An emotional thesaurus, courtesy of Thornton & his CReAtor

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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.

42 responses »

  1. You speak about emotions and I am very emotive as you have noticed. The expression ” speak volumes” is priceless to me ! Non verbal communication (body language) is one of his greatest skill ! A grin, a gaze, a shrug and we know what he wants to tell us !!!
    J’espère que tout se passe bien pour toi actuellement. J’écoute les bulletins météo et croise les doigts.
    Big hugs

    • Yes, I know you are. As am I . One of my former students described me as very “animated.” 😉 He can indeed say so much without speaking a word. We knew so much about Sir Guy by simply watching him. The weather here right now is a bit windy and rain is expected, nothing yet, though. Isaac is a big old white swirl out in the Gulf. I guess he’s still expected to make landfall either late tonight or tomorrow.

  2. That ability to act merely with his eyes and body language is what drew me to Richard in the first place and of course North and South was the vehicle. I found it extremely fascinating and I guess that is why he remains so special to me and obviously countless others. As he becomes known by a lot more people on this side of the Atlantic I hope they too will come to realize, as many of us already do, just what a treasure he really is!

    One of the things I love about your gif of the train station scene is the view of the underside of that beautiful stubbled jaw. I doubt I’m the only one to notice! 😉

    • Ah, yes, the jaw–that wonderful masculine jaw. *sigh* My hope is that just as Sir Guy introduced me to this great actor and led me to pursue seeing other things he had done, the same will be true for those who discover him as Thorin. They will be so captivated they will check out N&S, Sparkhouse, VoD, RH, Spooks . . . and be gobsmacked at his versatility.

    • I love that word–one of fav I borrow from the Brits. It really describes the way seeing those varied performances affected me. How could one actor play so many diverse characters so convincingly?!

      • A good one to borrow! Great word to describe the feeling. 😀 I still find myself, after all these years, saying over and over, “How does he do that”??????

  3. I can’t believe that some in the past have called him “wooden.” Those critics obviously didn’t see the train station scene for a start. How on earth can one miss those emotions you mention? In the second and third pictures, the way he gazes at Margaret as she blathers on, then kisses his hand, are bone melting.
    His physical presence and voice provided the initial ooof for me, but it was his ability to convey so much without dialogue through his facial expressions…good lord, those eyes…and body language (infusing a scene with so much tenderness just with his hands) which captured me, and has continued to keep me enthralled.
    It’s going to be fascinating to see what he brings to the roles of Thorin and teacher/father in terms of his non-verbal performance. Will we see glimpses of Guy in the dwarf king, or something entirely new?

    As for that jawline…*thud*

    Thoughts and prayers are with you Angie, and all those in Isaac’s path. I’ve been keeping an eye on the updates as they appear here.

    • I still to this day can’t figure out how anyone could say that about him. Even if you didn’t like his character in a particular role “wooden” would not be a word that would spring to mind. Even after watching N&S so many times that I have lost count he still affects me in the same way as he did initially. For goodness sake the man MADE LOVE to Margaret merely with his eyes and later with his hands on her face! By the time they actually kiss I’m a mess! 😉 I can hardly wait to see him as Thorin, as well as a father and a teacher. It must strike him that he could have family that age in real life, just like he said about Alex in SB.

      • In the roles I watch over and over again, and Thornton is one of them, the effect he has on me doesn’t diminish with familiarity either, Teuchter. If anything, I find that the sighing, drooling, thudding and melting are increasing as I become even more fascinated with him.

        BTW There’s another fan report at RACentral- Suzi, a forum moderator on the site, met up with Richard on the Black Sky set. And another yummy picture, yaaaay!

          • Frenz actually just shared it too!! Isn’t he just the sweetest? He just climbs higher and higher in my estimation the more we read of his meetings with fans. May I say he LOOKS gorgeous there too! 😉

            • I check tumblr at least once a day, so that was where I found it, before the email about Frenz’s post came through, then I was out for the rest of the morning. My heart leaps whenever another pic or report crops up, then there’s the constant anticipation of the next sighting! I’m going to be a wreck by Christmas!! LOL
              He looks absolutely gorgeous, and yes, my love, admiration and respect for him have reached yet a higher level again…his courtesy, kindness and humbleness… I’m not a movie star … what a sweetheart he is.

              • As I said on Twitter, I think he will definitely be a MASSIVE movie star after people get a taste of Thorin, if being a movie star constitutes people clamoring to see you on the big screen–even if he doesn’t see himself in that light. I don’t know his ultimate career aims, but if there is anyone out there who deserves to make it big in films, it’s this guy. He’s got the looks, the charisma, the talent, the versatility, the work ethic. He IS all that and a deluxe size bag of chips.

              • I’m relieved to hear that there are others who have the same reaction every time we get any new info. But when there are actual pictures!! Good grief! I’m almost a basket case. 🙂 His humility is one of the many things I find endearing. Many another actor would be just lapping up the adoration.

              • And acting like they think they deserve every ounce and praise and more. I contrast someone like singer Kanye West, who is talented but has an ego the size of Texas, with someone like Richard–well, no contest. Give me the guy with talent and a down-to-earth attitude any time!

          • Thanks for sharing this, Mezz. Yet another lovely account of our lovely man. And this whole thing that pictures don’t do him justice . . . oh, my gosh. I don’t know if I could deal with that much gorgeousness in the flesh!!

        • I was married at 20, had my first child at 22 and by the time I was Richard’s age had five children, the youngest born when I was 32, so yes, he could theoretically have sons in their teens!

            • Do the math: 41 – 15 = 26. At 26, one could have a master’s degree or even a doctorate, and have been teaching for a couple of years. In today’s society, 26 seems young, but historically, there were many who made their mark on the world by then, whether they were parents or not. Recall that Richard III was a successful general by the time he was 25.

    • Yeah, I can get that some people may not find his looks appealing–ok, you like short, squatty, blonde guys with thick necks. Fine.

      But to criticize his acting as emotionless and wooden–that I cannot understand. Yet I read some N&S reviews recently (and I got the impression they watched the train station scene, too) in which some viewers described him as stiff and wooden. Others thought he overacted. Well, which is it, people?? I would call his acting nuanced and subtle, but also capable of intensity and passion when the scene and character calls for it.

      I confess I am hoping for some little glimpses of Guy in Thorin, although I am also sure we will see something new and different in the dwarf king, too. And very eager to see what he does with the role of teacher and dad, particularly a dad in a crisis situation involving his son.

      • I’m thinking we’ll see some pretty raw emotions as he deals with having his son missing. I’m sure that in his mind, he really is a dad living this nightmare.

        • When I heard about the tornado movie, I thought of this mother and daughter who were on the phone when that killer tornado hit Tuscaloosa. The daughter was a student living in some apartment buildings that were struck. The mother heard her last words and then the sound of wind roaring and crashes . . . the daughter was killed when the wall collapsed on her. Can you imagine going through that as a parent, hearing this going on and knowing your child was in the middle of it and you were miles away and helpless to do anything?

          • Poor woman! She must have felt like her heart was being ripped apart. Most parents would do anything to shield their children from harm.

            • Exactly!! I could only imagine how horrific that was. There were stories of friends searching for other friends in the rumble and discovering their bodies. The stories that we heard just made me cry. Sports Illustrated wrote a wonderful cover story about Tuscaloosa and the aftermath, about the experiences of students and parents and how the football players were out there doing all kinds of volunteer work in the community to help them get back on their feet. One of the players said, “This town has always been supportive of us, it’s only right that we give back to them right now.” I honestly believe that was a major impetus in the team winning another national championship. They didn’t just want it for themselves, they wanted it for the city.

      • Just goes to show you can never please everybody… You can aim to please a high percentage of your audience as an actor but you never, ever will please a 100 % of your public! It’s simply impossible.

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