Saturday . . . and Sweet John Standring

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John (Richard Armitage) tells Carol (Sarah Smart) "Don't think you can't tell me things."

One of my favorite SH screencaps. What beauty and sweetness we see here.

The geeky double thumbs up is very endearing to me.

John Standring after his pre-wedding makeover.

Standring, a character in an updated version of Wuthering Heights was the first of several notable characters for Richard named John. And while it is a supporting role in a production featuring several talented actors, it is arguably Richard’s performance as Yorkshire sheep farmer John Standring that shone the most. His crafting of the character of the crippingly shy, awkward farmhand, “second best” for the woman he marries, but faithful and loving throughout–truly a gentle giant–is simply outstanding.

It is difficult to believe at times this is the same actor who would later play Guy of Gisborne, John Thornton, Lucas North, Harry Kennedy and John Porter. What an incredible chameleon this actor is!

It’s not just the unruly mop of reddish-brown curls on Standring’s head or the coveralls he wears that set him apart from the other characters. It’s his speech, his mannerisms, the way he walks and stands. Richard has said this was the first audition he went to in character and it must have worked, since he got the part.

John Thornton may be his most iconic role, but I believe the breakthrough performance that finally allowed Richard to start winning more roles and see a measure of success in his career was his heartbreaking creation of that awkward farmhand with a heart of gold–John Standring.

About fedoralady

I'm an LA native--Lower Alabama, that is. My husband of more than 30 years and I live here on a portion of my family's former farm with two gorgeous calicos and a handsome GSD mix. My background is art education, and over the years I've been a teacher, department store photographer, sales associate and a journalist. My husband, his business partner and I have Pecan Ridge Productions, a video production company, for which I shoot & edit video and stills and manage marketing. I also still write part-time for the local paper. I love movies, music, art, photography and books, and my tastes in all of them are eclectic.

18 responses »

  1. Of all the chaRActers so far, ♥JS♥ is nearest and dearest to my heart! My kids tease me that I am going to wear out my DVD. There’s just something about that farmer… 😀

    • John Standring, or Sweetie John as I like to call him, 😀 is such a good guy. He’s gentle and steadfast and kind. Not to mention he cleans up very nicely. I look at that weedy self-absorbed Andrew and know that Carol had to be a damaged soul to still pine after him after the way he had treated her. He was married and had a child, but Andrew was still a child; John was a MAN.

  2. I love the way Richard created John Standring. The character is so real, so poignantly sweet and tender, your heart breaks for him. I am reminded of “From strength comes forth sweetness.”

    • You completely believe in this character, don’t you? The way Richard makes himself seem even larger than he is as this big man trying to make himself less conspicuous. The light in John’s eyes is so beautiful. There are shots where he looks like a rosy-cheeked angel and his behavior follows suit. Once again an RA character experiences having the love and affection he wants to give not properly reciprocated. 😦 Your heart does break for him.

  3. One of my favourite characters too. John Standring broke my heart and revived my maternal instinct ! He is so sweet, tender, shy, fragile, …

  4. J.S- litte clumsy,heavy,slow but good-hearted men. I love this character but I fear that in RL I prefer a slightly noughty(headstrong) boys, I mean ‘free spirits’.;)

  5. I foung this quite hard to watch. This was the second thing I had watched with RA, after “North and South” and I just felt for him so badly. There are men who you want to be with, although they may be bad for you and men who you should be with, who deserve your love and affection. You are lucky when you get both rolled into one. I was keeping my fingers crossed for John and hoped he would get his happy ending!

    • I find it hard to watch, too. Darn it, Richard makes me care so much for his characters and want so badly for things to work out for them. 😦

      There are a lot of fanfics that end up removing Carol from JS’s life either by her death orher leaving John, and then they match him up with the “right” woman. Other writers bring Carol around to the point where she can actually learn to appreciate and accept the love John offers her and to respond to it.

      • I can’t imagine removing Carol fom Johns life. I think that would be the most painful thing for him. He seems like the time of man who falls in love hard once in his life and remains loyal to that love. I think he would rather be ill treated by his love, but have her in his life than have her disappear altogether.

        • I think you are probably right. He’s so steadfast. John reminds me of the husband of Gomer in the Bible. She’d run out on him and he’d take her back because he loved her so very much. She’s his wife and he pledged to always be there for her. I like to think that Lisa, seeing how good John is to Carol, would do her best to help Carol realize what a good man she has in John. I am one of those cockeyed optimists.

        • I so agree with you @IWantToBeAPinUp.. J.S. is definitely a “one woman-man” . I much prefer the scenario in which Carol learns to appreciate him and to be open with him about her issues and then they could work through them together… @Angie you’re right about this being a breakthrough performance, he totally transformed himself and created an unforgettable character. I’m just stunned that somebody THIS good was ever out of work as an actor. How is that possible?

          • If I ever wrote a JS fanfic, that’s the angle I would use–that Carol does come to fall in love with him in time as she begins to heal emotionally, and they become a real family.
            This is just my theory–I have never heard or read of Richard saying this–but I have wondered if the audition process somehow unnerved him early in his career and caused him to give some unsatisfactory readings. You see, when he walked into those auditions, he was going in as talented–but shy– Richard Armitage.

            Deciding to go in character, dressed, speaking and behaving like John Standring gave him a confidence he had perhaps lacked in the past. He obviously did well since he was chosen for the part. 😀

          • Your theory makes lot of sense! You could be the best actor in the world but if you can’t “sell” yourself to casting directors etc.,you won’t get very far in this business..

  6. Soooo….Angie….JS fanfic…please tell me you are considering writing one!!! There is not enough JS fanfic out there (for me, anyway! lol) and I know you would do his story justice. 🙂

    • Dhana,

      I am thinking of a JS fic, but it may be a while. I need to finish my novel . . . and hopefully once my broken tailbone has healed up, I will find some sort of job, so not as much time for the fun stuff. Oh, there is so much I want to do.

  7. Ever since I first saw Sparkhouse back when it first aired on UK TV (several years before I had a clue who RA was) I fell heavily for Sweetie John. All these years on, and now fully aware of who RA is :D, (and just how good John would look in leather etc ;)) my adoration of John S just grows and grows every time I (often) watch Sparkhouse again.

    I’ve even got a homemade Sweetie John calendar that hangs over my bed. LOL

    If Carol doesn’t want him, I’ll take him!

    • You know I know how much you love Sweetie John. 😀 He is a wonderful fellow and sadly, I am not sure poor damaged Carol would have ever been able to fully appreciate him. 😦
      Therefore things must be set right through fanfics (and our imaginations). 😀

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