Although he’s starred in all three instalments of comedy adventure film Kingsman (the next is due out next year), the Welshman says when he decided to become an actor, action roles never crossed his mind.
“I don’t think I scream action hero,” he tells Sky News.
“I certainly enjoy it, but it’s very hard work, and I often think it can be more fun to watch than it is to do, just in the sense that it can be quite gruelling and physical.
“For me I have to alter my body shape because I don’t keep myself in incredible shape all year round. Not that I’m in incredible shape now, but I’m okay.”
Speaking about his latest role as Robin Hood, the 29-year-old explains that “there was a bit of gym time”, before reassessing: “Well, a lot of gym time, actually.”
Egerton bagged the part in the latest retelling of the mythical outlaw hero thanks to his casting as secret agent “Eggsy” Unwin in Kingsman.
“When they were considering people, they needed someone who had some experience of being physical as it’s a very physical role,” he says.
“I certainly felt that walking into this I had had some experience of action and stunt work, and it served me well… I’ve done my thousand hours of that now.”
Action and stunts form a large part of the film, with director Otto Bathurst telling Sky News that the movie strives to “drag the Robin Hood myth into the 21st century”.
Bathurst warns fans: “If you’re going along to watch a traditional, classic Men In Tights version of Robin Hood you’re going to be very disappointed.
“It’s historically inaccurate, the clothes and set design are crazy. The point of it is to make a version of the movie that wakes you up and also make a movie that hopefully people relate to.”
Like Egerton, he admits it wasn’t all fun and games.
“We were in Hungary in the middle of winter and it’s tough,” Bathurst says.
“Making that kind of movie, it looks fun but actually you’ve got horses, you’ve got bows and arrows, you’ve got stuff going on, and it’s a lot of moving pieces and you’re always pushing the budget to the max and you’re always stretched.”
Jamie Foxx plays Little John in the film, alongside Egerton’s Robin, and Bathurst credits the two with “creating a real chemistry” which “brought that dynamic alive”.
Egerton believes Foxx is “one of the really exciting components (of the film), for me”.
“Having had a couple of other on-screen mentors (in the form of Colin Firth and Hugh Jackman, both from the Kingsman franchise) they’re hard acts to follow,” he says.
“But I knew that Jamie and I would work well together.”
And the pair got on well off set as well as on.
“One night we got on the mic in a club and I was not as cool as he was. I think there may even be video evidence… I’m not going to be able to bring myself to watch it,” he laughs.
The film has been retold multiple times, with Robin Hood most notably portrayed by Errol Flynn (1938), Kevin Costner (1991) and Russell Crowe (2010).
But Bathurst says now is a timely moment for a remake.
“No matter what era we’re in, there’s always oppression, there’s always governments or religions that are corrupting and oppressing people, and so there’s always a call for anybody who’s going to stand up and say no against that, stand up for truth.
“In the 21st century we need that more than ever.”
Bathurst also says a modern-day Robin Hood would be using Instagram and Twitter to rally his followers.
“Imagine in the 13th century if you’re trying to create a revolution, trying to create a buzz and trying to rally the troops, it’s pretty hard,” the director says.
“You can’t tweet: ‘Come on guys let’s go and rob the rich! Let’s burn down the church!’
“Whereas now, we’ve seen it in history over the last five, 10, 15 years, we’ve seen individuals cause major ripples in international governments, across religions, across all kinds of world issues.”
Having only joined Instagram a week earlier, Egerton is not so sure.
“It’s not very covert is it!” he says.
However, he seems to be enjoying his own foray into social media.
“It just seems to be the language now and everyone uses it, it’s a great tool,” he says.
“It’s a business tool and that’s how the world goes now in terms of marketing stuff. The reason it works is because it’s personal and you’re seeing something of the reality of someone’s life.”
He’s certainly using it to effect despite his novice status.
Earlier this month, speculation over Egerton’s sexuality was rife after he posted a photo of a male friend with the caption “Cutie. My boy” followed by a heart emoji.
He then “liked” a fan’s comment asking: “Does that mean he’s got a boyfriend now?”
The actor had recently split with his producer girlfriend of two years, Emily Thomas.
Egerton has since clarified, telling Radio Times: “One of the lads was at my London flat and I Instagrammed a picture of him… I’m not gay but two of my mates came out when I was 15 and it was a joy to support them because, as a group, we are all secure in who we are.”
He went on: “I’m certainly not going to stop calling my mates cuties and gorgeous, because they are cuties and they are gorgeous.”
Away from speculation about Egerton’s sexuality and back to the film; despite it being male-led, Bathurst says it is actually a woman blazing the trail.
“Marian’s doing the Robin Hood stuff way before Robin Hood turns up, which I love,” he says. “She’s actually the DNA of the whole story, she’s the one who shows him, ‘Get out of your selfish, revengeful space and see what’s going on for everybody else here. See the big picture. Wake up and smell the coffee’.
“Maid Marian’s always been the damsel in distress and I felt really strongly that it’s Robin of Loxley plus Maid Marian equals Robin Hood. Without Marian there is no Robin Hood.”
So despite it being a tale about a band of merry men fighting for justice at all costs, it seems a woman is in the driving seat.
A very modern outlook for a 13th century hero.
:: Robin Hood is in cinemas now.
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