A New Queen
With Sienna Miller deemed too slim and young to play Maid Marian, chatter in February 2009 quickly turned to who would replace her.
The Telegraph got the scoop first, speaking with Mark Strong, who said: “I think Cate Blanchett is set to take the Maid Marian part. She is a wonderful actress and it would make it a much classier film if she was in it.”
Days later it was a done deal. Meanwhile, the film’s budget was revealed to be $130m, while Scott was aiming for a PG-13 rating Stateside (which would probably translate to a 12A over here).
Producer Grazer was overjoyed with Blanchett’s signing, saying that she and Crowe were “both highly accomplished dramatic actors who are taken seriously playing rich characters in period pieces, but each has the ability to show you fun”.
Casting was now in full swing, and production looked positive, having seized on attractive tax breaks by scheduling to shoot in London.
Crowe’s friend and former bandmate and frontman for Great Big Sea Alan Doyle signed on to play Allan A’Dayle, who revealed that the film would involve “a lot of singing”.
“He’s a troubadour,” Doyle said of his character. “He’s an Irish lute playing balladeer. He’s an artist who loves to sing a song. With two or three other guys, Allan A’Dayle is one of the Merry Men who’s followed Robin Hood for a long time and hopes to continue to do so. Yes, I will be playing the lute in the film.”
“A lot of it by different people in different parts of the film. I don’t know quite yet if Russell and I will be singing together. But there will be lots of music in the film.”
By 24 March 2009, the cast had ballooned its line up, with Vanessa Redgrave playing Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, Oscar Isaac as King John, Kevin Durand as Little John.
A month later, William Hurt signed up to play William Marshall, a notorious historical figure whom Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury, called the “greatest knight that ever lived”.
In May, Vanessa Redgrave sadly withdrew from the project in the wake of her daughter Natasha’s tragic death. The role would have been her first after her daughter’s passing. In her place, Dame Eileen Atkins accepted the part of Queen Eleanor.
The actress admitted that she was “terrified” about the project. “They keep rewriting the script and changing my lines quite dramatically,” she said. “So I'm terrified of forgetting them.”
Next: Tightening The Bow