Taron Egerton melted hearts — and kicked some ass — in his breakout role as the fresh-faced secret service agent Eggsy in the first Kingsman flick. To the movie’s fans, he seemed right at home shooting umbrella guns alongside Colin Firth, but like anything in Hollywood, it wasn’t quite as it seemed. The actor, who has created something of a budding action career thanks to his starring role in the newest Robin Hood, went into it with slight trepidation.
“The first time I did Kingsman it was a real shock to the system,” Egerton told EW. “I’d never done anything like that before, I didn’t come from a sports background. I just was the most unlikely action hero. Now it’s been a little bit easier because I’ve known what I was facing.”
The actor went (practically) straight from wrapping the Kingsman sequel to pre-production on Robin Hood, which hits theaters on Nov. 21. He flew to Budapest ahead of filming to spend three months doing archery training, which resulted in more than a few battle wounds.
“I trained to the point where my fingers were bleeding and I had lines of bruising up my forearm,” he said. “And then I ended up not really doing any archery in the film at all because it’s not safe. What you see in the movie, the style of archery is real — it was taught to me by a guy called Lars Anderson — and we did use real arrows, but we just couldn’t actually fire them.”
The newest Robin Hood is just the latest in a long history of movies and TV shows about the notorious thief-with-a-heart-of-gold, but it’s been revamped to be a bit bolder, darker, and certainly more fashion-forward (Egerton’s character drops the feathered hat and tights in favor of a black hoodie). Otto Bathurst, most famous for Peaky Blinders, directs Egerton alongside Jamie Foxx as Little John, Ben Mendelsohn as the Sheriff of Nottingham, and Eve Hewson as Marion. Jamie Dornan also appears as Will Scarlet, in case you worried that wasn’t quite enough eye candy for visually-discerning audiences.
Even though Egerton is a far more seasoned action hero than he was at the beginning of his career, the movie presented a fair amount of challenges — particularly involving the brutal Hungarian winters.
“There was a scene where Jamie and I had to get out of the sea about 40 times in one night in February,” said the actor with a laugh. “It was freezing and I hated shooting it. And then it got cut from the film.”
[Editor’s note: Lionsgate, if you’re listening, we think some audiences might like to see that footage.]
As successful as his fight scenes have been for his career, Egerton is taking a bit of a departure in his next role — as practically the entire Internet will inform you, he’ll be playing Elton John in the upcoming biopic Rocketman. And, yes, that casting explains the real question on the minds of all his fans: What happened to his hair? Egerton shaved his head to play the iconic singer, which is precisely why he’s been sporting plenty of hats as of late.
“I think I would like to get my hair a little bit longer before I stop [wearing hats],” Egerton joked. “I quite like having the shaved head, though, it’s a healthy opportunity to be bold and fashion-forward, so I’m embracing it.”