In conjunction with the airing of season three of Robin Hood on BBC America, I shall be running BBC America Q & A’s with three of the show’s leads. First up, Richard Armitage, who plays the infamous Sir Guy of Gisborne.
What’s it like being the bad guy?
Richard Armitage – People asked me why I killed Marian, and I know they sometimes get carried away, but they did think that I had decided to do it rather than the writers deciding to do it! I think people were truly baffled and had no idea what the future was going to hold for the series without Marian. And, if I’m honest, I felt the same, so it was really exciting to get back in and see what they were going to do with that – particularly when Marian had been loved by both Robin and Gisborne. I felt like Marian had become the reason that Gisborne was still alive and still functioning, and I wondered how on Earth he was going to exist now.
Playing Gisborne is fun, although it gets to you after a while because you do forget how to smile, and you see everyone else around you having a really good time. I’ve spent three years with a face on me like thunder! But it’s great getting into that costume and the hair and make-up. This year we chose to make Gisborne look wasted, bedraggled, and yet at times heroic – it’s brilliant to play a character that can both attract and repel.
He is darker and more disturbed this season. I suspect the viewers will not like him, but they may understand why they hate him!
How would you describe Robin’s and Guy’s complicated relationship?
RA – I definitely think they could have been allies. And that’s part of the problem, that they both know it. If it was out-and-out hatred it would be easier, but it’s a deep hatred, which is actually laced with a bit of admiration for each other. They hate the fact that they feel like that. I always played with the idea that Gisborne wanted everything that Robin had, and has. Because they grew up together, Gisborne feels that if he’d had the same opportunities as Robin, that he could have been the hero and could have been loved. I believe that’s what he wants. But Robin’s adored and he’s the popular one. He’s a rebel because he’s an outlaw, so all of those elements infuriate Gisborne and fuel his desire to be the antithesis of that, to be Robin’s nemesis. At the same time, I believe he’s afraid of him. I think he understands his brain and skill with the bow and he doesn’t underestimate him at all.
What do you think of the characters’ uneasy truce in season three?
RA – It’s actually not the first time. It happened in season two when they were forced to work together to find the Sheriff. This time they’re thrust into a situation where they’re reliant on each other’s knowledge and forced to achieve something together in order for the two of them to survive.
What do you think of the new character, Isabella (Lara Pulver)?
RA – Just when Gisborne thought he had got rid of all his demons, something from his past comes back to haunt him. He has denied her existence because something happened between them, which is so terrible that he’s blocked it out of his memory. But she comes back and opens all those floodgates again and reminds him of what he did. She turns out to be a real thorn in his side.
By rights, they should be allies – they should be strong together – but I think she’s just as ambitious as he is and also, up until now, Gisborne has been able to invent himself and tell the world exactly what they want to hear. He’s had no family to challenge that.
It was interesting, because they cast Lara without me being involved, but we look alike! And we do think alike and move in a similar way. It was very good casting. I really believed she was my sister. We got on extremely well and I enjoyed our scenes together.
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