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*spoilers for book/final movie* Here is an excellent essay by Susan Chan featured at DJ’s blog. Doesn’t this complex, conflicted, flawed hero just scream “Richard Armitage?” As if he was born to play role.

Heirs of Durin

Guest contributor Susan Messer Chan compares two of the supporting heroes from The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit; Aragorn and Thorin Oakenshield.

*Book spoilers*


Thorin Oakenshield: Tolkien’s Inimitable Hero
by Susan Messer Chan

Most of us are well acquainted with the warrior hero at the center of J.R.R. Tolkien’s epic literary masterpiece, The Lord of the Rings. Aragorn is the reluctant human heir to the Gondorian throne. Sporting the illustrious Dunedain bloodline, he bravely accepts his fate and leaps into action as bodyguard to the erstwhile Hobbits placed in his charge. In addition to having an intact kingdom to return to, he also possesses the undying love of the most beautiful maiden in the land, Princess Arwen of Rivendell.

Aragorn is noble to be sure. He is the sort of man anyone would want alongside them in a battle. His will is iron clad, his loyalty…

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About fedoralady

I'm an LA native--Lower Alabama, that is. My husband of more than 30 years and I live here on a portion of my family's former farm with two gorgeous calicos and a handsome GSD mix. My background is art education, and over the years I've been a teacher, department store photographer, sales associate and a journalist. My husband, his business partner and I have Pecan Ridge Productions, a video production company, for which I shoot & edit video and stills and manage marketing. I also still write part-time for the local paper. I love movies, music, art, photography and books, and my tastes in all of them are eclectic.

13 responses »

  1. Thanks for posting this! Thorin Oakenshield was one of my first hero/crushes (alongside Han Solo). I have to admit that I didn’t know who Richard Armitage was before this casting. When I heard that Peter Jackson was making The Hobbit I was overwhelmingly excited and nervous at the same time. Who could possibly portray Thorin?! I have harboured an image in my mind all these years of what he looked and acted like. No one could live up to those expectations. I was a nervous wreck attending the midnight premiere. I almost allowed the pessimistic side of my brain to take over. Disaster, I know it! However, within a few moments of Armitage taking the stage, I was hooked. He was beautiful and vibrant and complex and absolutely one hundred percent the Nordic warrior of my dreams πŸ™‚ I can gladly state that I am a Richard Armitage fan now. It will be Robin Hood on Netflix this evening!

    • It’s always hard when you anticipate a film of one of your favorite books and you really wonder if the casting is going to live up to your vision and expectations. I remember as child going to see a re-issue of Gone with the Wind (must have been the 30th anniversary of premiere) and my two older sisters, who had read the book, being very disappointed in Leslie Howard as Ashley Wilkes. Tney had been envisioning someone along the lines of Robert Redford, not a clearly middle-aged man who was not their idea of a romantic hero. They still loved the movie, but it tainted their pleasure a bit.

      I am glad Richard met your expectations. He’s an extraordinarly gifted and nuanced actor–so glad his wonderfully mobile face was not buried under heavy prosthetics–and he can also speak volumes with those beautiful eyes alone. And of course the voice. You would likely love listening to his unabridged narration of the book Lords of the North.

      Robin Hood can be pretty cheesy and campy at times (which is part of its charm) but he does an amazing job bringing Sir Guy to life. And as you stick with the series, you see how Richard gives Guy a breadth and depth the screenwriters probably didn’t initially plan. Once they realized what they had, RA’s screentime was increased. His role kept getting larger and larger until you just about could have called it The Guy of Gisborne Show. πŸ˜‰ For me, the hero of RH BBC 2006 was definitely not Hood–it was my flawed, complicated, conflicted, beautiful master-at-arms, Sir Guy.

  2. I agree with your sisters about the casting on Ashley Wilkes. Yikes! I also experienced such a disappointment when Interview With the Vampire came out. I tend to stick with literature that was written before the 1950s, but a friend convinced me to read Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles when I was sixteen. I was utterly blown away by the Vampire Lestat. He is my favorite literary character of all time (next to Thorin). He’s so brilliantly complicated. I was very excited for the film to come out, but was gobsmacked when they announced Tom Cruise as the lead. Sheer horror! And it was absolutely terrible 😦 I’m still angry over that one. Forever after I will see that sub par actor’s face in my mind’s eye…
    Happily, that is not the case this time around. I’m beyond thrilled with Armitage’s portrayal of Thorin! I’ve seen it twice already and am returning this weekend for another go round.
    BTW, I just watched the first episode of RH. I see what you mean about it being a bit cheesy…LOL. But, I’ll take your word for it and stick with it!

    • I was only nine but I have to say I certainly wasn’t impressed with LH, either. He looked rather weedy to me and every day of his age in the film and it was hard to understand a teenage Scarlett pining away for this guy. πŸ˜‰

      Tom Cruise. I know he’s an award-winning actor and very popular and all that, but it seems to me that Tom Cruise is always playing Tom Cruise, more or less. And his rampant egomania and control freak aspects haven’t endeared him to me exactly, either. Whereas with Richard, you have this very down-to-earth, unassuming guy who transforms himself for each role. I see Thorin, I see Guy, I see Monet, I see Thornton when I watch him on the screen. Whereas with Cruise, I see Cruise, wearing different costumes. World of difference. Cruise is a celebrity actor; Richard is an actor’s actor.

      I did want to give you fair warning about RH as I almost gave up on it (I really dislike the casting and writing for Robin himself) but then I noticed what RA was doing with Guy. Even when he’s in the background in a scene, he never breaks character, as some actors will do.

      In the beginning, they really wrote him as a nasty character and I did think “well, he’s a righty smarmy bastard. Good-looking, but a smarmy bastard.” But you get hints of all that is going on beneath the surface as the series progresses. By the last ep of S1, Guy had won my heart. And he and Richard have never let go of it. By S3, Richard’s performance takes on a sort of operatic grandeur. He took my breath away.

      I am amazed at how he even incorporated the hair extensions they gave him into the state of mind of the character in his story arc. Yep, he can hair act! πŸ˜‰ He can just plain ACT. I will love to hear more of what you think as you watch more of the show. πŸ˜€

  3. Monet? You mean the painter? Did he portray him on film? He’s one of my favorite artists.

    I really don’t like the fellow that they have playing RH. I’ve watched two episodes now…He’s not doing it for me.

    Tom Cruise is a particular nemesis of mine πŸ™‚ I’ll never forgive him for butchering the portrayal of Lestat. He just gives me the creeps anyway. LOL

    I only have a handful of actors that I like. They are all actor’s actors. I HATE celebrities. Unfortunately, the US is overrun by them. It’s not talent that counts here-just your popularity.

    I hate that I’ve had to knock Johnny Depp off of my list now 😦 He used to be a real actor’s actor, but unfortunately, he has fallen victim to the fame curse. After his brilliant role as Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean he started falling for the Hollywood glamour. Oh well! I guess Richard Armitage can take his place now!

    • Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. We are going out of town tomorrow to share Christmas with my family in Birmingham and was baking cookies last night in preparation. Yes, Claude Monet, portrayed by Richard in a television mini-series “The Impressionists” and well worth watching. Richard is positively incandescent as Monet. Really captures the intensity of the passionate artist so well. Even with a dodgy wig and beard that looks like a squirrel is glued to his chin, he shines.

      I think they really did a bad job of casting when they chose Jonas Armstrong as Robin. I guess they wanted to go against typecasting, but–he just doesn’t fit the heroic mold at all for me. He would have worked fine as a gang member, but not their leader. I actually prefer his gang to their leader.

      I think you can see why it was so easy for Richard to ultimately eclipse him on the show. πŸ˜‰ Better, more experienced actor with amazing charisma and presence. Also the screen chemistry that develops between Guy and Marian is so much more believable than with Marian and Robin. It’s a shame they didn’t make a different, better casting choice for the lead role.

      A lot of my favorite actors seem to be British. It’s not just that I am a sucker for the accent, although I am. They seem to have the training and discipline that is sadly lacking in a lot of US performers.

      Yeah, I am disappointed with Johnny, too. I loved some of his earlier stuff and he was great as Captain Jack. But it really does seem as if he’s gone Hollywood. 😦 honestly, that is something I do not see happening to RA. His US base is currently NY, which he says he prefers to LA and it seems a much better fit for him.

      I love his grounded, modest nature. When he was meeting fans on the set of Black Sky, one of the husbands was having his photo taken with Richard and said, “I’ve never had my picture taken with a movie star.” Richard just smiled and said, “I’m not a movie star.” Well, he is now. Very likely one of the nicest guys it’s ever happened to. And welcome to the fandom! Always glad to know another Ardent Armitage Aficionado. πŸ˜€

  4. Perhaps they should have cast RA as Robin Hood…Oh well!

    I’m a Brit fan as well. In fact, England is my favorite place in the world. I would move there if I could find a way. I feel much more at home there. Everything about the place is so much better!!

    I’m going to have to check out the Monet portrayal. I’ll have to find it.

    Thanks for the welcome! I’m having a great time meeting so many awesome people πŸ™‚

    Hope you have a lovely holiday. I’ll be writing an essay comparing/contrasting Thorin and Boromir-at DJ’s request.

    • He said he was too old for the role, although he would have only been in his mid-30s (Jonas is a decade younger). He actually auditioned for Vasey (the sheriff) and for Guy. Richard would have been one of the best if not the best RH ever–however, I came to love Guy so much I would have hated to miss out on his interpretation of the evil henchman, Oh well, indeed!

      I’ve only been to England once but I felt the same way. Oddly at home. My sister spent the summer she turned 16 overseas and studied at Balliol College at Oxford. She loved it, too, and has been back several times. We’ve talked about the possibility of genetic memory playing a role. My mother’s people were English, my father’s Scots-Irish. There were so many places we visited that I had read about or seen in films or television. So many favorite authors were/are British.

      I think The Impressionists in on YT in installments. I end up getting the DVDs because my high speed connection out here in the country isn’t very–high speed, that is. πŸ˜‰ Watching anything lengthy on YT requires a lot of buffering. It might also be available on Netflix.

      I haven’t participated in any other fandom, but I have to say there are a lot of very bright, talented, creative and wonderful people in the RA fandom from all over the world. It’s been delightful for me to get to know folks in Canada, Australia, Hungary, Poland, Switzerland, France, Belgium, Germany, New Zealand, Austria, England, Mexico, Spain, South America and more.

      I hope you have a great holiday, too–looking forward to the new essay. πŸ˜€

      Angie

  5. Woo! Holidays are over! I have written the essay on Thorin and Boromir. It’s on my blog. I’ve been spending the last week catching up on RA stuff. I didn’t know that he was in the Vicar of Dibley! That was my favorite show for years. I stopped watching it before the final season so, I had no idea that he was on it! I found the last two episodes with him on YouTube and loved them! Brilliant! I also didn’t know that he read poetry! I found some readings of him covering Hardy and Wordsworth. **Swoon** I’m an English poetry geek so he now has an A+ in my book! πŸ™‚

    • Cool! For some reason you came in as anonymous so I had moderate this one to get it posted. Oh the vagaries of WP! Isn’t he just adorable as Harry Kennedy? The character he says is most like him in real life. He’s also read some of Ted Hughes’ stuff, should be on YT. Swoonworthy. I could listen to him read the phone book.

      He’s recorded three Georgette Heyer audiobooks and an unabridged version of Cornwell’s Lords of the North.
      Would love for him to do more audio work if his schedule allows. Oh, he also told children’s stories for the Cbeebies, those are all on YT. He is delightful.

  6. I hope that you had a wonderful holiday! I wrote the essay on Thorin & Boromir. It’s posted on my blog. I’ve been spending the last week catching up on RA stuff. I didn’t know that he had been in The Vicar of Dibley! That was my favorite show for years! I stopped watching it before the last season so, I missed him. I found it on YouTube and loved it! Brilliant!! I also didn’t know that he read poetry! I found some recordings of him reading Hardy and Wordsworth **Swoon** I’m a major English poetry geek so, he has an A+ rating in my book now πŸ™‚

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