“It’s not a competition”: Alan Rickman Came to Kevin Costner’s Defense After Listening to Claims of Outshining His Co-Star Despite Playing the Villain

This 1991 classic flick, starring Alan Rickman and Kevin Costner, is still relevant, entertaining, and inspirational over thirty years later.

“It’s not a competition”: Alan Rickman Came to Kevin Costner’s Defense After Listening to Claims of Outshining His Co-Star Despite Playing the Villain


  • Robin Hood, a classic English hero, was rebooted by Kevin Reynolds in 1991, starring Alan Rickman.
  • Rickman defended Costner’s performance from claims that the late actor's performance outshined the latter.
  • Despite numerous adaptations, Reynolds’ rendition remains highly entertaining and commendable.
Show More
Featured Video

We often see reboots of beloved movies, including Batman, James Bond, and a number of Disney releases in Tinseltown. It attempted the same thing with Robin Hood. Aiming to reinvent the traditional English hero for a contemporary audience, Kevin Reynolds’ tried his hand at doing so in 1991, starring Alan Rickman. 


Even though Robin Hood has been adapted for the big screen numerous times, Reynolds’ adaptation is still a commendable and highly entertaining one. At its core, the classic flick is an action-packed adventure with memorable characters and an inspirational story, underneath the drama that occurs behind the scenes.

Alan Rickman
Alan Rickman in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

Yes, things were very different behind the scenes. Rickman graciously defended his co-star Kevin Costner from baseless claims that the late actor’s performance outshined the Yellowstone star. 


The Remarkable Act of Alan Rickman Standing Up for Kevin Costner

Egos are frequently brittle and competition can be intense in the movie business. But one legendary actor, Alan Rickman, proved that not all actors see their roles as competition. 

During the filming of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, rumors spread that the late actor, who portrayed the villainous Sheriff of Nottingham, was better than his co-star Kevin Costner. The latter took on the role of the titular hero. A crew member even went so far as to say (via EW):

“Rickman’s acting Costner off the screen.”

Kevin Costner in a still from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
Kevin Costner in a still from Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

However, the Harry Potter actor was quick to shoot down these claims. Per the outlet, he stated:


“It’s not a competition. Kevin’s responsibility is very different. If I were playing Robin Hood, my responsibility would be to be as romantic and heroic as possible. It’s important that there is a lighter tone to what I am doing.”

While it is easy for actors to try to outdo one another, Rickman highlighted the fact that each role has a specific purpose in the overall story. But he did seem to take the ridiculousness of the script with a healthy dose of disdain. At last, the actor changed a few of his lines subtly with help from outsiders.

In a BAFTA interview, he recalled asking his friends for assistance with a script he was working on because he thought it was terrible. Rickman eventually recalled telling director Kevin Reynolds about the revised lines after making some adjustments.

How Alan Rickman Quietly Shaped the Script of His Movie

Without Alan Rickman, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves would have been a merely passable film. The actor has acknowledged going behind screenwriters’ backs and rewriting lines with his friends’ assistance for his Bafta-winning role in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

Alan Rickman in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Alan Rickman as Severus Snape in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

During an event honoring his career, the British actor revealed this script-revising story while speaking live on stage at the Bafta headquarters. While addressing the crowd on stage, he revealed that his friends Peter Barnes and Ruby Wax were really responsible for helping him with the “terrible” script. 

Based on Rickman’s account in The Times,  he met Barnes at a Pizza Express:

“I said, ‘Will you have a look at this script because it’s terrible, and I need some good lines.’ So he did, and, you know, with kind of pizza and bacon and egg going all over the script.”

Kevin Reynolds, the director, then surreptitiously added the edited lines. 


As critic Roger Ebert pointed out, Alan Rickman was praised for “stealing the movie” due to his performance in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Ebert thus duly gave the actor credit for turning the movie around on his own.  

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves can be rented on Apple TV.


Written by Siddhika Prajapati

Articles Published: 1644

Between everyday normalities and supernatural abnormalities, Siddhika Prajapati finds the story in everything. Literature Honors Graduate and Post-Graduated in Journalism (from Delhi University), her undying need to deduce the extraordinary out of simplicity makes her a vibrant storyteller.

Serving as a Senior Entertainment Writer at Fandom Wire and having written over 1600 pieces, Siddhika has also worked with multiple clients and projects over the years, including Indian Express, India Today, and Outlook Group.

Who knows, maybe your next favorite persona on the screen will be crafted by her.