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Thursday 27 Nov 2014

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Robin Hood returns to BBC One – Lara Pulver as Isabella

Lara Pulver as Isabella

Life for Robin, his friends and, indeed, his foes, will never be the same again now Isabella, the daring and beautiful aristocratic sister of Guy of Gisborne, has galloped into Sherwood Forest.

Pursued by two sinister henchmen, Isabella shows she's much more than a pretty face as she fights off her assailants, meets and charms Robin Hood, and succeeds in hiding her identity until it suits her to reveal it…

Isabella is played by TV newcomer, the multi-talented actress Lara Pulver, who sang and danced her way to a 2007 Olivier nomination in the Donmar Warehouse's acclaimed Parade.

Clearly with more than one string to her bow Lara is grateful for her vigorous training at The Doreen Bird College of Performance and her early experiences as a member of the National Youth Music Theatre, which included a run on Broadway in Pen Dragon when she was just 14 years old.

This thorough grounding in dance, movement and stage performance have kept the actress fit, able and ready to fight, run, and ride her way on to the small screen in BBC One's hit series Robin Hood.

Lara reveals that the day she went along to her Robin Hood audition she also had a casting call for Rain Man, the West End theatre show based on Tom Cruise's hit film.

Determined to do her best, Lara ended up an hour early for her meeting with the Robin Hood producers and so, to galvanise herself, she stopped to eat her lunch in London's Soho Square opposite where her audition was scheduled.

"The park there was filled with people doing Tai Chi and, after watching for a while, I couldn't resist joining in. It was the best thing I could have done because when I auditioned I was relaxed and ready for anything."

Her talents and adaptability were recognised and two days later Lara was on a plane for Budapest where series three of Robin Hood was under way.

Lara says the cast and crew couldn't have been more welcoming and she loved the collaborative process involved in making television.

"Isabella is a terrific first role because she is thrown right into the heart of the action; like my character I just had to seize the moment and make the most of it," says Lara.

"When Isabella arrives she is searching for her older brother, Gisborne. She asks him for his protection because she's running away from an abusive husband who he'd arranged that she marry thinking the match was in her best interests.

"But Isabella's full of contradictions. While she asks for her brother's help, there's no doubt she's a survivor and has learnt how to look after herself. She's intelligent and canny.

"What's more, her strong will and life experiences have made her a potentially dangerous woman. She understands machinations of power and is quick to learn how to better her position.

"In no time at all Isabella becomes wedged right between Robin Hood and his worst enemy – her brother," explains Lara. "And then the sparks really begin to fly and the twists and turns are just brilliant. Hopefully, everyone will be on the edge of their seats as the action unfolds in the weeks ahead."

The energy, bravado and fun that is realised on screen is because everyone really is having a great time, even though the show is very hard graft at times, explains Lara.

"The turnaround between scenes is very fast and being physically aware really helped me learn and get into the fight sequences fast."

Lara remembers that, on one occasion, "Jonas [Robin Hood] and I were shackled together. We'd finished a really full-on fight sequence against Richard [Gisborne]. I loved the sequence because we all fought at breakneck speed.

"At the end of the first take Jonas was still really energised but said, 'Come on let's break for a while', and started to wander off – forgetting I was attached to him – and dragged me along the forest floor. It was really funny and just shows how everyone gave 150% and really got into it."

What was it like having Richard Armitage play your brother? ""Just brilliant," is Lara's unequivocal response. ""Richard even thinks we look like siblings and we worked so well together. He's one of the most humble, hard working and patient men I know.

"It's long hours on set and we'd get to the end of the day and then get together and run lines and throw ideas at each other and it would all come together. It doesn't get better.

"Robin Hood is a gem for a first television job: I worked with a generous and friendly creative team in a beautiful country and making a sensational television show."

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