Robin Hood arrows in for a second series
Richard Armitage is Guy of Gisborne
Richard Armitage adores playing the bad guy. In Robin Hood, he portrays Guy of Gisborne, the Sheriff's brooding henchman. To underline just what a villain he is, Guy only ever wears black leather – which matches his sombre stubble and hair.
"You've got to have baddies that you can boo," Richard says with a knowing smile. "While you always have to play your character with truth, at the same time you have to make him dastardly. For the purposes of the plot – because he is Robin's great rival in politics and in love – viewers have to dislike Guy. And the music backs that up – it seems to boo Guy every time he comes on screen!"
But Guy is no mere cardboard cut-out villain. In Richard's skillful hands, he is a flesh-and-blood human being who is torn between his ambition to please the unremittingly evil Sheriff and his yearning to be with the good-hearted Marian.
"In order to sustain the character of Guy you have to find conflict within him," says the 36-year-old actor, who has also starred in North And South, George Gently and Miss Marie Lloyd. "He's constantly pulled between good and evil, between who he really wants to be and who he actually is. He could have been a good man, but he is forever dragged down by his fatal flaw – that he wants glory at all costs. I think that internal conflict works very well, because, after all, all the best drama is fuelled by conflict."
Why does Richard think the show has been such a success with such a wide audience?
"Because it works on so many different levels. Trying to please everyone can be very hard, but, like Shrek or The Simpsons, Robin Hood manages to entertain adults and children at the same time, but in different ways. Adults will not necessarily laugh at the same thing as their children. Making a drama succeed for different audiences is a very hard feat, but I think we've achieved it really well."