“I had to pick myself up off the floor”: New interview with RA

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“With 13 dwarfs in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, audiences are expected by the film trilogy’s end to easily distinguish and recognise each one. 

    But if there’s one dwarf that will be easy to spot from the moment he appears on screen it will be Thorin Oakenshield, played by British actor Richard Armitage.

One reason is that Thorin is the leader and, going on a glimpse I got of the band of dwarfs on set during filming earlier this year, a heroic risk-taker. I couldn’t help but think that Thorin could be to The Hobbit what Aragorn – played by Viggo Mortensen – was in The Lord of the Rings . . .

Portrait of a charismatic handsome prince–young Thorin.

An older, more world-weary Thorin.

Armitage first heard about The Hobbit after Sir Peter Jackson contacted the actor’s agent. Jackson asked if Armitage could read for the part of Thorin. “I thought, first of all, I’m six foot two [1.8 metres] and Thorin’s an old guy. Maybe they want me to read it for a general audition.

“But then when I read what they’d done with the audition speech I realised that they were looking for something quite different. They needed someone who could play a warrior, who could play a young Thorin and old Thorin and also to bring the idea of somebody who could return to his full potential to become a king. That’s when I sat down with Peter and we talked through the journey and the arc of the character – and then they offered it to me. I had to pick myself up off the floor.”

~~excerpts from Tom Cardy’s interview with Richard Armitage in The Dominion Post  (NZ) 11/23/2012

Here’s the link to the rest of this interview: http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/culture/7985809/Richard-Armitage-the-warrior-dwarf

Thanks to Heirs of Durin for the heads-up on the new interview. As always, Armitage brings thoughtful, intelligent and good-humored responses to the reporter’s questions.

He also discusses being on pins and needles during the months when he had the role, but the project had not yet been fully green-lighted. RA had to juggle projects, as he was determined that no one else would play the role.

And now, frankly, can any of us imagine anyone else playing the role? Just as Viggo became Aragorn, so Richard IS Thorin.

To all the naysayers, it does appear that Richard, a man in mid-life who is also strong, athletic, fit and accustomed to action-oriented roles as well as detailed characterizations; a skilled actor known for his chameleon-like qualities, is the perfect choice to play Thorin. Sir Peter obviously had faith in him.

Richard mentions the Powhiri ceremony kick-starting the production being an “amazing moment” after those stressful months of being on that knife edge, and I recall how overwhelmed he seemed to be in those opening moments: the flare of his nostrils, eyes shining with emotions, the smile on his face. And then the way he did us all proud with his little speech as representative of the movie’s cast and crew.

You also discover the importance of Thorin’s boots. I knew a broadcast journalist who taped pieces from the waist up. So you couldn’t see that she wasn’t wearing her customary high heels. “For some reason I can’t talk if I’ve got my heels on, so I do those reports barefooted,” she told me with a laugh.  Apparently Richard couldn’t play Thorin without his boots–even if the shot was from waist up! Just shows how importance costuming is to the characterization.

A GIF of RA doing a bit of boot bumping at Dwarf Camp (click on to play).  Richard said he had never traveled so far from home and felt more at home in New Zealand, it all seemed so familiar to him. Funny, that’s the way I felt about London!

Oh, things like this article only make me more ridiculously excited about the film. Just a few more weeks . . .

15 responses »

  1. What a great article. I was surprised to read that when the interview took place RA was in New York at the height of hurricane Sandy. Black Sky had completed filming one month before, so that means that RA was still in the States. How comes RA didn’t just leave before the storm hit? Either RA really loves New York, or maybe he was attracted to the thrill of the oncoming storm…LOL Very interesting indeed. Below is the quote from the article. I am beginning to wonder if Mr. Armitage went and got himself an apartment in New York.

    “Armitage, who is doing the interview while in New York at the height of Hurricane Sandy – “I haven’t got any power or water but I’ve got a phone line.”

    • I think he was back in England at least briefly. I am sure he wanted to see his family. He’s supposed to be taping a Canadian television interview pretty soon, I forget when. So maybe NY is his home base for now, whilst he’s jetting around the world to various Hobbit-related events and until (one assumes) he undertakes another project before returning to NZ next summer. We still don’t know what he’s got lined up next–or where it will shoot . . . perhaps more will be revealed soon. 😉

      • LOL Maybe so. I would love to see RA do one of those limited runs in a Broadway show and actually be able to go and see him. I have spent one whole day in NYC and that was to be on a television show and we couldn’t quite work in any Broadway shows into our tight schedule. 😉 I will have to write a post about that experience at some point.

        • I was a bit surprised to discover that Lee has done quite a lot of theatre work as well as films and TV of course. Busy guy! In “Golden Age” he plays the 19th century Italian opera composer Vincenzo Bellini, (who was one of my father’s favourite composers). The play is centered around the premiere of Bellini’s last opera, “I puritani”. Interistingly, Bellini was 33 when the opera premiered, (so they’ve got the casting spot on in that respect as Lee is also 33 now. 🙂 ) I’ve always thought they should do a movie about Bellini as he was so good looking and died at the very young age of 34. Well, now there’s a play about him. 🙂 I’d love it if they took it to West End so I could go and see it though normally it’s the other way round (they take West End plays to Broadway).

  2. I saw this interview last night, as RA Central tweeted the link, but I saw the date on the interview and I thought it was an old one, so, has it just been released? Anyway, I’ve really enjoyed it and I was the one having to pick myself up off the floor after seeing that picture from the Powhiri, I had never seen it before! Not a close one like that! Thank you soooo much Angie!!!
    “They might want to throw tomatoes at me”… And bang! He’s done it again, he’s made me fall in love with him all over again, only that 1000 times stronger… My darling Richard, the world is going to adore you just like we’ve done it for years. And we’re so immensely happy for you, because you deserve nothing less. You’re the best and it’s about time that everybody finds out ❤ Your army is about to get so much bigger…

    • It’s new. Apparently it actually came out Friday NZ time, so Thursday for most of the rest of us. The interview was done by phone while Hurricane Sandy was hitting the east coast of the US. I very much enjoyed it, too. I cropped in on one of the screencaps from that ceremony and embellished it a bit. I am glad you liked it. 😀

      I thought he was just gorgeous that day and it obviously meant a lot to him, our dear boy.

      I love that sweet, self-deprecating sense of humor of his, too. I suspect women will be wanting to throw themselves at him, not tomatoes. 😉 And I agree, I suspect the army is about to explode . . .

  3. Promise I’ll only throw tomatoes at him if he really likes ’em! LOL… Awwww bless his gorgeous beautiful heart, yes he did look nervous during the Powhiri, he must have been overwhelmed by the enormity of occasion, the darling man. THANK YOU for the beautiful fanart of that Powhiri still. Makes my heart quiver. *sigh*

    • You are so welcome. 😀 I bet at that Powhiri ceremony, he felt as if he needed to pinch himself, now that it was finally happening! Again, there’s that sense he’s just such a down-to-earth guy who doesn’t put on airs and doesn’t mind admitting to being overwhelmed at times. Such a beautiful soul.

  4. Lovely pics as usual Angie. Thank You. When I read the interview I thought oh Richard you have no idea how we all feel about you he is such an unasuming & modest man. I got my Thorin magnetic bookmark today YAY!!!!

    • You’re welcome. I know, I thought the same thing, there’s nothing of the inflated ego you seem to see in some celebrities (and in some of those reality show “stars” who think they are all that), Hooray for your bookmark! 😀

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