I Dreamed of Riding with Alexander the Great. Hollywood Made It Real; How History Professor Robin Came to Saddle Up Thanks to Oliver Stone

Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland), January 4, 2005 | Go to article overview

I Dreamed of Riding with Alexander the Great. Hollywood Made It Real; How History Professor Robin Came to Saddle Up Thanks to Oliver Stone


Byline: By Pat Clarke

WHEN Colin Farrell led the Ancient Greeks into battle in Alexander, Oliver Stone's $150million epic, one of his cavalry officers was someone who'd never made a film before.

He knew next to nothing about movie-making and had absolutely no idea who Oliver Stone, the Oscar-winning director of Platoon, was.

And the last time he enjoyed a film was when he watched a golden oldie from 65 years ago.

So how Robin Lane Fox came to saddle up alongside stars such as Colin Farrell and Jared Leto in this sprawling version of the story of Alexander The Great is like something out of a Hollywood script.

Because this novice rubbing shoulders with Hollywood stars on the fringes of the Sahara was actually an Oxford professor of ancient history. Robin had a special interest in Alexander The Great because 30 years earlier he had written an acclaimed biography of the man who had conquered most of the known world by the time he was 32.

But he had absolutely no interest in the movie world and was puzzled when, during a tutorial at Oxford in which he was discussing a treaty between Ancient Sparta and Ancient Persia in 407 BC, he was told that Oliver Stone wanted to talk with him about Alexander. 'I had never heard of him,' said Robin.

'When I went for lunch with my colleagues, I said I was going to London to talk about the history of Alexander The Great with a man called Oliver Stone.

'There was a dead silence and someone said: 'You can't. Oliver changes history. He's like Satan.' 'Well, three years later, like the English poet John Milton, I have to tell you that I am extremely fond of Satan,' said Robin.

The academic met the film director in London for what was supposed to be a 20-minute meeting.

'It lasted six hours, and he bombarded me with questions,' said Robin.

'At the end of a long day, holding my book which he had gone through in detail, Stone said: 'What do you want out of all this?' ' When Hollywood directors make that kind of offer, they expect to hear that one per cent of the profits is the price.

But Robin wasn't interested in cash. He wanted to act out a dream, to have a chunk of the glory involved in the filming of Alexander's famous victory at Gaugamela.

Robin said: 'I told him I wanted two things. I wanted to ride in the first 10 of every cavalry charge filmed with Alexander's Macedonians. And I wanted my name in the credits to be preceded by the words 'and introducing'. I think Oliver was taken aback. He said that 'and introducing' was a legal problem that he'd never get.

'But in England the BBC have given it to me instead.They have made a film called Charging For Alexander in which they said 'introducing Robin Lane Lox with Colin Farrell'.'

But Stone was as good as his word. When he hired Robin as historical advisor, he gave the keen horseman his cavalry charge.

Robin said: 'He didn't exactly offer it. But he saw I could do it, so at the beginning of the week he said: 'Right Robin, it's your turn now. …

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