Hood Is the star of the show and deserves to keep some of the money. But still what would the show be without Guy plotting agianst Robin trying to win Marian?! Guy of Gisbourne is infact my faveorate charator. I say keep him! America Welcomes you with open arms Richard!

  • margaret

    Guy is such a compelling character because of RA’s acting, which makes Robin Hood as played by JA pale in comparison even if he is the star of the series.

  • Lisa Akker

    I so disagree with you, Margaret. I personally do not like RA’s portrayal of SGoG; he slinks around and hisses like a snake. But that is how he sees the character and it certainly is evil, so I respect that. But I really think you’re giving JA short shrift; he can certainly hold his own against RA and KA.

  • Brittvfan

    I think it’s quite apparent that each one of these very talented actors has a loyal fan base, so let’s agree to disagree. As I said before, my main objection is the way that the writers keep attempting to redeem Sir Guy. Regardless of his “love” for Marian, he is a cold-blooded killer and Mr. Armitage has done an excellent job in portraying this.
    Mr. Armstrong has the good fortune to play the hero and he has done a marvelous job. I don’t see the necessity for making comparisons between the relative merits of each actor’s abilities. Nor do I see the necessity to make denigrating remarks about one in order to praise the other. I just happen to prefer the Darlin’ Robin, Jonas Armstrong!

  • Rachel : All American Girl

    Agree to disagree?! Yeah Right! Richard Armitage rules! But of course that is only my opinion. As Brittvfan said we shouldn’t talk bad about the other.But c’mon Guy is AWESOME!

  • Lisa Akker

    RA is awesome; but so is JA. How about a compromise, Rachel? You get RA if I can have JA; deal?

  • Rachel : All American Girl

    HAHAHA! Deal!

  • Rachel : All American Girl

    But still RA Rules!

  • Lisa Akker

    If you mean YOUR heart, I agree. But JA will ALWAYS rule mine.

  • Rachel : All American Girl

    HaHa I’m way to young!

  • http://? Em

    Whoever said Guy was a cold blooded murderer and all that rubbish obviously haven’t been watchin Robin Hood very well… There are SO many episodes that you get to see another side of Guy… and whoever likes JA…BLUR!! RA RULES!!

  • Brittvfan

    Em dear, I said SGofG is a cold-blooded murderer, the body count increases with almost every episode. Apparently you have not seen the finale. The writers chose to continue the “triangle” until it reached this sickening conclusion.
    Mr. Armitage is a fine actor who I’m sure appreciates the support of all of his fans, including you. I and several thousand other fans choose to support Mr. Armstrong whom we consider to be a fine young actor. There is room for all in fandom.

  • Crystal

    lovely interview. gives a lot of insight about RA. season 2 is just over in India and i absolutely love his potrayal of Guy. waiting fo the new season and hope it will be as awesome as the first. Keep up the good work,RA.. Hope we get to see your serials faster though . we always get it 2-3 months later in India.

  • Annoymous,x

    please reply ASAP seriously im worried,
    i really need you to help herr

  • Annoymous,x

    :) :'(

  • Love RA xx

    I hope to see richard again in some more dramas. It was upsetting watching him in robinhood and so i cried at the end of series 3. I am a MAJOR fan and i am keeping my eye on him. ;)

    My gizzybear
    wishing him all the luck in the future always and forever xx