Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Robin Hood. Spotlight on the cast 6: Harry Lloyd.

Even before film was invented there were already many different accounts of who exactly Will Scarlet (also spelt Scarlett), actually was. Most Robin Hood fans have accepted the version in which his real name was Will Scathelocke (or Scatlock), and was changed to Scarlet for one of two reasons: The first reason is based on the original tale which tells of Robin Hood meeting a stranger in the woods wearing scarlet silks. This seems unlikely, but the word "scarlet" can translate as "rich" or "expensive", and was no doubt taken as literally bright red in the earliest costumed plays about Robin. The second reason is that Will was both short tempered and filled with bitterness and anger at the death of his wife, caused by the Norman lords; his fits of rage being described as "scarlet".
It is possible to put both accounts together and picture an angry, outlawed man, seeking revenge on the Normans, and given to wearing as trophies those items of expensive clothing he stole from the rich. But there would still remain various other aspects of the complex character with which he has been credited. For example, many of the tales describe him as Robin Hood's cousin, and it was quite common for families to be outlawed rather than just one individual. An intriguing character indeed.
1930's Hollywood depicted Will Scarlet (Patrick Knowles) quite literally in red silk, merrily singing on the river bank whilst Robin Hood and Little John fought it out on the bridge. (This new found musical ability no doubt saved the film budget from having to employ an Alan A Dale!) Thankfully, Anthony Forwood in the first Walt Disney version of Robin Hood toned the character down somewhat. And note how, in all these versions, and many which followed, Will Scarlet is Robin Hood's closest friend long before he even meets Little John.
We never got to see an angry Will Scathelocke / Scarlet until the opening episodes of 1955's the Adventures of Robin Hood. Here Bruce Seton plays the part of scruffy outlaw leader Will Scatlock who robs from the rich to keep for himself (similar to the way the BBC portrayed Little John), until his death puts Robin in command. This idea was ahead of its time, and there wouldn't be another angry Scarlet (with the possible exception of Douglas Mitchell), until Ray Winstone made the role his own in 1984's Robin of Sherwood. Winstone's Will wasn't just angry, he was almost psychopathic with rage at the murder of his wife, a man described as being "scarlet inside", and there's no-one better at playing the small screen hard man than Ray Winstone. Thankfully when the BBC scripted its new version of Robin Hood they avoided trying to compete with Winstone's definitive version (which even Christian Slater could not do), and also avoided slipping back into the old concept of a man dressed in rich fabrics (which not everyone did).
The BBC remained true to some of the original concepts about Will, in as much as circumstances led him to steal and become an outlaw before Robin himself, and I for one much prefer this return to Will Scarlet being someone Robin Hood meets at the point of becoming an outlaw rather then him be a previous long time friend or servant (the role now taken by Much). Harry Lloyd's Will looks up to Robin Hood as someone he has admired for a long time. Even before Robin left for the Crusades it seems his ability with the long bow had made him a local legend with the younger boys and men. Indeed, when Will is arrested in episode 1, he always believes Robin won't let him hang. (He was almost proved wrong!) Harry Lloyd, two years younger than Jonas Armstrong, conveys this sense of loyalty and "hero worship" really well, as he does his innocence and youth. (Note the scene in episode 5 when he sees Djaq topless and soon after declares his love for her). It's refreshing to have a younger-than-Robin Will Scarlet, and Harry Lloyd undeniably has a charismatic presence on screen which has brought many admirers and devoted fan sites. He is really well cast as this inexperienced, young version of the outlaw who is not yet the man.
What we need to see now is a "Harry episode", a story which will require more of his character, in the same way that Gordon Kennedy did in episode 11 when defending his son, and Joe Armstrong in episode 7 when he lost his brother. Will Scarlet, as he stands at present in this new BBC version, is still an unknown character, seemingly content with his lot. But as he matures into manhood in Sherwood Forest what is he thinking inside? Does he think about his late mother? Does he miss home, and feel anger at the way he was treated by the Sheriff? Does he really have a crush on Djaq? We saw the tears at Marian's bedside, but will we ever see the scarlet inside rise to the surface?
To see the church wall against which Will Scarlet was buried click here. To see the stone marker which commemorates the fact Will remains buried somewhere within this graveyard click here.

Next week: Anjali Jay

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Anonymous rae said...

o wow. i really like this!! i enjoyed cristian slaters version of will scarlett but i have to say harry lloyd is my favourite. i'm not just saying that because i think hes cute, but because i think its a nice new look on the character. In prince of theives he was a very angry character and against robin, whereas in this version he is young and shy and as you said, he looks up to robin. harry lloyd is sweet as scarlett. his facial expressions and his little moments are sweet and its nice to have a young will.

thanks for the great site robin!

4:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well I have to admit that Harry does nothing for me in terms of lust appeal unlike many posters to this blog! Far, far too young for me. That being said, I really like the actor and his portrayal - I too liked Christian Slater's version like rae. This new version of Will is NOT angry at Robin or his long lost brother! I don't think anyone could compete with Ray Winstone frankly and I wouldn't want them to try. I like the fact he is the "baby" of the gang as good as in looks and experience. He appears so terribly young and the fact he is still finding his way in life as a man yet is with this band of brothers so to speak fighting the good fight - nice touch.

Like Gordon Kennedy's Little John, aside from the odd moment, I don't really feel I've got to know his character very deeply, how he feels about his situation, he needs an episode to shine like Little John had and if not that at least more character developement.

Interesting to see what plotlines they come up with for the next series and what chance Harry has to develop his role.


10:33 PM  
Blogger robin hood said...

Hi Bonnie and Rae,

Well it seems we're in broad agreement about Harry. And Bonnie, do I detect a fellow Robin of Sherwood fan? (Still my favourite).

1:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is great. quite excited for anjali jays one next week as it should be quite interesting
luv amy xxx
p.s i love harry lloyd

6:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

im too young to remember any other ones so i think theyre all excellent now especially will because hes so mysterious!!

8:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank-you for this, you really add another dimension to this series, what do you think of Russell Crow as the Sheriff in the new Hollywood film AND he is going to be the good guy! hope they don't mess around with it too much but it certainly looks that way!

2:20 PM  
Blogger robin hood said...

First of all, I think any new Robin Hood film is good news. But I do have my reservations about what I've been reading so far.

It will be interesting to see if they adopt any of the ideas from the BBC series. Certainly Prince of Thieves took the angry Will Scarlet and the Saracen outlaw from Robin of Sherwood. Will we, I wonder, see a Marian with a secret identity? Time will tell.

Russell Crowe is certainly an excellent actor. I've never been a big fan of Hollywood's vision of Robin Hood though. Neither Costner nor Flynn do much for me. As I said on Radio Nottingham, we Brits don't touch Billy the Kid, so please leave our Robin alone.

3:46 PM  
Blogger Emily said...

I very much liked Harry's portrayal of Will. My Robin Hood movies are few that I've seen - PoT and most regretfully Men in Tights.
I do not remember Will from them at all, and so this Will is the Will Scarlet that I am getting to know.
That said, I want to know more about him too. He needs more lines, and a big plot to let him shine :)

5:23 AM  
Blogger robin hood said...

Hi Emily,

I THINK I'm right in saying that the Will Scarlet O'Hara (!!) character in Men In Tights was played be the same person who became Robion Hood in the New Adventures of Robin Hood: Matthew Porretta.

I have studiously avoided Men In Tights, and regretably cannot find a copy of New Adventures, so I stand to be corrected. (I think the New Adventures advertised on Amazon.com is a cartoon version and NOT the cult TV series).

11:07 AM  
Anonymous Eleanor said...

I think Harry Lloyd is the best Will Scarlett. He is quiet, strong and very very very very sexy! Perfect!

6:58 PM  

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