The TV Watercooler had the opportunity to chat with Robyn Hood stars Nykeem Provo (who plays John Little), Ksenia Daniela Kharmalova (Much), and Idrissa Sanogo Bamba (Alan A. Dale) at Fan Expo last week.
The new Canadian series is set to premiere on Wednesday, September 27, on Global TV stars Jessye Romeo (Pennyworth) and is a modernized re-imagining of the classic legend where Robyn, a young activist and rapper, and her anti-authoritarian masked hip-hop band battle the corrupt elite in the fictional city of New Nottingham.
The cast members discuss how much they knew about the legend before joining the series, what they enjoyed the most while filming the show, and address some of the controversy surrounding the series.
How familiar were you all with the Robin Hood legend before joining the series?
Nykeem Provo: I grew up watching Robin Hood as a kid in the ‘90s.
Ksenia Daniela Kharlamova: Same [as a kid]. I like there’s a satire version, and then also a funny version. And then there’s the animated one.
With the Fox!
Ksenia: Yeah, the Fox!
Idrissa Sanogo Bamba: I remember watching a couple as well, including the one with the Fox. I wasn’t crazy familiar, but I do remember seeing a couple.
What can you tell us about your characters?
Nykeem: Little John in every interaction is a protector. He’s definitely taken that on in our version. It gets a little deeper!
Right because Little John and Robin Hood have never been romantically teased…
Nykeem: Robin’s never been a woman before! LJ has his eyes on Robyn. That’s a very unique, and cool aspect of our series.
What can you tell us about Much?
Ksenia: I think she’s supposed to be one of the youngest in the crew. Technically, it’s Much and Alan who are the two youngest. She’s a super badass mechanic. She’s awesome. She’s very close to Robyn. It’s the same camaraderie as in the original folktales, so she confides a lot in her, but also in LJ.
It’s really interesting. LJ and Much have an almost sibling-type of relationship on the show. It was really cool to explore that.
I love her! She’s a badass!
What can you tell us about Alan?
Idrissa: Alan is a cool guy, man. He knows a lot of people. He has a passion for the band. He acts as their manager and edits their music videos.
I kind of see him as the light of the group, in a way. He’s the comic relief. He has great banter with everyone. But he can also be annoying sometimes! He’s that kind of person.
Nykeem: [Laughs] Very.
We’ll get to see one of the music videos in the pilot. What was it like being directed in a music video by Director X?
Idrissa: That was cool! I look back and it’s just one of those moments where you go, “Is this really happening right now?” I’m no rapper…
Nykeem: Weren’t you guys up until like six in the morning on a rooftop?
Ksenia: Yeah! The music videos were serious. But they were also one of my favourite aspects of the show. They were just so fun to film because we improved all the moves, and dancing. So, it was really on the spot, and it felt very free and collaborative. It was awesome.
What’s your favourite music video by Director X?
Nykeem: I have one! I watched it when I was nine and thought, “That could be me!” It was “Black Widow” by Iggy Azalea and Rita Ora. They were very Kill Bill-esq. I loved that one.
Ksenia: From back in the day, Sean Paul’s “Get Busy.” That was insane!
Some people are upset that this version of Robin Hood is a woman and not white. A lot of genre shows have been led by women, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer. We’ve seen so many strong female characters in the Star Trek franchise. There’s even the Canadian series Orphan Black. It’s baffling coming here to Fan Expo where there are so many shows or movies with strong female characters and yet there’s this online backlash to Robyn Hood.
Ksenia: Robin being a woman, that aspect, to be honest, is something that people are always going to be a little bit mad about. But her not being white, we don’t even focus on it on the show. It’s not about race at all. Race has never been brought up on the show at all. It’s [a show] about class difference and gentrifying areas where people have nowhere else to go.
So yeah, it’s interesting that this is something that people focus on. There are so many renditions of Robin Hood and I think the one we’re doing isn’t taking away anything from the other ones. You can still go and enjoy all the other ones. If it’s not up your alley, then it’s not up your alley. I think everyone should give it a shot because the core values are still very much the same.
[The core values] are Robin Hood.
Idrissa: Talking about race specifically, but it’s been done before. Maybe not with Robin Hood specifically, but some of the other characters.
Nykeem: Right. Jamie Foxx played Little John [in the 2018 film starring Taron Egerton].
For us, we never paid attention to [any of] that while we were working on the show. We just focused on telling a great story. Again, race is never mentioned. We’re in 2023 and the world is super diverse now. This [show] is a representation of the world. I think when people see it, no matter what your race is, or what your ethnicity is, you’re going to relate to these characters.
We can take on the hate, but we’re not going to let it affect us. We’re going to embrace it.
Robyn Hood premieres on Wednesday, September 27, at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Global and will also stream on the Global TV app and on STACKTV.