The 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves had all the ingredients for a well-received film. It brought together a star-studded cast that included Kevin Costner, Morgan Freeman, Christian Slater, and Alan Rickman. It had an original score by Michael Kamen, a veteran composer of action films, and arguably one of Bryan Adams's best songs. And it told a story that many audiences were already familiar with and loved.
The film was ultimately met with lukewarm reviews, but its box office success say otherwise; it was the second highest-grossing film of 1991. The movie garnered legions of fans, most of who claim the film is a sort of guilty pleasure. What fans of the movie might not know, however, is that the making of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves was full of drama that rivaled what would eventually appear on screen. Like other major Hollywood productions – and another Kevin Costner film, Waterworld – rivalries, bickering, and financial woes led to tension and frustration on the set of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
Alan Rickman turned down the role of the Sheriff of Nottingham twice, and only agreed to be in the film if he could make the character his own. Once Rickman agreed to play the Sheriff, he set his sights on revamping the script. He thought Pen Densham and John Watson's screenplay was "terrible" and worked with two friends, Ruby Wax and Peter Barnes, to add quips and wit to his character.
The group met in a Pizza Express one afternoon and came up with now-classic scenes, like the one where the Sheriff walks down the hall, spots two wenches and says ,"You. My room. 10:30 tonight... [to another wench] You. 10:45... And bring a friend." The director, Kevin Reynolds, went along with the changes.
In the Prince of Thieves DVD commentary, Kevin Costner talked about how he ended up getting hurt during the shoot. When Costner – AKA Robin Hood – was riding a horse with co-stars Morgan Freeman and Walter Sparrow (Azeem and Duncan, respectively), they were supposed to come to an abrupt halt. As Costner pulled back the reins of his horse, it reared up and flung its head back, breaking Costner's nose. To his credit, Costner didn't stop the production or even the scene, carrying on as though nothing happened.
At one point during production, Kevin Costner was approached by one of the stuntmen on the movie. He asked the star if he wanted to look for mushrooms. When Costner asked what kind of mushrooms, the stuntman responded, "The good kind."
The two men went on a hunt – in costume – around the pseudo-Sherwood Forest. Once Costner realized he had sword-fighting scenes coming up, he abandoned the search. The film was almost delayed on account of their adventure, but Costner confessed to finding some after they had wrapped for the day.
According to fans, Alan Rickman as the Sheriff of Nottingham was one of the saving graces of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Allegedly, Kevin Costner sensed this, and as a result, he supposedly had some of Rickman's scenes cut.
When the film was edited for release, it was trimmed to include more Costner and less Rickman, in spite of test audience approval of the earlier version. Producers, including Costner, supposedly locked the film's editor, Peter Boyle, out of the editing room to carry out the task.
Costner later said he was grateful for Rickman "stealing the movie," but at the time, it caused major friction with the film's director, Kevin Reynolds. Reynolds walked away from the production just a few weeks before it was released. The rift between former friends Costner and Reynolds didn't last long, however. They worked together again on the 1995 release Waterworld.