“An Open Letter to Kevin Costner Concerning Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves,” by Emily Linstrom

Apr 3rd, 2019 | By | Category: Nonfiction, Prose

June 14, 2018

Dear Kevin of Locksley,

It’s come to my attention that today marks the 27th birthday of the US release of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Man, time flies like a 300-frames-per-second arrow through an autumnal forest, huh? One of my fondest childhood memories is of sitting in the movie theater with my neighbor and her mom while those Bayeux Tapestry opening credits unfurled to Michael Kamen’s blood-stirring score. And unlike so many 90’s kids who have since broken their allegiance to RH:POT, I remain a devout fan. (Fun fact: I won the role of Maid Marian in my South Carolina middle school production of Robin Hood because the maid I was understudying for had to back out. Kismet, Kevin, kismet.)

I know you took a ton of flack for your title role—like, whoa. They rained hellfire on your Medieval-American accent, which was clearly a nod to Christian Slater’s identical accent because duh, Will Scarlet was your little brother from a different mother. You were mocked for your flaxen mullet, which apparently only the most discerning student of history understood the underlying symbolism of. 12th century feudal England was nothing if not a business-in-the-front-party-in-the-back type deal, and you found a way to communicate that. Subtlety, I’ve always liked that about you. And when the time came for final edits, you noped the task out from under original editor Peter Boyle, forever preserving RH: POT in the Costner amber.

In all fairness, the tale of Robin Hood is deceptively tough material to sell. I know, because Hollywood just keeps trying to sell it. Every Robin in the book has been thrown at us, from a dapper I-say-old-chap-are-those-my-green-tights? Errol Flynn to Kiwi gladiator Russell Crowe. But you were just the right fusion of wearied Crusader and whimsical waterfall skinny dipper, a sedated Paul Revere calling bullshit on English tyranny some 500+ years before the first tea bag went kerplunk in the harbor.

Traditional Persian carpetmakers deliberately weave a flaw into their final masterpiece, believing that only Allah holds the exclusive rights to perfection. That was you in RH:POT, Kevin. In life one occasionally has to be the Persian Flaw that keeps a thing from soaring too close to the sun—namely in bands and relationships, but sometimes the odd multi-million-dollar star vehicle.

I’ve read that you were a tad intimidated by your costar Alan Rickman, whose Sheriff of Nottingham admittedly upstaged everything within a square mile of wherever he planted his boot. Here’s the thing, everybody has an Alan in their life. You know, that one person who’s just so extra, and bests you at every turn with their talent and charisma and ready quips. However, I’ve got some behind-the-scenes trivia up my sleeve. I know that at one point your horse malfunctioned and actually broke your nose during a scene and you just kept filming. You did that for us, Kevin. You didn’t have to, but you did.

Rest assured, you were bolstered by a stellar cast, and any thespian blemishes on your part were ultimately buffered to an alchemical shine. Morgan Freeman’s Azeem was the quintessential sidekick: wise, courageous, and proof that a black man has to deliver a white baby, fight his Sadiq’s battles, and hurl a scimitar into a satanic Junk Lady from Labyrinth witch to get a hole punched in his Anglo Acceptance Club (AAC) card. Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio’s Maid Marian pulled off a lovely bit of dagger-wielding-badass-turned-inexplicable-damsel-in-distress tightrope work. Actually, I was surprised to learn that Mastrantonio is American like you…I mean, she managed to pull off a pretty impeccable British accent. (However, I wasn’t surprised to find out she’s also of Italian descent. As someone who lives in Italy, I can tell you that your introductory brawl with Marian at her manse is pretty much how Italian couples fight.) And last but far from least, there was THE Michael Wincott, he of supreme raspy-voiced 90s and early aughts villainy. (Fun Fact #2: I on-again-off-again dated hooked up with a guy who was a dead ringer for Guy of Gisborne. I was working through some stuff.)

I could go on, but my point is, RH:POT is one of those movies everybody rips on but seldom passes up the opportunity to revisit. I don’t know about you, but I actually like to, I dunno, enjoy my movies. I don’t really go in for viewer punishment, which is why Last of the Mohicans is my Godfather and Brotherhood of the Wolf is my Godfather II and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is my Godfather III. What can I say? I’ve got mad love for Instagram filter-friendly history and epic fight scenes and sweeping soundtracks and pretty people with impeccable teeth in period costumes. RH:POT has all of that and then some—like, a denim clad Bryan Adams doing his (Everything I Do) I Do It For You then some. Call me gauche, but I’ll take that any day over a cinematic reminder to refill my Xanax prescription.

I’m signing off now to go browse crossbows, maybe make a George Michael Bluth-esque video of myself smashing around in the garage. I’ll let you know when it’s up.


Emily Linstrom

PS—Oh, and Sean Connery as King Richard WUT? Please and thank you. And if it makes you feel better, the real-life Lionheart was kind of whatev about England, and what’s more preferred his French mother’s dialect over a Scottish brogue. I’m sure you took your cues from 007’s creative liberties. 


Emily Linstrom is an American writer and artist currently residing in Italy. Her work has been featured in a number of publications including Three Rooms Press, Nailed Magazine, A Women’s Thing, The Wisdom Daily, and Carve Magazine. She was the first prize recipient of Pulp Literature Press’s 2015 The Raven short story contest, and is a regular contributor for Sabat Magazine, The Outsider, and Quail Bell Magazine. You can view her work at: www.emilylinstrom.com and follow her adventures on Instagram at betterlatethan_em 

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