Nikolia's prison tattoos front and back. Look familiar?

"Know thy self." Lucas's Gnothi Seauton tattoo seems to be a fan favorite.

Lucas preparing to clean up in the MI5 washroom as Harry Pierce enters in Ep1, S7.

Lucas North’s tattoos. Souvenirs of his eight years in a Russian hellhole. Symbols that told a story. I have never cared much for tattoos, but I found Lucas’s ink fascinating, part of the mystery of the character.

Watching the 2007 movie Eastern Promises this afternoon, I was reminded of Lucas’s tattoos. Viggo Mortensen’s character, Nikolia, plays a driver for members of the Russian mob based in London. it’s an excellent film, violent but with some complex characterizations–everyone is not what they initially appear to be–and it held my attention firmly throughout (and not just because of the intense knife fight in a sauna between a naked Nikolai and two thugs.). Nikolai’s body is covered in tattoos. As one of the characters says, “If you don’t have the tattoos (in a Russian prison), you don’t exist.”
The stars and onion domes we saw on Lucas’s body could be seen on Nikolia’s body. Both of these man had endured horrors most of us can only imagine.

For Lucas, the tattoos covering his flesh were part of the price he had to pay to survive those eight long years of torture and deprivation. I had a lot of respect for that character. No one goes through something like that without it taking a toll mentally, physically, emotionally.

Richard brought this flawed and damaged hero to life in a way that deeply moved me. I am sure becoming Lucas also took a certain toll on him. I am thankful for the complexity, intelligence and integrity he brought to the table. Thank you, Richard. Your Lucas will always be a hero for me.

Lucas North: ‘Know Thyself’ To Stay Alive

24 responses »

  1. Beautiful, brave, haunted Lucas…another character Richard made me care so deeply about thanks to his amazingly layered performance.

    • And the character haunts me. What a waste ultimately to give him all those fascinating tattoos and never really explore his experiences in prison other than a few brief flashbacks. I know there were other actors, too, and limited number of eps, and budget constraints, and so forth–but there are so many ways I disagreed with what they did with that character. S7 remains my favorite.

  2. No offence to Mr. Mortensen but I think RA wins the “who’s got the better torso” contest hands down…Btw, am I the only one who thinks RA would have made a great Aragorn? Again, nothing against V.M…

    • Oh, I thought the same thing as I was watching the movie (although, given Viggo is about 10 years older than RA, he is in pretty good shape. 😉 )

      But there is something about Richard’s physique that I find exceptionally attractive. He doesn’t get overly muscled like some body builders, which I don’t find attractive. The broad shoulders tapering to the trim waist, the long, lean arms and legs which are shapely and nicely muscled, that deliciously ripe backside and the chest–defined, with those lovely chesticles of his. I also think his skin looks so smooth and soft as if it would be really nice to touch.

      Yea, I have thought the same thing, that Richard would have made an excellent Aragorn (especially after I saw him with the S3 Guy hair). Actually, he and Viggo remind me of each other, not in physical appearance, but in the fact they are low-key guys who care more about getting the character right than being celebrities, and both are multi-talented. Viggo plays a couple of instruments, paints and writes poetry. And I have to say he did one heck of a good Russian accent in the movie.

      • I haven’t seen Eastern Promises but I read some good reviews when it came out. Yes, considering the age gap (13 years as VM was born in 1958- just checked on Imdb) VM is in a very good shape indeed! Heard about VM writing poetry, but wasn’t aware of him playing instruments too. I’m impressed! And he never let the LOTR fame get to his head.

        • It is one I would like to see again. Really good performances and you became interested in just what was going to happen to the characters. OK, so Viggo is a couple of years older than me. Yep, he did some serious working out to get ready for that role. Yeah, Viggo is one of those actors who sort of stays below the radar. I think playing Aragorn probably helped him enough financially that he can pick and choose the roles he wants to do, roles that really interest him. That’s the sort of scenario I would like to see happen for Richard.

  3. Last pic… I’m trying to interpret the look on HER face… Is it a look of.. disgust? Must confess I can’t remember the scene itself. (Oh dear at this rate I’ll never get any work done! It’s all Richard’s fault! )

    • Actually, if you look closely at the left side of the photo you can see stage equipment in the background. This is not Lucas and Maya; it’s Richard and Laila preparing to shoot a scene (the one where Lucas/John is standing behind her with his arms wrapped around Maya, I am guessing). Richard seems to be concentrating on something–directions he is being given, perhaps?–while Laila looks at someone or something out of the frame.

  4. Gnothi Seauton draws my eyes to other such details as the veins running down into the illiac crest, and that little trickle of water through the u and the t. It’s definitely my favourite *grin*

          • He was quite lean before, but dropping that weight did make him look a bit more like someone who has been in deprived circumstances. He’s a big, active guy and I am sure he can normally put away quite a few calories.

            I always joke that Russian prisons must have great dental plans. 😉 He certainly had nice teeth! 😉 In terms of his body, RA kept his muscles toned so he still looked fit. I guess ypu don’t have a lot to do in prison except read and exercise in between the interrogations and beatings. 😦

          • Yes, he has gorgeous teeth! But other than the teeth (well done to the Russian prisons for their excellent dentistry), he did get the “I’ve just got out of prison after 8 years” look right! Very right indeed! 🙂

            • And part of getting it right was the haunted quality Richard captured for the role. You could see in those beautiful eyes a certain sadness, the pain of the horrors he had been through.

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