Russell Crowe and his band of outlaws invade Welsh beach

by A rider plunges urgently through the surf on a Pembrokeshire beach, astride a white steed. Just returned from the Holy Land, the warrior is preparing for another battle, this time on home territory.

This is Russell Crowe in his latest screen incarnation as legendary outlaw Robin Hood – and as the images show the tough-guy actor is back to his action-hero best.

Watching film fans got a bird's eye view when the Australian actor and a crew of over 800, plus 130 horses, took over Freshwater West to shoot a major battle scene for the Ridley Scott-directed movie.

"The horses riding down the beach caused a bit of a stir. They were galloping through the surf, it looked pretty impressive," said one onlooker.

“They seemed to be rehearsing or exercising or something. It looks like they are going to do a piece where Russell Crowe might land on the beach because they’ve built (a huge) ship."

There were more thrills when, the leading man, still dressed in full Crusader uniform with a sword at his belt, strode down across the sand, with a macho attitude and showing off a muscular physique on a par with that which won him a worldwide following in Gladiator.

Until a few months ago the 45–year-old had been carrying several extra pounds put on for his role in State Of Play as an old-school news reporter uncovering corruption in Washington.

Locals have been agog with excitement ever since thatched huts were erected on the headland overlooking the award-winning beach last week, and rumours were circulating that Russell had insisted on making daily helicopter flights from his base in Windsor to the set.

While casting began in May for extras to join the hunk and his co-star Cate Blanchett - in the role of Maid Marian – in filming, one young Brit is already assured of his place on set.

Seven-year-old Jack Downham is to play a young Robin Hood after attending two auditions which, at the time, he didn't realise were for such a prestigious role.

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