According to The Emotion Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman and Bella Puglisi, up to 95 percent of all communication is non-verbal. Even in instances where we are trying not to show our feelings, we are still sending messages through body language. As a writer, I have to make sure my characters express their emotions in ways “that are both recognizable and compelling to read.”
These words made me think of Mr. Armitage, an actor who can speak volumes of dialogue about his characters’ thoughts, feelings, emotions without speaking a word. Think of the wonderful scene at the train station in North & South. As Thornton, he does not have a great deal of dialogue in that scene, and yet–we know so much about this character and what’s going on in his head and heart. A pensive Thornton arriving at the station, the lightening of his expression as he sees Margaret and presents her with the flowers from Helstone. We learn so much by watching his body language, his facial expressions, seeing his attentiveness to Margaret, the way he uses those eloquent and beautiful hands when cupping her face for that kiss
The look of desolation when it seems Margaret is leaving, the dawning recognition that we see in his eyes and smile when he realizes she is, indeed, coming home with him–we can relate to and respond to these emotions so easily. (In no way do I intend to discount Daniela’s contributions here–their onscreen chemistry added immeasurably to the production and particularly to this scene–but the focus here is on RA’s perfomance.)
If good writing involves crafting characters that are both recognizable and compelling to read, then good acting surely means breathing life into characters that are also recognizable and compelling to watch as well as to listen to. Richard Armitage accomplishes that feat very, very well, I think. He is very much a storyteller, and not just in those charming Cbeebies videos.