Robin Hood's Taron Egerton: In a year I'll be ready to put the Kingsman suit back on
Taron Egerton made his name in the Kingsman films as sharp-suited spy Eggsy but he tells Laura Harding 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" 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 Egerton plays the man in question, thinning hair and all.
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. There's no mullets," he says, referencing Kevin Costner's 1991 take on the legend. "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."
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."
Twenty-nine-year-old Egerton 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.
"[Philip Pullman's] 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 adaptation of the Pullman trilogy 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 the f*** 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 the f*** 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 Birkenhead-born 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 reevaluate 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."
:: Robin Hood is in cinemas now.