EXCLUSIVE: Deadline has learned that a quartet of up-and-coming actresses from around the world are in the mix for Lionsgate’s Robin Hood: Origins. The Knick‘s Irish-born Eve Hewson is in the running along with Dutch actress Gaite Jansen (Supernova), Australian thesp Lucy Fry (Vampire Academy) and British actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Belle). The global approach to casting the female lead opposite Taron Egerton (Kingsman: The Secret Service) underscores the more authentic approach Lionsgate and director Otto Bathurst would like to take with their version of the iconic Sherwood Forest inhabitant.
No offers have been made yet, but the project is a priority for Lionsgate, which declined to comment when contacted by Deadline. Peaky Blinders‘ Bathurst is directing the gritty, revisionist take on the legend. Joby Harold, the scribe who wrote Knights Of The Roundtable: King Arthur with Guy Ritchie directing Charlie Hunnam, has conjured up the origins story that has been likened to The Dark Knight. Here, Robin Hood returns from fighting in The Crusades and finds that Sherwood Forest is rife with corruption and evil. He forms a band of outlaws and they take matters into their own hands. The picture is being produced by Appian Way’s Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson, and Safe House’s Harold and Tory Tunnell and Basil Iwanyk.
There are other Robin Hood projects also set up around town. Disney has the Brandon Barker spec Nottingham & Hood, which is said to be in the vein of Pirates Of The Caribbean and Enchanted. The Picture Company’s Alex Heineman and Andrew Rona are producing. Sony last fall bought a Robin Hood pitch for $1 million from Cory Goodman and Jeremy Lott with Jerry Bruckheimer producing and Aperture’s Adam Goldworm executive producing. That project, Hood, has been described as Fast And Furious meets Mission: Impossible. Warner Bros has also quietly put one of its own Robin Hood projects into development, scripted by Gangster Squad and Aquaman scribe Will Beall and produced by The Lego Movie‘s Dan Lin and John Zaozirny.
With the quartet of projects vying to get to the start post, Lionsgate is doing everything it can to get out of the gates first. It is aiming to start production in the first quarter of 2016. The last time there were rival Robin Hood projects was in 1991, when the Kevin Costner-starrer Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves went against the Patrick Bergin-Uma Thurman Robin Hood and wiped the floor with it despite being released a month later.
A potential scheduling wrinkle: Fox has an option on Egerton to reprise his star-making turn as a secret agent in the sequel to Matthew Vaughn’s Kingsman: The Secret Service it wants to start shooting next spring — that still needs to be ironed out.
But this project looks like it’s gathering momentum.