Whether you consider it a childhood classic or simply a fun action farce, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves turns 25 this month
It was a box office smash back in 1991, and despite the odd dodgy accent, continues to hold a special place in many film fans’ memories.
Mainly thanks to the late Alan Rickman’s sublime bad guy turn as the Sheriff Of Nottingham.
Here are 25 bits of trivia you (probably) don’t know about Prince Of Thieves.
1. Only Terminator 2 was more successful that year
Prince Of Thieves didn’t exactly get glowing reviews (it currently holds a 50% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes), but the film was the second most profitable of 1991, falling only behind Arnie’s Terminator 2.
2. Alan Rickman was nearly not in it
He turned down the role of Sherriff twice – before producers told him he could pretty much do what he wanted with the character.
3. It’s rated PG (and an F-bomb was dubbed out)
The theatrical version of Prince of Thieves stands as one of the least-PG, PG films ever. An utterance of the dreaded F-word (by Christian Slater in the catapult scene) was dubbed out to say ‘blimey’ instead.
4. There was a video game version
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was released for the NES and Game Boy, and even made the cover of Nintendo Power magazine. Nowadays, it’s consigned to the collections of only avid collectors.
5. The action figures were just remodeled Return of the Jedi toys
— Moving Image Museum (@MovingImageNYC) January 15, 2016
All but one of the figures were slightly modified from Kenner’s Super Powers line, while Friar Tuck, as well as the vehicles and playset, were modified from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi toys.
6. Cary Elwes turned down the role of Robin Hood
Because he thought the plot was too contrived. Brilliantly, he would go on to portray the character in Mel Brooks’ spoof Robin Hood: Men in Tights.
7. It made a football fan out of Kevin Costner
While filming scenes in England, Kevin Costner began to support Arsenal, and still follows the team to this day.
— Scherazade M. S. (@Scherazade02) January 9, 2016
8. We nearly had Mel Gibson as Robin Hood
But – perhaps thankfully – the actor had only recently filmed a period piece (1990’s Hamlet), and so passed up the project.
9. Morgan Freeman’s character is only in it due to poor research
In the popular ’80s series Robin of Sherwood (which some fans believe was ripped off by Prince of Thieves), there was a character called Nasir.
When writing the script for the film, Azeem was included in Nasir’s place, as Nasir was thought to be part of the original legend.
10. It features genuine medieval music
Most of the songs the characters sing or hum within the film are actual Medieval melodies – the song Friar Tuck sings is set to the tune of a song called ‘Bacche Bene Venies’, from the 13th century.
That’s some impressive detail.
11. The sword fighting scenes were intense
In a TV interview, Alan Rickman revealed that he had broken “about 10 swords” in the climatic duel with Kevin Costner.
12. Kevin Costner broke his nose on a horse
When Robin, Azeem, and Duncan are fleeing from Marian’s castle, Kevin Costner’s horse half-reared as he halted and the horse’s neck came up fast and broke his nose.
He didn’t miss a beat though – and continued with the scene.
13. Sean Connery was miscast, age-wise
Though he may have only had a cameo in the film, the age difference between Connery’s character (37) and his actual age (61) is worth noting.
14. Kevin Costner besieged the editing suite
As one of the film’s producers, Costner and his fellow producers took editing duties, alongside original editor Peter Boyle.
They were contractually obliged under Directors’ Guild rules to show their cut to director Kevin Reynolds, but he was not impressed with what they’d done to his film.
15. And he didn’t like people upstaging him
There are rumours that Costner cut some of Rickman’s scenes from the film when he thought the actor was outperforming him.
16. Which they did
While Rickman was nominated for a BAFTA for his role, Costner received two nominations from the much less prestigious Golden Raspberry Awards, and ‘won’ the prize for Worst Actor.
17. Costner’s edits also made some of the film nonsensical
The scene in which Robin rubs himself with manure was moved from early in the film to the end, meaning that Marian’s request that he “take a bath” towards the beginning of the film makes very little sense out of context.
18. Costner wasn’t allowed to do an English accent
The actor claims that he was initially asked to use an accent and hired a dialect coach, but this was stopped (and the coach was fired) when he did it poorly.
19. But he wasn’t the only one who didn’t speak with an English accent
Sean Connery, in his cameo as King Richard, spoke in a Scottish accent. The real Richard I only spoke French, however, so we were never expecting historical accuracy with this movie.
20. Connery’s cameo was a tidy payday
The actor was allegedly paid £250,000 for two days work.
21. But he gave it all to charity
In a gesture of goodwill Connery gave his fee for the project to a good cause.
As an interesting aside, he himself played Robin Hood in 1976’s Robin and Marian (above).
22. Pierce Brosnan filmed a behind the scenes documentary for some reason
Despite having no real connection to the production, the James Bond hosted a half-hour documentary entitled Robin Hood: The Myth, the Man, the Movie.
23. Bryan Adams’ theme song frustrated other pop stars
‘Everything I Do (I Do It For You)’ not only spent a record breaking 16 weeks at No 1 in the UK, it kept Right Said Fred’s ‘I’m Too Sexy’ from the top spot.
24. The script was sold for a LOT of money
There was obviously huge demand for the film, as Pen Densham and John Watson’s script was sold to producers for $1.2 million.
25. There was a lot of improvisation going on
Both Rickman’s line about cancelling Christmas, and Christian Slater’s exclamation of “F*ck me, he cleared it!” were totally improvised.