Sunday, January 07, 2007

Robin Hood. Spotlight on the cast 1 : Jonas Armstrong.

Jonas Armstrong was 25 years old when filming the first series of Robin Hood. He was not the youngest Robin Hood ever (Michael Praed was 24), but his youthful appearance was certainly in keeping with the role. Those Robin Hood fans who prefer an older Robin, such as Kevin Costner (36), Errol Flynn (29), or Richard Greene (37), should bare in mind that the average life expectancy for a man in those days was only about 30, and that a Knight who could survive even two years in the Crusades was very rare indeed.
At the start of the 2006 version of Robin Hood the BBC borrowed as much from previous traditions as it infused from the contemporary. For example, Jonas's small beard is perfectly in keeping with descriptions of Robin Hood in the old ballads, and his acrobatic displays when swinging across the Castle courtyard, or jumping from balconies, is very like the classic Hollywood versions of the hero made famous by Flynn and Fairbanks. (Jonas has a cetificate in stage combat!) But what was so very refreshing about Jonas was his broad accent. Born in Ireland, raised in Lancashire, his accent made our Nottingham hero much more believable to today's audience than the somewhat "educated English" tones of previous actors; or worst still the undisguised American accents of others.
But what Jonas Armstrong will most be remembered for was the range of emotions he was required to bring to the part. We've seen many love scenes in previous Robin Hood films, but not the "first love" quarrels and sulks that he and Lucy Griffiths so convincingly enacted, and certainly never a Robin Hood moved to tears. In those scenes where Marian was believed dead, and later doomed to a marriage with Guy of Gisborne, Jonas’s emotional displays gave our hero a dimension not seen before.

If I have any criticisms of the Jonas Robin it would be these, (and neither of them are to do with the actor himself): Robin Hood would never have used an inferior Saracen bow. I know when I first saw that bow I thought it was a good idea in as much as it was a symbol of his respect for his former enemy, and regret at what happened in the Crusades. I thought that if we weren't going to get a Saracen outlaw, then the bow was a good substitute. But Djaq later fulfilled that role. Before gunpowder the English long bow was one of the most powerful weapons in the world. Archers would design their arrows especially to suit different needs; they could pierce chain mail, or bring down a fully grown deer. Robin Hood and the English long bow are inseparable, and I do now agree with those critics who say the BBC was just trying to be politically correct. I also think Jonas's wardrobe in the early episodes was a bit small. Yes, Robin got his name because he was "the man in the hood", but am I the only one who thought that first "hoody" was a size or two too small? In the later episodes he looked fabulous.

I regard Jonas Armstrong as being amongst the best three Robin Hoods of all time (the other two being Michael Praed and Richard Greene), and it will be really interesting to see how all the experience both he and the BBC have gained during series one will be put to use next year. For whole new generations of television viewers, Jonas Armstrong will no doubt always be Robin Hood.

Next week: Lucy Griffiths.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow i'm the first comment
Amy xxx
p.s i love harry lloyd

10:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks ever so much Robin Hood for making this fantastic website.It's definitly my favourite. I think it's very kind and thoughtful of you for spending your on making this for us all to read. So I'd like to say a very big THANK-YOU to you!

Luv Amy xxx

10:12 AM  
Anonymous tiff said...

ye same..its got really really good pictures of jonas armstrong on this blog..nd its really interesting!
i prefere young robin hoods cuz ive watched other robin hoods and they were really boring!
but this one im well in too.
thanx robin nd bbc and everyone hu was in it!

10:18 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

THANKS EVERYONE it's a great website isn't it Tiff
luv Amy xxx

10:26 AM  
Anonymous Tasha said...

Excellent comments on Jonas's portrayal.Very honest.I loved the way he developed his character.Should be interesting to see how he develops him further in the next series.Hopefully,there'll be less PC in the next series too.It's obvious that viewers have mostly loathed this aspect.

12:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has anyone been on the 5 Autumns Robin Hood website and went on the live journal site???. You should do it's well good. It's got great stories about Will trying to tell Djaq that he loves her and then getting interupted by Alan. It's sooo sweet
luv Amy xxx

12:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Will decided, it was now or never. He had to tell her.

"Djaq, I... I have something to say to you. It's should be so easy to say, but yet I can't find the words to say."

Djaq pulled her head out of Will's chest. She smiled at Will. Everything about him was so cute. Even in this nervous state, which she too shared, made him cute. "It's ok, just say it."

Will took a deep breath. 'Here goes,' he thought. "Djaq I..." Before Will could finish the sentence he so longed to say, they both heard a twig snap near by.

Immediately, they broke from the hug. The moment was gone, and right now, they feared for the worst. With their weapons drawn, they prepared for a quick get away.

A bush rustled. Both hearts beating fast. It rustled again, and a figure emerged.

"Hey, hey! Hold up, it's me!" Allan stepped into the clearing, arms rasied. "We've been sent to find you, though I think I might leave you after that welcome." Will and Djaq relaxed knowing it was their friend and not one of the Sherrif's guards or Gisbourne. Will laughed at himself, thinking 'Why would it be anyone other than one of us?'

Here's part of my favourite story on the Robin Hood live journal website. It's great don't ya think

luv Amy xxx

12:57 PM  
Anonymous Sam said...

That was wonderful.
I totally agree. I think Jonas' portrayal of Robin Hood is fantastic - I think I'd be making a safe bet in saying he IS Robin Hood as far as most people who watch it are concerned.
It's brilliant! :D

1:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah even though people say that jonas is too skinny it isn't his fault he got picked for the part...he even thought that he might be too skinny to get the part....i think harry and jonas are the best..hehe :D....not forgetting joe xx grace

1:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i so agree with you Grace. I think Harry and Joe are the best but prefer Sam better than Jonas. Don't get me wrong though i still like Jonas.
luv Amy xxx

2:26 PM  
Blogger robin hood said...

Tasha and Sam,
It would be interesting to hear from Jonas critics - but they all seem to have disappeared.

5:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find Sam really funny too Amy....just coz i didn't mention him doesn't mean i don't like him lol :P! Grace..yeah i agree with RH...where are those critics i wanna hear there views

6:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i agree with Robin Hood Blogger that jonus totally rocks as robin hood, i rekon that jonus armstrong wil remain in my memory of assosiation as THE 'robin hood', his more real portral of robin hood blew me away, he is as believable in emotional intelligence and stark raw feelings as Lucy is as marion, both are incredible and i enjoyed they're romance and troubles every time. its the perfect balance between real, human and believable verses great watching. FABULOUS, simply LOVED IT clara xxx

7:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i know some of you will be interested in the fact that i just found a new website

8:58 PM  
Anonymous Tasha said...

An interesting summing up of the series here

12:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Robin Hood
thanks so much
i love all the pictures
i agree with jonas being up there with all the other great robin hoods
i love this site it is great and makes my week better
will you do the guy who played roy as well

1:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Love your site by the way, so much information and your reviews I've read every week and enjoyed very much. Keep up the great work and look forward to reading your other profiles.

Regarding Dan Owen's review that tasha linked to, Dan's also been reviewing every week with some thought and care (unlike some). I thought he made some very valid points about the series as a whole and which characters have worked and which have not so much.

Richard Armitage and Keith Allen have been two most consistent actors in the show for me in terms of performances each week. They rarely hit a wrong note no matter how bizarre the scene may be.

Jonas has developed the character well and I now see him as "Robin Hood", however there have been times when the development of his character has not been particularly consistent for me. I hope to see him really settle into his role come series 2 and more of Guy/Marian interaction please - it's never ever dull!

11:09 PM  
Anonymous Tasha said...

Just wanted to let you know that this site has been mentioned on the BBC 'Points of View' Board.A complimentary mention,i should add

11:23 AM  
Blogger robin hood said...

hi tasha,

thanks for letting me know.

I started the original Robin Hood blog over a year before the BBC series started, and I know Jonas and Harry and Lucy must have inspired loads of spin off sites since that series started, so it's nice to get a mention.

Wikipedia have also put a link to this blog on their pages.

I'm just happy with my roast venison and a warm, safe cave.

3:29 PM  
Anonymous tiff said...

havnt been on dis site for ages but ta for that story amy ws awsome!!!

8:15 PM  
Anonymous rae said...

hi tiff. u still go on scarlett fever?

8:47 PM  
Anonymous Robin Hood's Outlaw said...

I love this site! It's really good--that Jonas article was amazing, it was just the sort of thing I had been looking for! keep up the good work!

8:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i love d@ story 2

4:11 PM  
Anonymous tiff said...

ye i will be..but i bin reli busy nd stressed dis week so i ent reli bin doin anything nice lol
missin robin hood

6:27 PM  
Anonymous rae said...

cnt wait 2 c harry in dr who. he plays Jeremy Baines. for more info

7:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the average life expectancy for a man in those days was only about 30

That's because infant mortality was like 50%. A man who got past age 5 or so was perfectly likely to live to 60 or 65 (less true for women, who often died in childbirth).

7:38 PM  
Blogger kim123 said...

i dont want jonus armstrong 2 quit he is sooo cute! luv ya no1 can replace him

8:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i love jonas armstrong he is amazing and i would love to meet him, it would be a dream come true!!

7:24 PM  

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