Richard Armitage loves the baddies. And he keeps me from hating them.

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Richard Armitage has said he is not interested in playing floppy-haired heroic types (but, darn it, Rich, we love your floppy tresses!) and when he does play heroes, he looks for their dark side. After all, perfection would be a bit–boring, would it not?

He loves playing the bad guys, and he’s so very good at it.  Because just as he looks for the dark side in the heroes, he also seeks the humanity, the light, no matter how dim, within his darker characters.  And he always finds it. It makes all the difference in how I respond to characters like Paul Andrews, John Mulligan, Robert Lovelace , Heinz Kruger or my beloved Sir Guy of Gisborne.

John Mulligan--"Could you be a devil? Could you be an angel?"
In RA's hands, you are one complex, charismatic baddie.

I find myself unable to completely despise any of the cads, rogues, heinous henchmen or sinister spies he has played thus far. I may reject many of their actions and attitudes and find elements of their characters revolting; still, that glimpse of humanity, that sometimes subtle-yet-discernible struggle between good and evil, allows me to identify with them and empathize in a way I rarely do with other actors when playing the same types of roles.

Heinz, you are a saboteur and a murderer. And yet--I feel the need to know more about why you chose this path rather than immediately condemning you. Would I feel the same if another actor had played the role? Would I even care?

I have asked myself, “Is it because, as Lucy Griffiths quipped on one of the RH commentaries,  Richard makes  ‘such a good-looking murderer?'”

Is it Richard’s beauty and charisma blinding me to the characters’ flaws that keeps me from despising the baddies?  I honestly don’t think so.  I clearly see these are flawed, damaged, sometimes amoral and dangerous men who also happen to possess great looks and considerable charm.  The latter qualities certainly can make them easier on the eye and soften one up a bit.

Sir Guy: vain, temperamental, hungry for wealth and power, the evil Vasey's henchman who has killed and tortured for the sheriff. And yet. We also see his vulnerability, his naivety, his aching need for love, his ability to show courage and chivalry.

Still, it’s what is going on inside these characters that ultimately makes them so compelling for me.  It’s that glimmer of light inside the darkness. It’s wondering where they came from, what molded them into the men they have become and what lies ahead of them. In Sir Guy’s case, it was longing for that redemptive arc, for him to become the good man, the hero we knew he was capable of being. Before Richard, could we imagine a Sir Guy of Gisborne we’d actually prefer over the titular hero of the show?

A baddie in Richard’s hands becomes a three-dimensional, fully-fleshed-out character, a real human being with a mind, a heart and soul. And knowing they are created with such detail and dedication by  this wonderful actor, who works so hard to breath life into each one, makes me appreciate them all, good, bad, and something somewhere in-between.

So, Richard. Maybe what we need is a complex anti-hero role where you start out a baddie, end up a goodie, get the girl and survive past the final credits?  Angst, danger, brooding, romance, heroism and ultimately a happy ending. What do ya think?

"Hmmmm. Better shop that sort of scenario around to some scriptwriters . . ."

32 responses »

  1. That’s a great scenario, Angie!! How great that would be. But honestly at this stage of the game I just want to see him in SOMETHING after TH!! I’m getting serious withdrawal symptoms and if it wasn’t for your blog I don’t know what I’d do!! Although it’s after 9.30 in the evening I’m about to start watching Spooks 8 as I needed so badly to see him on my TV screen and I haven’t watched it for a while. Even with GoR’s awful accent I’m going to enjoy every second of it!! 😀 Luscious Lucas, here I come!! 😉

    • I know, I almost think the man could play an ax murderer at this point and we’d all go, “Oh, yippppeeeeeeee!” Enjoy Spooks 8 and hit the mute button every time Caulfield opens her mouth. *evil grin*

      • Just finished Ep 1 a few moments ago and it was totally worth it – GoR and all!! Lucas in that snug blue sweater which totally shows off his physique?? YUM!!!!!!!!!!!! He truly is a TDHBEW in Spooks and of course he will always Lucas and SND!! Oh but he really is a fantastic actor and as you say, he could play any baddie and we’d still love him!! 🙂

      • I was re-reading Richard’s interviews and reading this ….. I was really shocked

        Following the change of President, there’s also a new CIA liaison officer on the scene – Sarah Caulfield, played by Genevieve O’Reilly.
        “She’s this incredibly beautiful, powerful woman who is obviously irresistable but has trouble written all over her,” grins former Robin Hood star Richard, who played a Manchester mill owner in North and South.

        http://menmedia.co.uk/manchestereveningnews/tv_and_showbiz/s/1179699_spooks_richard_armitage

        She is incredibly beautiful, irresistable ? Noooooooooooo, I can believe it, you should have said ” incredibly horrible”.
        Dear Richard, did you drink too much vodka ?

        • Nadia, there are times when our ever-polite, kind and gentlemanly Richard fibs just a bit, methinks. I remember reading that and also a quote in which he said “you’ll fall in love with her” referring to GOR as Sarah. He’s a team player, that’s for sure. But you did wonder if he’d taken some sort of hallucinogen.

          I guess he didn’t feel quite comfortable saying, “Making love to her on camera is like shagging a giant ice cube. Boy, oh boy, is my work cut out for me!! No wonder I have to go running regularly. It’s not just to keep fit, it’s to deal with my frustration on being saddled with this frozen co-star with the most godawful fake accent I have ever heard.” 😉

          • Now, now, ladies – that’s not nice! But it was a horrible accent, wasn’t it?

            I saw Genieve in “Waking the Dead” the other night – she was quite good. But then she wasn’t faking an American accent! She does Australian, English and Irish accents well.

            • It was an atrocious accent for someone who is an experienced professional actress. I say this because I am strictly an amateur and I can do pretty decent English, Irish and Australian accents. And if she had a dialogue coach, said coach should have been sacked.
              BTW as I recall, GOR was born in Ireland and later moved to Australia, so those accents should come more easily to her. I am not saying she’s a horrible actress–I haven’t seen her in anything else other than her near-silent role in The Young Victoria–but she was a very poor choice for the role of an American agent and Lucas’s love interest. I never “bought” it.

              • Oh , I agree whole-heartedly, Angie, Even if I hadn’t known her background, I would have known GOR’s accent in “Spooks” was fake. And I could never work out why she seemed so wooden. Maybe she thought if she didn’t act like a lump of wood, she’d get carried away by Richard’s sexiness????????

              • I don’t know–was she directed to act that way? Because it seems to me Laila was also pretty much an expressionless lump at times. It was very frustrating as a viewer.

                If it wasn’t the direction, did GoR have a jealous husband and she didn’t want to seem too enthusiastic over her scenes with RA? Was she so unnerved by dear sweet, gorgeous Richard that she froze on camera?? It is truly a mystery to me.

              • Anyway, Ladies…..I “must away ere break of day” or I’ll be here all night again. Need to watch another couple of hours of ABC Catch Up before the shows expire.

                ‘night, ‘night.

                🙂 😉

              • I think I’d rather give him a massage. Like the one he got in BTS. *blushes beet red*

              • I could always see that, you can kind of tell even when he’s wearing clothes (black leather trousers for example) that he has a great looking backside.. Plus I saw the peaches in Spooks and in SB too, but those sightings weren’t in the same…erm..context.. as in BTS.. That lucky, lucky cow JG. And she saw his front side too! (can’t believe I said that sorry sorry sorry all these spring hormones are getting the better of me)

              • Of course nothing forceful, I don’t want to damage the Peaches of Perfection ! I’am sure he’ll heal very quickly after Judit’s massage and Angie’s licks “coughs”

        • I have been trying to watch Spooks 8 again. When she comes on screen I feel sick. I’ve just watched the show where they kiss for the first time. That is really the first kiss I’ve seen RA do where it doesn’t seen “right”. It looks acted. I remember the first time I saw this show, I was floored that it had even happen because nothing before that even indicated that they were attracted like that. Now if Roz and Lucas had kissed like that after work, I would have totally believed it!

          • One of the things that always makes me laugh a little when I see their first kiss is how it appears poor RA has to sort of rethink things as he’s moving in to her mouth to keep their noses from colliding; I wondered if they had rehearsed it and she changed the way she was going to turn her head and that threw him off. It made it look awkward. Oh, Roz and Lucas had far more chemistry than he did with Sarah or Maya, for that matter.

          • Laurie, it bothered me too, that there was absolutely no sign of any attraction between them leading up to that scene by the bridge. Normally when Richard kisses any of his leading ladies I get the “tingles” but in this case there were no tingles whatsoever! It’s because she wasn’t respoding to him! Maybe she is just too self-conscious to do intimate stuff in front of the camera, and can’t relax. There are some actors who are awful at kissing on camera (Sorry, but IMO Colin Firth is one of them- he just seems “frozen”!Never opens his mouth.). GoR is probably one of them and Laila-Maya is another. Unfortunately for Richard and us viewers who expect the screen to explode every time there is a kissing scene featuring our dear boy. 🙂

            • The clear lack of chemistry between the two characters made Lucas look like a total numpty, not to mention pathetically desperate for falling for this woman. I mean–Sarah was certainly not ugly, but she was no great beauty, either. And I kept wanting to tell her to touch up her damn roots. She didn’t come across as having a lot of sexual allure and her personality stank. As an American, I cringed every time she used certain words, “honey” being one of them. It didn’t sound like a term of endearment coming out of Sarah’s mouth. Poor, poor, poor casting decision.

  2. I’ve just been “catching up” on series 3 of “Being Human” with Aiden Turner and must now go watch the 2nd episode of “Waking the Dead” on iView. See ya later.

  3. I could never understand the plot because Ros uses Lucas as a honey trap to get information from Sarah but Harry was miffed when they got together. I would have thought a relationship between similiar operatives would have been preferable than between a spy and an ordinary member of the public. I would have loved to know more about his wife what was her backstory?
    The trouble with Spooks was that I wanted to make sense of the daft stories.

    • Yes, it appeared that Lucas was supposed to use “any means necessary” to pry info out of Sarah, and it was implied pillow talk would certainly be acceptable. Harry was always grumpy over something LOL Should I confess here I really didn’t like the Harry Pearce character all that much?

      Yes, Sapphire, I had the same problem with wanting things to be logical and plausible on Spooks, which seemed to get more and more difficult for me in S8 and S9 (don’t know about 10 as I haven’t seen it and don’t plan to).

  4. Pingback: A villain we can relate to: Richard’s shades of grey « the armitage effect

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