January 1, 2010

Interview w/Robin Hood Costume Designer

Here's an interesting interview with the woman who designed Guy of Gisborne's biker-style leathers.  

Excerpt followed by a link to the entire interview

Conducted and transcribed by Allen W. Wright

Frances Tempest is the costume designer for the first two series of the 2006 Robin Hood TV show by Tiger Aspect and the BBC. She has over 30 years of experience in the industry. Her costume designs have appeared at the National Theatre and the English National Opera. She has received four Emmy nominations and three BAFTA nominations.

..In 2009, Frances spoke at Robin Hood: Media Creature - the 2009 academic conference for Robin Hood studies at the University of Rochester. Her paper was titled "Robin Hood for the Playstation Generation, or Every Age Gets the Robin Hood It Deserves".

This interview was conducted in person in Rochester, NY at the October 2009 Robin Hood academic conference.
..And they really wanted to direct it (new RH series) at a young, masculine -- it was really directed at teenage boys. That's what their audience was. If they could pick up other people along the way, all well and good. But it was to be directed at teenage boys.
AWW: How about the girl audience? It seems that a lot of women liked it.
FT: Robin was supposed to be for the female audience. I don't think he ever achieved that because Guy of Gisborne came along and stole the show. It wasn't meant to be like that but just because of the casting, that's what actually happened.
AWW: I saw that with the "fanfic" discussions. [An earlier conference paper discussed how much of the stories written by fans centered around Gisborne instead of Robin Hood.]
FT: Well, I had no idea because I had never seen North and South [BBC mini-series starring actor Richard Armitage]. I didn't realize that Richard Armitage carried such a big fan base, but he already came with all these thousands of adoring fans. I had no idea about that. And so I clothed him in black leather. Suddenly there were websites all over the place! [Laughs.] I had in my head the image of a racing driver or a motorbike driver - like Alain Delon -- the young Alain Delon. He was going to be a fantastic, sexy racing driver, that was my image for him.

AWW: He also had the duster that was like a western hero, and almost like a regency cape.
FT: It was a cross between a regency cape and Sherlock Holmes and How the West Was Won. I was trying to roll all of those sorts of things into it. Of course, it was tempered - like things always are - by practical considerations. He had to be able to get on and off his horse in it. He had to be able to fight in it. There were stuntmen, but a lot of the actors did an awful lot of their own stuntwork. So all of those practical considerations had to be uppermost.

AWW: You also had the other outfit for Guy, with the piping along the sleeves.

FT: Yes, which was fastened with these wolf's head clips. And then he had wolves on the knuckles -- like knuckle dusters -- on the gauntlets. All I can say is that I spent a lot of time hanging about in motorbike shops in Budapest.

AWW: Guy must have hated his black leather in the summer.
FT: The summers were awful. I mean, it was very good. The boys loved their costumes. They were thrilled when they first put them on. They really got into them, emotionally inhabited them. It was terrific. But that was about March. And by the time August came, they were ... the temperature was over 30 degrees (Celsius). They could hardly move. And Little John in his big leather coat! But he was very good, he didn't try to take it off. Robin kept trying to ... I shouldn't tell you that ... Jonas [Armstrong] kept trying to take all his clothes off, just because he was so hot and to be firmly bundled back into them.

AWW: But Richard Armitage didn't?

FT: No, he loved black leather. He wasn't getting out of that, no matter what. [Laughs.]

AWW: So, what was the design approach to the characters? With Guy, you said it was motorcycle influences.


FT: The brief, as much as it existed -- this conversation with Foz -- was to create a mixture of modern and medieval that a young audience would find a point of reference with or respond to and wouldn't alienate them. The executive producer who I talked to later about the whole process said well, we couldn't have put them in tights because it would have looked ridiculous and I thought "why?". But the boys were terrified of wearing tights.


Wonder if she designed this famous Guy costume as well



bZirk said...

Thanks for posting this.

So the producers didn't really know what they were dealing with in Richard Armitage? LOL! I wonder how many times this is going to happen before someone has the sense to put him in something really good! Someone smart and with means hopefully, will "discover" him soon.

Ragtag said...

I've never seen that thumbs up image of GoG before. How nicely does that show off the wolfshead clips and knuckle dusters.

It worked out for the best didn't it? They designed the costume objectively, and she still made him badasssssssssss.

RiCrAr said...

Isn't it a fascinating interview. She sounds as though it was quite a challenge for her to keep up w/the demands in Hungary.

Would almost any actor have made the impact RA did in the biker leather? Didn't it take a stunning athletic build, broad shoulders and his swaggering(dance-like) bada$$ 'attitude' as GoG to pull it off? Look at the strong reaction to JT in cravat & tophat:) or Lucas North in jeans and snug t-shirt.

Yummy is as yummy does - only a handful of actors whose total package includes gorgeous appearance plus great acting instincts can make a designers creations look brilliant. Some manage to pull it off in one major production and then get flabby and/or substitute their edgey acting w/arrogance.
That from a completely objective, emotionally detached observer;) HA!

Ragtag said...

No, i don't think just anyone can put on biker leather and make us swoon. The harsh lines on his face - the strong nose and thin lips with 5 o'clock shadow help him pull it off. Imagine Much wearing it! Not a chance.

RiCrAr said...

"harsh lines on his face"
...what,,where?:) I often look at his thin lips and longer-than-average nose and wonder to myself.."how do you manage to look so da#n perfect?" Actually, I believe it's his stunning large blue expressive eyes that cancel out the other features, then add his deep sexy voice and the question is answered in spades.

Did you know RA is considering losing weight again for the role of Charlie. I hope not:( Why put yourself at a disadvantage when first appearing on the big screen. Lucas looked skeleton like for at least the first 4 eps of Spooks7 and it did make a huge difference -- not for the better. Once he's established as a wonderful actor he can afford to take those professional risks. Movie viewers who've no clue who RA is should be given a chance to see him first at his best. How can they appreciate the 'incredibe shrinking actor' feat without former knowledge of his usual hunkiness.

Just wrote the Wed poll for myself:)


bZirk said...

Oh, I don't discount his appearance at all. LOL! But that's not what sets him apart. There are plenty of really hot actors. This is something more.

RiCrAr said...

Agreed bzirk. Geo Clooney & Brad Pitt have handsome appearances but that's where it ends. Both of them put me to sleep--have not watched any of their films. No interest whatsoever.
With many unread books sitting on shelves, why waste time on mediocre actors? right?:)

I rewatched ep 8 of Spooks few days ago. In the scene where Lucas tells Sarah he understands how she must feel about Walker...his voice descends to sub-ratherskeller level when he says "to find out someone is not whom you believed them to be - it hurts." WHOARRH!!:)


bZirk said...

We're agreed ricrar. :D

What's scary is that I think I'm starting to recognize your writing style. ;-)

BTW, I don't care what he does about his weight, and my favorite Guy costume was the duster.

RiCrAr said...

Your starting to recognize my writing style??...well, that should come in handy whenever 'anonymous' drops in and posts:)

Hope he doesn't go on another hunger strike, the biceps & pecs remained incredibly intact but the scrawny ribcage was not attractive:) My fav Guy costume was the long, lean sliver of wedding leather. He looked good enough to....never mind:)


bZirk said...

Oh, I liked the wedding get up too, and that might be my favorite episode. Did I mention that I actually cried during the wedding scenes? I was shocked that my jaded self could cry at something like that.

Ragtag said...

I have to vote the new armour! It all comes down to one shot of him in the dreadful lion episode in series 3 when he's got this little smile on his face, as if fresh from an alluring hair toss. You little minx you!

Ragtag said...

Oh no i just realised when you said armour you meant the scene noted for its LACK of armour.

Ok, i thought you meant that armour-like football padding from S3

Anonymous said...

bzirk, why did you cry for the Guy/Marian wedding scene?...were your tears for Marian or Guy?

Suddenly the room felt very warm when Guy walked out of the house in that long sexy coat...Mercy! The designer didn't show any for us when it came to GoG's wardrobe, did she:)

ragtag, right;)...you never thought for a split second about the scene when Guy was trying on his armor & Marian walked in, did you:)

Marian certainly focused on the armor or something close to it at that moment when she emitted a soft murmur of delight and a little smile flashed across her lips.

In real life she would've been thinking--'why exactly have I been hesitating to say YES to him??? That had to be the sexiest scene in the entire series. Only other one that could compete with it was the day before their wedding, when they were alone in Locksley Manor and he hovered at her lips saying "see what you do to me..my passion for you." Apparently Guy felt forced to sit down, due to great physical discomfort after Marian walked out. WoW! That was another HOT scene. Smoke's starting to waft out of this forum. Whew! :)
P.S. I've some great pics of guy3 with the alluring smile & armour-like football padding - will post asap.


bZirk said...

Oh, I cried for Guy of course. He was desperate to be loved and redeemed. The part where he says, "I've dreamed of this day," was a gut wrencher. That's such a corny line, that I doubt very many people could pull that off. But he did. Not just because of that moment but because of the way he had developed the character, and I give the writers and directors credit for this as well.

Oh, and the line about "my passion for you" was also really corny, but it worked because Richard Armitage can act.

phylly3 said...

Fascinating post! I'd also like to hear more interviews with people who worked with RA. I am interested in what the writers of the series might have to say about RA's influence in how the RH series was written. It is so unusual that an actor in a minor (non-heroic) role could usurp the hero's popularity.
Also its interesting that it says RA liked his leather costumes, even though it was very hot filming in the summer. Somewhere else I read that he was hoping he could buy one of his leather costumes.

RiCrAr said...

Have you listened to one of the interviews on this sidebar when Richard says he's puzzled why, in his words, a ruthless killer would become so popular. IMO, his passion for creating complicated characters is the answer. Apparently the writers' initially intended to make the latest GoG as cold-hearted as in the original legend, but Richard's suggestions to them for nuancing (and therefore making more human) his character evoked more empathy from viewers than expected.

Actually, in RL the bad boys of the world often are magnetic for many women due to their intoxicating mixture of charm and nastiness. Basically it's often the underlying reason some women find themselves entangled in difficulat love/hate relationships and struggle emotionally to cut the ties.

Must ask - is this character pattern repeating itself w/Lucas North although in a more subtle way? Did RA suggest for series8 that the story would be more interesting if Lucas developed a strong love for Sarah rather than simply engaging in a shallow affair?

Discussions about RA's portrayal of GoG are always fascinating - he created such a stimulating character that (against their better instincts and long before his redemption) many viewers found themselves captivated and to this day continue to mourn Guy's disappearnace from the screen.


RiCrAr said...

Phylly3, As for RA not wanting to remove his leather second skin despite the heat, there's an interview with him on the N&S dvds where he comments on costumes.

He described JT's black suit as having worn knees which helped him re-enter that character quicker once in costume. He even went as far as to imagine JT's pocketwatch as belonging to his deceased father. While watching that interview for the first time, my heart & head said "there's a lot more there than meets the eye and that's really saying something considering the visual feast that is RA":)