Robin Dunne has a full-time gig on the hit Syfy series Sanctuary playing forensic psychologist Will Zimmerman. Between seasons, Robin keeps right on working as the new Syfy Movie Beyond Sherwood Forest will attest to. Airing November 28th at 9:00 PM, Beyond Sherwood Forest introduces a supernatural element into the classic story of Robin Hood by way of a dragon. However, not all is as it seems.
A few days ago I had the pleasure of speaking to Robin via phone about playing the legendary Robin Hood. His enthusiasm for the project and the role was readily apparent as we spoke, although his ever-present humor was never far behind.
“What a fun film that was for me to do and not just because there was one name to remember. It’s such an iconic character so when the project came about I said ‘absolutely’. It’s an iconic character and one that I’ve always wanted to play. My friend Peter DeLuise, who has directed a couple of [episodes of Sanctuary], was on board so it just seemed like a great project to do. And it was a lot of fun. What a great cast I was able to work with as well, Julian Sands, Erica Durance, Richard de Klerk…it was just a really nice cast and I’m really proud of that.”
Additional to the actors mentioned above, the movie also features David Palffy, David Richmond-Peck, Cainan Wiebe, Bill Dow as well as a few other faces that will probably be familiar to viewers. I pointed out that one of the cool things watching this movie was seeing who was going to show up next. Robin pointed out that includes the characters each actor portrays.
“It’s not only the character of Robin Hood that’s iconic, what’s great about this movie is all the characters are so iconic. Everybody gets to really sink their teeth into an amazing part.”
Obviously, given the setting of Sherwood Forest, the movie was shot in a heavily wooded area. Given the cast and director, I wondered if this was shot in Vancouver, B.C.
“Yeah, we shot it in Vancouver. A very rainy, very cold October-November Vancouver. We were in forests, as you should be when shooting Robin Hood, and on the set out there it just looked like medieval times with the muck we were in all day. One of the funny things about the movie was everyday I would go through these different hurdles of meeting people who would heap more stuff on me. They’d put the wardrobe on me, which was kind of heavy and perpetually damp and they they would hang the bow and quiver, then the sword and the belt and everything else. My first hour of the day I would just get perpetually heavier and heavier as I went along. The scenes where you see of me running through the forest, I literally sound like some sort of deranged Christmas tree jangling through the forest. I’m sure the sound guys hated it when they saw me coming because there were all these different things on me.”
Considering the amount of swordplay Robin has to do in Beyond Sherwood Forest along with needing to shoot a bow and arrow, obviously, I asked him if he’d had any previous weapons training.
“Not really, and I’m kind of ashamed to admit that I did the typical actor thing when asked if I knew any archery I was like ‘Oh yeah, totally, I can do that, no problem’. Then cut to the very first day on set, I’m standing there, seventy-five crew members just standing around watching me trying to fire a bow and arrow. The producers are just looking at me and I can tell they’re thinking, ‘We’ve hired this guy to play Robin Hood and he cannot fire a bow and arrow?!? What have we done???’ Then, to make it even more difficult, the next day I had to fire not only one, but three in quick succession. And then the next scene, if that wasn’t hard enough, they lit them on fire! It was crazy, but thankfully I managed to get it quickly enough. I probably should have shown up with a little bit more training, but I did manage to get it and managed not to put anyone’s eye out or shoot anyone accidentally. There were no injuries that I know of on set, which was good.”
Speaking about the added supernatural elements, Robin said, “What I find interesting on this take on it is I really like when you take characters from history and literature and put the stories on their ear by adding a sci-fi element to it. So, the story is familiar, we feel like we know these characters, but we’ve not really seen them in these types of situations before, which I thought was interesting about this script. What I like about working in the sci-fi genre is that the scope is so wide. I guess normally you wouldn’t really think of Robin Hood as typical sci-fi fare, but it really is and I think this movie really shows that sci-fi can be more than things in space.”
I had to apologize to Robin as after seeing the outtakes from the Sanctuary season one DVD set where he and Amanda Tapping playfully pretend to be a couple from Kent, complete with outrageous British accents, I laughed a little when he first spoke in this movie with a British accent.
“Those outtakes were from a Peter DeLuise directed episode, coincidentally enough and I think you can actually hear him in the background shouting things out to us. I have to admit, I vaguely know where Kent is in England. I don’t know that people from Kent speak that way so anyone from Kent I just want to issue an apology if that’s not how they speak. It’s kind of weird when you have Julian [Sands] on set, who is an Englishman, coming in and I’m not only playing such an iconic character, particularly for his country, but I have to come in and do an accent that is English. We had some sword fighting rehearsals before we started shooting and I pulled him aside and sheepishly said to him, ‘Listen, I’m not egotistical about this at all. If you hear the accent and you think it sounds bloody awful then please tell me because I don’t want to go through this whole movie sounding like I don’t know what I’m doing.’ Fair play to him, he was actually really quite nice about it. He said, ‘No, you’re right on.’ It’s nerve-wracking to do an accent, but particularly around someone who is of that nationality.”
The other subject we hit on was the recent controversial World Cup Play-Off Football (Soccer in the US) match between the Republic of Ireland and France, which you can read about here. Basically, the winning goal by France is heavily contested with many, including the captains of both teams, feeling that the game should be replayed in the interest of fairness, a request that FIFA has denied. Ireland is Robin’s favorite football club, so he quite naturally has particularly strong feelings on the outcome and the FIFA ruling.
“Ireland’s soccer team is one of the few things I’m very passionate about in life, ok? I found a pub here in Los Angeles that plays all the Ireland games and I want to tell you that I was so devastated by the result and since then I have spent the time…this morning I was speaking to someone in Switzerland at FIFA, I’ve been faxing and speaking to people at the French embassies in both Canada and the US. I am so disgusted by the result. Now look, the team can lose, but Thierry Henry literally palmed that ball and put it into the net and that’s just not right. I think FIFA should show that they’re a fair organization and not bring the entire sport into disrepute. Just replay it. There has been a precedent set before. I’m a member of a Facebook page that’s now over 300,000 members strong just trying to get it rectified. I think there’s something going on between FIFA and the French Football Association that’s not going to let it happen, but it just brings disgrace upon the game. I’m so passionate about this, I could literally talk to you for the next four hours about this!”
Finally, we got around to Robin also stating his excitement for the rest of the season two episodes of Sanctuary.
“The second half of the season is coming up and it’s really ramping up, things are getting pretty hairy at the Sanctuary. We always love feedback from the fans so everyone let us know what you think.”
Thank you to Robin Dunne for taking the time to talk to me. ‘Beyond Sherwood Forest’ premieres on Syfy Saturday, November 28th at 9:00PM.