Daily Archives: August 21, 2012

Time to Party! It’s Armitage Day, Ladies & Gents

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Here’s my third (and I promise!) final tribute vid for Richard’s birthday. Earlier I posted two vids of the chaRActers saluting their wonderful Creator. I actually think Thorin and Guy are vying for who is going to cut the cake. Those alpha males!

 

 

 

 

I wrote Mama Armitage a letter (well, a fictional one) in honor of her son’s day. Clink on the link at the right if you missed it.

And now here’s the vid, which I think everyone just might be able to see! Get your dancing shoes on and get ready to celebrate Richard Crispin Armitage’s birthday!  PAAAAAAR-TYYYYYY! Richard, I hope you have a very happy birthday and many, many more to come, dear fellow.

A letter to Margaret Armitage on the occasion of Richard’s big day

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(There are so many things I would love to discuss with Richard Armitage’s mom if I ever had the occasion to meet her. And I wish I could thank her personally for producing such a great kid. However, this is all very unlikely to happen. So here’s a fictional letter to Mrs. Armitage in Leicester, where is already August 22 . . . Happy Birthday, Richard!)

Dear Margaret,

Today your baby boy turns 41. Another birthday celebrated far from home. I hope you get to enjoy a long conversation (via Skype, perhaps?), see that handsome face and hear that warm, deep, melodious voice we all love. But you loved it well before we did, didn’t you?

He’s middle-aged, but I suspect you do still think of him as your baby. I was in my late 40s when my mother passed away, and she still introduced me as her “baby daughter.”

When you see him in your mind, do you still see that lanky kid with the sweet smile, his out-sized nose often stuck in a book, those big blue eyes reflecting the worlds he traveled to in his vivid imagination?  The little boy who drew on chest hairs with a marker, who galloped through the garden playing pretend?

   Your son grew up to be a great storyteller

While there are people who grow up in terrible circumstances and still manage to become well-adjusted and productive adults, I tend to think, in most instances, that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

You and John deserve credit for rearing an amazing human being.  You’ve certainly passed on some incredible genetic material, and not just in terms of the staggering degree of handsomeness your son has achieved. There’s all that intelligence and talent to be considered, too.

You both deserve credit for taking steps to foster the considerable potential within him. Your willingness to go back to work in order to pay Richard’s school fees at Pattinson College shows your desire to help him fulfill his dreams.

Your little boy at 22.

It must have been a little difficult to “let him go” at that age, though. And then to see your baby boy take off at age 17 to a foreign country for six weeks to earn his Equity card?  It seems you also fostered a sense of independence in your son, along with a strong work ethic.

Of course, it is much more than just the staggeringly handsome and tremendously talented fellow he grew up to be that makes Richard such a special human being. There’s that work ethic I mentioned—honestly, we do worry a bit about him burning himself out—and there are those lovely manners of his.

You and John really did raise quite a gentleman, you know. Gracious, polite, with a lovely sense of humor that is never mean-spirited in nature.

He’s making so many fans on this side of the pond very happy with that sweetness and patience and good-humored nature on full display when meeting supporters who have visited the set of Black Sky.  As his star ascends, he may no longer be able to be so accessible. Bless him for being so now.

I wonder—did it ever enter your mind just how famous your son might one day become? When you were watching him on stage in those early productions, did you have any inkling he’d one day be on the verge of international movie stardom? Are you still trying to wrap your head around that notion, I wonder? I certainly would be in your place.

If I ever met your son, I would want to thank him simply for being—himself. And if I ever met you, I’d want to thank you for bringing such an extraordinary son into the world—and sharing him with us.

You did something pretty darned special 41 years ago today.

All the best,

An admirer of all things Armitage

The Accent Question: Why I think it’s important RA gets it right

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I know that certain fans from overseas are having a difficult time understanding why some of us are so concerned about Mr. Armitage’s accent in the upcoming film Black Sky.
Here are my thoughts on the subject, for what it’s worth.

Let me start by saying I am a huge movie buff. Being out of work for nearly a year has allowed me to watch lots of films (see, there’s a silver lining in every cloud), including those from the Golden Age of the silver screen. Back in the day, Hollywood leading actors who were Americans rarely even attempted to do accents, regardless of whether they were playing Frenchmen, Italians, Russians, or some other nationality. Clark Gable always sounded like Clark Gable, Robert Taylor, like Robert Taylor. Occasionally, they would add a slight English twist or attempt a regional accent, with mixed success.  Accents were largely left to the character actors.

Gary Cooper was a wonderful actor and he gave a great performance as pacifist turned WW I hero, Sgt. Alvin York in Sergeant York.  But I can assure you his “mountaineer” accent was not always credible. It wasn’t “Sarah Caulfield awful,” mind you; it just missed capturing the true flavor of the regional dialect. My own mother hailed from the same hometown in Tennessee and the speech patterns of Crossville and the Cumberland Plateau differ from other parts of the state.  It’s becoming more homogenized nowadays, but back then, there was an unmistakable lilting cadence to local speech that entranced me from childhood.

Remember when Kevin Costner played Robin Hood in the Prince of Thieves film? At times he sounded vaguely British, but most of the time he sounded like, well-Kevin Costner, with that slight Midwestern twang–a tad out of place in the middle of Nottinghamshire. As I recall, he got quite a bit of flack for it.

The Great Legend with a Midwestern twang.

In recent years, it has become more important for the leading man to also display character actor skills–that is, to be able to perform a credible accent suitable to the role he is playing. Sometimes lead actors still avoid attempting an accent; as a German officer in Valkyrie, Tom Cruise stuck with an American accent. Perhaps memories of the less-than-enthused critical reaction to his Irish brogue in Far & Away haunted him.

The fact is, here in the US, an actor who can’t “cut the mustard” when it comes to delivering a reasonably credible regional or foreign accent has a strike against him. If Andrew Lincoln, Richard’s co-star in Strike Back hadn’t been able to pull off a decent southern accent for the role of a Georgia lawman in The Walking Dead, it’s highly unlikely he would have ever been cast, no matter how good of an actor he is.

Andrew Lincoln (center) and his co-stars in The Walking Dead (coincidentally, the actress playing Lincoln’s wife is co-starring with RA in Black Sky).

Not being able to sound like someone other than yourself tends to put limitations on an actor in terms of the roles offered to him in television and film (Sir Sean Connery, the perpetual Scotsman notwithstanding)

Now, do not get me wrong; I completely and utterly adore Richard’s natural Midlands accent. Like all Americans, it seems, I am a sucker for a British accent. But I also know that some of the British actors I admire most–Michael Gambon,  Gary Oldman, Alan Rickman, Ralph Fiennes, Albert Finney, Ewan McGregor, to name a few–can also manage  credible American accents.  Yes, it’s true that his voice will be dubbed in overseas markets. But lots of ticket buyers are American. The studio execs are American. Like it or not, it is important.

http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/poetry.html

Two years ago, Richard participated in a poetry reading for Words and Music for BBC Radio. Click on the above link to access the RA-only portion of the broadcast (the American accent begins about halfway through this snippet).

At the time, a number of fans (mostly fellow Americans) expressed disappointment with the accent RA adopted for some of the American poetry. Of course, this was two years ago and a lot can change in that space of time. One imagines he’s been working at it.  My take on the Words and Music performance? It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t great. Definitely room for improvement.

I am hoping that Richard’s casting as an American school teacher is an indication he made a favorable impression on the casting director in terms of his American accent. We know on his first visit to America several years back, RA’s attempt at a Yank accent apparently fell flat (he read in what he thought was an American accent, and was asked to repeat it “and this time, in an American accent.”) Bless his heart.

So Richard, my hope is that you go forth and knock everyone’s cotton socks off as a Oklahoman in the big screen, accent and all!

(Admittedly, it probably doesn’t help that I have a particularly good ear for accents and have since I was very young. I am a natural mimic. I have no formal dialect training, but I can pull off a pretty darned good Brit accent. I have been known to fool people.  So I hold those who do have training and do this for a living to particularly high standards, I suppose. I just don’t want him to appear on EW.com’s list of Worst Movie Accents Ever.)

TAE Word for the Day: Does Mr. Armitage make you simper?

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The Word for the Day is simper (verb) to smile in a silly, self-conscious way. (2) To say with a simper.

(Noun) A silly, self-conscious smile.

I sometimes think it is a good thing I can’t see my face while I am looking at images of RA/listening to his voice because I suspect I would be, as we say in this neck of the woods, “grinning like a possum.” Or, in other words, I’d have a simper on my face. I’d be simpering.

And so I ask, ladies and gents, does Mr. A make you simper (amongst other things)?

Hey, there’s a good chance my fellow Americans can see THIS one.

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At least dear Laurie had success watching it and she’s on this side of the pond. It should only be blocked in Germany. Swapped songs for a Three Dog Night classic and made a few other tweaks. Hope it brings some smiles and some celebratory spirit!