Sgt. John Porter: a character our pacifist Richard didn’t think he wanted to play. But on a second look at the script, Richard saw a potential in the role that did not register initially. It would be a challenge to create a soldier who was believably tough and hard when need be, and yet had that humanity, that soft center that made him more than just a highly efficient killing machine. A flawed hero and a thoroughly admirable one in so many ways–the “better man” Richard would wish to be.
I would say RA certainly succeeded in reaching his goal. There are those who were unhappy with Richard’s decision to play this role, saying that it overlapped too much with another “action” role, that of Lucas North in Spooks.
I would argue that other than the fact Lucas was in MI5 and Porter, MI6, and both are of a heroic bent, the characters don’t bear much resemblance to one another. Lucas, a university graduate, is bookish, cerebral and enigmatic; Porter, with his working-class roots, doesn’t hold his cards quite so close to his vest. Their backgrounds and personalities are quite different.
As crafted by Richard, they are two very separate and distinct characters onscreen, each with his own particular strengths and weaknesses.
Porter wins us over with his tender love for his little girl, with his kindness to a terrified and traumatized Katie, with his willingness to not fly under the radar in the prison in order to save the boy from rape, and more. He is brave and resourceful, capable of great anger and also willing to forgive. He has a strong moral compass, this “good man sent by God.”
He’s a modern-day knight in khaki and camo who moves with a dancer’s grace. Porter is the sort of man we’d hope would arrive if we found ourselves in a terrible jam. He says, “Trust me.” And we do.
Some have objected to Richard appearing in Strike Back because he played a soldier and there is a certain amount of violence inherent in a military action drama. Yes, John Porter certainly knows his way around weapons. I found him exciting to watch in those action sequences, quite frankly (but then I do not have a problem with watching this type of story, as long as the violence is not highly gratuitous with bombs and bullets flying around every corner. Needless to say, SB:Project Dawn was SOOOO not my thing).
And yes, Porter is very sexy, and not just due to those impressive muscles Richard worked so hard to create. Porter’s chivalry, his good heart, his sweet flirtatiousness, his determination to do what is necessary to carry out his mission even at the possible cost of his life–all these things make him so very appealing to me. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that he looks so good in that khaki and camo and his dress uniform.
In Richard’s hands, John Porter is much, much more than another movie meathead with muscles and an AK-47. He has intelligence, a heart and a soul.
For me, he is yet another unforgettable Richard Armitage chaRActer and one of my personal favorites. John Portah, I salute you!