Taron Egerton is the new Robin Hood

Taron Egerton made his name in the Kingsman films as sharp-suited spy Eggsy but he tells Around Town why he’s taking a break from the series, the unexpected downside of playing Elton John and why he was excited to make a new version of Robin Hood.

Taron Egerton is bent over rummaging through the fridge in the corner of his hotel room.

He eventually pops his head up, brandishing an artfully-designed frosted glass bottle.

“Coconut water! That is what people drink, isn’t it?” he says, with a raised eyebrow.

“I feel like when you are wearing a hat like this you can drink coconut water.”

Indeed he is wearing quite the hat, a broad brimmed black number, perched on top of his newly-shaven head.

The change to his appearance is still fresh and he is still feeling self-conscious about it.

“I just finished the Elton John thing and I had this awful hair so I shaved it cos they had thinned it right out and given me this bald patch.

“It was very cathartic getting rid of it and also, not to put a downer on things, I split up with my girlfriend not long ago and it weirdly felt a bit like reinvention.

“It felt quite empowering to change the way I look.”

The “Elton John thing” he is referring to is Rocket Man, a biopic about the singer that has been a long time in the works and initially had Tom Hardy attached to play the superstar.

In the film he plays the man in question, thinning hair and all.

“It’s not the one,” he sighs, ruefully. “Especially when you’re single and ready to mingle.”

Luckily his haircut is much more palatable in his latest film Robin Hood, a pacy telling of the famous story, this time painting Robin as a haunted veteran, as well as a modern fighter.

“None of us wanted to make a Robin Hood movie that people have seen before,” he says.

“There’s no mullets. I liked the idea of doing a version of a very famous hero but giving him some real vulnerability and wobbliness and they are the things that I find really interesting.

“Someone who is not coping is far more emotionally affecting than Superman, who does it all perfectly unless there is a bit of green rock.”

The role also gave Egerton a chance to become a dab hand with a bow and arrow. Could he rival Hunger Games star Jennifer Lawrence?

“I’m not sure if I picked it up now I would be as good as I was 18 months or two years ago. I think it’s one of those things that probably requires a certain amount of doing it every day.

“But she’s been out of it even longer, so maybe.”

“I read Hunger Games a few years ago, in my 20s,” he adds.

“I found them page turners but I wouldn’t describe them as having an abundance of substance.”

He pauses for a second. “Listen to me, the literary critic. Far be it from me to criticise, I couldn’t write a book to save my life.”

And this is what is is like to spend time with 29-year-old Egerton, who is a pleasingly animated, sweary and enthusiastic companion, who changes subjects at the drop of a hat and talks a mile a minute, especially on the subject of books for young people.

“His Dark Materials is basically an adult book that was palatable for children. It’s still the most amazing book I’ve ever read,” he says.

“I’ve never been so profoundly affected as I was when I read that when I was 11 or 12. It really shook my world.”

He’s now desperate for a part in the BBC series that is in production at the moment, and has been badgering his Robin Hood director Otto Bathurst for a part (he directed some of the episodes).

“I said to him yesterday, ‘Let me come and voice a daemon please’.

“I would love to do it. I’m not old enough for the interesting male roles and I’m too old for Will, but you can be whatever you want when you’re a daemon.”

And it’s not the first time he’s chased after a part he has wanted, it turns out.

“They just made Watership Down and it was all cast by the time I heard about it so I elbowed my way in. I called the casting director and I was like ‘Reg, what are you doing mate? Why am I not a rabbit?’

“So I am the prince of rabbits, which sounds pretty cool actually.”

That casting director he’s referring to is Reg Poerscout-Edgerton, who gave Egerton his big break in the first Kingsman film in 2014.

The role of spy-in-training Eggsy catapulted Aberystwyth boy Egerton to stardom, so it has come as a shock to some fans that he won’t be in the upcoming third instalment.

He’s not sad about it though – he’s ready to take a break.

“The next one is set 100 years ago, it’s a prequel, so it makes sense I’m not in it. But that doesn’t mean I won’t do another one. It just means it won’t be the next one you see. I think it will do us good to take a step back for a little while and re-evaluate it and come back to it with fresh eyes.

“They really are super, super intense to make, those films, as much as I love it.

“It takes it out of me and the last one I finished in mid-2016 and I am still not quite ready to make another one.

“It damn near killed me actually and I don’t say that lightly. I think in a year, a year and a half, I will be ready to put the suit back on.

“I would like to do another one. I would like to close it up but I would like to see it more based in the UK.”

Regardless, sequel The Golden Circle gave him a chance to work with Sir Elton John, who has a cameo, long before he ended up playing him.

“I actually emailed my agency a few years ago and said, ‘Is Tom really going to do this because if not, I would really like to throw my name into the ring.’

“But they said, ‘No, he is going to do it’ so I put that to bed. But then Elton was in Kingsman 2 and one day Matthew said, ‘I think they are feeling a bit like it’s now a stretch for Tom to play someone who is 18. How do you feel about it?’

“I was like, are you joking?’ That was in early 2016 but it took a couple of years to get going and we just wrapped.

“It was a long journey but it’s been phenomenally rewarding.”
Worth wearing a hat for, by the sounds of it.

Robin Hood is released in UK cinemas on November 21st.