Versatile Armitage? Poll

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I was having a discussion with a Jonas Armstrong fan, and she said something which, as a Richard fan, really surprised me. Well, floored me actually.

This JA fan sees RA as always playing Richard Armitage. I believe she’s seen him as Guy, Lucas, Thorin and Harry (and possibly in other roles) and she said she thought he looked, sounded, and moved exactly the same in all the roles–Guy of Gisborne, just wearing different clothes.

Now, of course, I completely disagree with this assessment, but then she and I clearly have differing tastes in actors and, it would seem, acting styles. Upon this, we agree. 😀

As do we agree everyone has their own tastes and are entitled to their own opinions. And this post isn’t about slagging off on this particular individual, not at all. To each his or her own.

But this thought did pop into my mind and I felt compelled to follow up. And it’s been a couple of months since we’ve had a poll, too. So here’s your challenge, avid Armitage aficionados!

If you were introducing someone to Richard as a performer, and you wanted to demonstrate his versatility and range as an actor, which roles would you choose? Not necessarily your favorite roles, or the ones you think he looks the hottest in, you understand–but three you feel best showcase his varied talents. Which roles would those be?

I have listed twelve of his roles, both starring and supporting, and you can enter your own choice if you don’t see it listed among the choices given.  I would also love input as to why you’ve made these particular choices. Thanks for participating and commenting!

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.

79 responses »

  1. I didn’t pick my favourites, but roles where he is barely recognizable between them, portraying an artist, a warrior dwarf, and a Victorian industrialist. All three are driven men in their way, but so different, with such different voices, facial expressions, and body language. You can see the effect the same way you do when watching Daniel Day-Lewis in different roles.

    Another set of three would be Lee Preston, Ricky Deeming, and John Standring — again three very different men, with different accents and body language, all portrayed convincingly.

    A few Richard mannerisms appear (the TOC and the smirk, for example) in many roles, but not all. Yet to me, each role is distinct and unforgettable. Even those few minutes as Heinz Kruger are indelible.

    • I find it interesting that people have actually seen Richard in certain roles before he fully appears on their radar, and they don’t realize it until later–because he often does look, sound, move very differently. It’s more than just a change of hairstyle or clothes IMHO. Yes, I think DDL is another excellent example of an actor who submerges himself in the role.

      It’s almost impossible to imagine Lee Preston and John Standring being in the same body, isn’t it? I mean, the gorgeous man who doesn’t appear to have a shy (or faithful) bone in his beautiful body, and awkward Sweetie John, so incredibly shy, possessing such a faithful heart. Yes, Heinz–I saw facial expressions that I don’t ever remember seeing on that man’s face before. And I have seen that man’s face an awful lot of times. 😉 I think every actor has certain mannerisms that will tend to pop up in roles–I mean, we ARE human–but I still see Richard do an awful lot to make each performance distinctive.

  2. I agree, also, that we all have different tastes, and that is what makes us each unique. That said, you know what some of us have gone through to see TH, primarily to see Richard as Thorin Oakenshield. What would I do to see JA in anything? I might not change the channel on the TV.

      • Claude Monet, Guy of Gisborne and Harry Kennedy are my choices. These are three of my favorites and IMO they represent RA’s ability to portray diversity in his characters. Monet the exuberant artist, Harry the shy romantic, and Guy the tormented soul who just wants to be loved. Having said that, I think several of RA’s roles (Guy of Gisborne, John Porter, Lucas North, and now Thorin) have something in common – they’re all warriors. (To me it’s intriguing that someone who is a pacifist chooses so many warrior-like roles.) Although these roles might be considered “type casting,” I think they also display RA’s ability to create distinctly different and nuanced characteristics that distinguish each role.

        • I find that interesting, too, Sloan–a man who is so into nurturing and nourishment and so non-violent in real life ends up playing–and very believably, too–men (and dwarves) of arms. And I really don’t think of it as typecasting, either. Porter and Lucas may both be part of the security services, but are two very different characters, and Sir Guy stands apart from both of them. Thorin has flashes of Guy and even Thornton, but he’s his own man (er, dwarf). Richard does an amazing job creating subtle, nuanced, but very evident differences in the way the men move, speak and seemingly think.

  3. I should probably stop, but you’ve got me thinking now. Can you imagine a more different threesome than Harry Kennedy (cheerful, sunny, bookish), John Mulligan (seductive scary sociopath), and Guy (brooding, conflicted, and leather-clad heat)? Even the soldiers he has played are recognizably different. Porter is intelligent, compassionate, working-class, and damned good at his job. McAlwain is an officer born and bred, yet naive and unable to inspire the thugs he’s meant to command.

      • What about Paul from BTS (weak, well-meaning, in a passive-aggressive relationship), Philip Durrant (manipulative, selfish, in love with another woman), and Lucas North (cerebral, tough as nails, but vulnerable)? We see all of them as passionate, but in completely different ways.

        Again, we have three doctors, all quite different.

        You could think of this as a card game, scoring points with diverse melds.

        • I was trying to keep the poll from being too long–that’s why I limited it to twelve roles with some size to them–but yes, Paul is a definite stand-out for me, too. And Durant and—-oh, damn. He’s just so GOOD.

  4. I left my comment over at the poll – was that what i was meant to do? In short (although the comment wasn’t!) i picked John Standring, John Porter and John Thornton. JS and JP because i don’t think any actor alive could have brought as much depth and humanity to either of those characters as RA did. JT because most fans fell in love with him – there’s something in his performance that is utterly charismatic.

    It was tough though – Paul Andrews would also be a contender simply for RA’s ability to play a passive aggressive, sulky child.

    • I didn’t explain that part very well LOL I should have been asleep quite a while ago. But my brain started buzzing and now I think I’ve got Leigh’s going, too. 😉 It really is a rather fun and fascinating exercise.

      • Oh, mine’s buzzing alright. For the “Tis the Season” challenge at DF (to write about a chaRActer and a holiday you haven’t written about before), I’m working on a ficlet for Ian McAlwain at Hogmanay, and just taking a break to play with the poll and Lucky. One challenge writing NC17 is to write different men differently, not just play wish-fullfillment paper dolls.

        • Buzzing away indeed!! That’s very true about trying to vary things to suit the character. Even if they are all the same guy in different clothes. Sorry, I really AM trying to be good. *sigh* And I really do need to get some sleep.

          • Why be good when you can be a naughty wench and have delicious dreams? Let them take you away… Rest well, and may those visions of special “sugarplums” dance in your head.

          • Hot milk with honey and off to bed with you young lady! I used to work nights and 4-6am was always a battle to stay awake no matter how busy we were. Apparently the blood sugar is very low.

            Even now when i suffer insomnia i can feel myself waning at 4am..

            Sweet dReAms.

            • Three to four a.m. is known as the “hour of the wolf.” Typically, body temperature drops and metabolism slows. Statistically, this is when death is more likely to occur. So, if you can’t be asleep, you need something to rev the metabolism, increase the blood sugar, etc. And it’s a nuisance to have to wait for the testosterone rise at about 7:00 a.m.

              • Yes – we used to have raisin toast and hot chocolate to get the blood sugar up but it was still really difficult.

              • I’ve used ice cream in a cup of chocolate or coffee to get a longer “burn”. Carb + fat + caffeine = about 3 hours of waking energy; combine with a brisk walk for even five minutes to jump start the ignition.

              • This is just reminding me of how much i hated the night shift! And then the 6am drive home (joggers beware!) and then the noise of the city starting up just as i got into bed…

              • I was okay doing “graveyard” (11 to 7) for a time, but it took its toll, especially when I couldn’t crash right away. When I could nap on the train home, I could manage.

  5. Oh these differences in taste! I consider my twin sister conventional in her taste in actors, Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Johnny Depp are her top three, while I can honestly say that, though I can see that they don’t have disagreeable features, none of them feature at all for me, whereas Richard in any role gets under my skin! I watch any movement or expression with bated breath and tingling!

    I didn’t even recognise him as the same actor in the first roles I saw him in, Philip Durrant, Ricky Deeming and Guy. It was only after I watched North and South and felt an urgent desire to find out more about the incredible actor that I discovered it. That must speak volumes for his acting ability.

    • Like you, Milly, none of those “conventional” heart-throbs even register on my radar. Richard, on the other hand, makes his chaRActers matter to me, whether they are heroes, villains, or something in between. I’ll try to see “Black Sky”, for example, just because Richard is in it. Normally, disaster flicks do nothing for me.

  6. Leigh chose my choices as one of her alternatives: John Standring, Guy, and the third was a toss-up between John Mulligan and Lee Preston, both handsome phonies. All handle passion for a woman in very different ways. Egad! Senior moment! I can’t remember how I voted. Three choices aren’t enough. Harrt Kennedy should be there, too. So different from John S., Guy, Lee, even if he was playing a character like himself.

    Great idea, Angie. This poll will keep our brains hopping for a few days so we can get off how much that latest sexy video of yours HURTS! *smile*

  7. I can’t believe somebody would say something like that about Richard, I’m left without words, and clearly this Jonas Amstrong fan should have checked a bit more Richard’s work… Ok, I can see the similarity between Guy and Thorin, fair enough, but Harry and Lucas??? What the…??? And it’s so funny that you mention sweetie John and Lee in your comments, because those are the two I compared first in my comment, and I swear to God I hadn’t read yours! Great minds think alike, as they say… 😉

    This is what I’ve commented on the poll (I’m really sorry if I shouldn’t have done it that way):

    I’ve chosen John Standring, Lee Preston and John Porter. The difference between JS and Lee are blatantly obvious: John is painfully shy that he doesn’t even dare to look at Carol, whereas Lee, well, he would flirt even with the broom if you put a skirt on it!! John is loyal, strong and hard working, Lee hasn’t done a hard day’s work in his life… They are complete opposites and Richard played them both fantastically. And then there’s John Porter: JS and Lee are not particularly violent characters, however Porter is described in Strike Back as a killing machine (although always for good reasons), and again Richard plays strong characters like this so well!! I could go on with the list but I’m only allowed to choose three. IMHO Richard always disappears behind the roles, and for me the perfect example of that is John Mulligan: I love Richard to bits, but he played this baddie so well that he had me hating his guts and wanting to punch him… Mulligan, that is, not Richard, obviously!

    • I recommended strongly she see him as John Standring in Sparkhouse. Tell me THAT’s Guy of Gisborne/Richard in different clothes. 😉

      I knew limiting it to three was a challenge, but it makes our brains work a little harder in a fun pursuit, yes?

  8. I’d say Harry Kennedy–mostly because he’s not a complex character grappling with issues of good and evil. He’s just this nice and slightly nerdy guy.
    But I can kind of see where that JA fan is coming from, because I was thinking about how the John Bateman plotline in Spooks/MI-5 was so implausible to me. I realized that it’s because in order to buy that storyline you’d have to believe that John Bateman was a soulless shell pretending to be a noble and tragic figure because soulless is what spies really are — and one of the fundamental things about all Richard’s characters (the ones I’ve seen, anyway) seems to be this knowledge of right and wrong, of crime and punishment, of karma.
    If his characters do wrong, they know it’s wrong and they make that choice. They might regret it, or not, but they always know. There are people in the world who don’t believe justice exists, who don’t know where the line is, or who are too impulsive to care. But I am not sure that Richard would be cast in such a role — I don’t think he gives off those vibes of moral flexibility.

    • No actor should have been saddled with that totally ridiculous and OTT John Bateman scenario. If it had been in the hands of a less capable actor, the entire series 9 would have turned into total farce. As it is, there were moments when I thought I saw the faintest flicker in Richard’s eyes, as if he was thinking, “OMG, is anybody buying this??”

      • I saw it, too. At the same time, as I’ve said before, I thought it was one heck of an audition tape for the Richard III project. Meanwhile, some fanfic writers are dealing with the whole Bateman thing very creatively, most as an “implanted memory” that served his captors’ purposes, not real at all.

        • Oh, he gave an amazing performance, in spite of the writers doing their worst. I’ve thought of that angle, too, false memories implanted by those who tortured him for their own nefarious purposes.

          • I agree, RA did a fantastic job of selling the whole implausible premise. I recently read a fanfic that follows that implanted memory scenario, and liked it a lot.
            But I think that for any actor, while they can differentiate their characters through mannerisms and backgrounds and outward styles of behiavior, they are who they are, down deep.

  9. Two things. First be careful of JA fans. There is a long history of rivalry between JA and RA fans and some JA fans not only simply had a different taste (which is perfectly fine) but were really resentful that RA stole RH (obviously I don’t know if that is the case with the person you talked to). Some of them are a bit like TDKR fans on IMDb that would do anything to make the Hobbit fail.

    Second, RA plays way to many characters that are “brooding” and “conflicted”. RA is good at that and seems to be drawn to such characters, but it isn’t helpful if he wants to avoid typecasting. This certainly isn’t the first time I have heard the complaint that he always plays the same character. I long for him to play something completely different. Sadly, the roles that were different from the dark and brooding type are mostly smaller and a long time ago.

    • I didn’t know about the rivalry, but I guessed a certain resentment about Richard stealing the show, because let’s face it he did (what can I say, either you’ve got it, or you don’t). Make the Hobbit fail? They can try… I don’t think they’ll get very far…
      You’re right, Richard seems to be attracted to those roles, but he’s so good at it. Personally I’d love to see him doing some comedy, I’m not sure if he doesn’t do it because he’s not sure if he’ll be good at it. He’s recently said how brilliant is Martin at comedy and that he’d never be able to be as funny as he is, obviously I’m not quoting, but the thought was more or less that one. But I know he would be great and I’d love to see it. Maybe something together with Martin? If those “60 seconds with” videos are anything to go by, Richard and Martin would be fantastic in a comedy together.

      • I actually think that Richard and Martin would make a great comedy team. Richard makes a delightful “straight man” with Martin mugging away. I know RA has said he is “so not funny” but I disagree.

        • Richard can be very funny, even silly, but in a sweet and subtle way, like when he explains the joke to Alice in VoD. He’s just not a “comedian”, nor someone who uses insults or hurtful remarks to get a laugh, nor a clown who has to take a pratfall or wear a silly outfit. Slapstick doesn’t suit him at all.

  10. For a long time at the beginning of my fandom, I had difficulties, connecting his Guy of Gisborne to him at all. It took me about a year to really connect this role to him.
    So RA being himself in all roles just is completely not what I see. He even manages to get the role ahead of himself and stepping back as a person in favour of the role he takes on. Even his small role in “Frozen” is a perfect miniature of a ‘perfect’ and caring husband with family betraying his wife. So small his role is there, he steps back and lets the role speak.
    John Standring I still don’t like, though I admire the way he realises that role. It is so vivid and real, that it is too much for me to bear, knowing characters and people with the same background and way of living. It breaks my heart seeing him like that, so I just can’t. I don’t see RA acting, but I see John Standring having troubles which are too emotionally burdened for me to bear.
    Even RA’s outlook between roles changes so much, that when I refered a friend to some of his films, she did not even recognize him as being the same actor between his diverse roles. So RA playing himself in all his roles is totally out of the question and I only can place that comment as being defensive, not realistic.

    • Actually, Wydville and I have discussed how much Guy is completely unlike what we know of Richard Armitage. You watch Richard in one of the interview clips from RH, and he seems genuinely startled at how ferocious the character can be at times. Here’s sweet, soft-spoken, laid-back RA, snarling and sneering onscreen.

      I understand what you mean about finding Sparkhouse difficult to watch. I love John S. but my heart also breaks for him, for I totally believe in the reality of this character and the pain and heartache he is experiencing. He was brilliant in that role.

      And I agree with your final comment, too, Cristine. 😀

      • Yes, you and Wydville have a point. Guy is not about being generous, kind, charitable, “nourishing and nurturing”, “extra forgiving”, reserved, or soft-spoken — things we know Richard is. Guy draws his sword first and thinks later. He roars when he could whisper. He strides through Nottingham, sneering and smirking, and being mean to peasants in the name of the sheriff. Even pursuing redemption, he does not do it quietly. He is conflicted; he never wins even when the odds are on his side; he has to deal with a nasty employer who sexually harasses him and kills his friend; he’s crazy about a woman who lies to him and deceives him constantly, etc. About the only things Guy has in common with Richard are good equestrian skills, mouth-watering gorgeousness, being capable of tenderness, and sheer heat.

          • These are the questions, aren’t they? There aren’t any other chaRActers like Guy, unless all you are paying attention to is the heat..

            • I wonder if she was so turned off by Guy as her beloved Robin’s enemy that she can only see Guy every time she sees Richard Armitage. And so now she perpetually links Guy and RA in her head and anything else he does is colored by this skewed perception, perhaps??

              • I think the whole RA always plays RA (or Guy… whatever) argument is a bit daft. I can’t think of a single actor who doesn’t carry similarities and mannerisms across roles and when someone is very familiar with a particular character, of course they are going to hear and see things in another role that echo. I saw bits of Guy and Thornton in Thorin but what of it? They are all men fighting to regain what has been lost by their fathers so why wouldn’t there be similarities? But i can honestly say i didn’t spot Lee, JS or Harry in Middle Earth. When i’ve seen JA on TV, he always reminds me of RH, but that is probably because that’s the role i am most familiar with. I’m too well mannered (and fair) to accuse JA of being a one trick pony.

              • Of course, certain mannerisms or expressions are going to crop back up in certain roles–we are somewhat inherently limited in what we can do with the face and body we’ve been given, after all.

                But I do think RA does an amazing job of varying things from role to role, even with the roles that bear some superficial resemblance to one another. I sure as heck didn’t see any Sweetie John, Lee or Harry in Thorin, that’s for certain, even if I saw flashes, glimmers of Thornton and Guy (I have always seen connections between those two characters).

                I do think it’s fundamentally unfair to say Richard basically only plays one character over and over again. Especially when and if you’ve only seen a handful of those roles and you seem to have a built-in bias against him to begin with. As for Jonas, he’s a decent actor who was an extremely poor choice for the lead role in RH (again, in my opinion), a role I also found poorly written and directed, and I admit that could color MY feelings about him as an actor. But like many, many other actors, including some considered very talented heartthrobs, he doesn’t have “it” for me and never will.

                Again, no accounting for tastes . . .

              • I have a feeling that is not disliking the antagonist of the hero. I think some JA fans felt JA as the lead had an “inborn” right to be the best and most successful actor in the show. And that RA fans somehow went against the “rule” by preferring RA/Guy.

              • I think that is certainly part of it, Jane. For me, however, an actor has to earn the right to be considered best and most successful actor on any show. It’s not the first time a supporting player has eclipsed the actor who is supposed to be the star of the vehicle and likely won’t be the last. 😉

                And honestly, I usually do prefer the hero; I am not someone who automatically goes for the “bad boy” type. I have always liked the legend of RH. But I hated the way this version was written and sorry, folks, but IMHO, JA was miscast to play the lead. I have the same problem with Stephen Moyer as Bill in True Blood. He just doesn’t impress me in the role and thus, I prefer the “bad boy” Eric, played by Alex Skarsgard (as do many others, apparently).

                Sorry there are so many hard feelings out there re Robin Hood, but–it is what it is. Or was what it was. Time to move on . . .

              • Weird. Often, someone who is not the lead engenders more interest. Famous case in point, in the original “Star Trek” Wm Shatner was the lead, but fans were crazy about Leonard Nimoy.

              • Spock was our favorite when we watched the show as kids. We thought he was interesting and “cute.” 😉 I will forever have a soft spot for William Shatner, however, such a ham and doesn’t mind admitting it.

              • LOL! I also saw Shatner as the Ghost of Christmas Present in a Hallmark Christmas movie–one of those updated sex-change versions of A Christmas Carol–and he was hilarious.

  11. Loved your post and poll. Richard Armitage is a chameleon who inhabits each character portrayal so distinctly that I have no earthly idea who the “real” man might be. Ha! Though RA has said himself he is more like Harry Kennedy. Sighhhh!

    And the list of character portrayals in your poll is quite reflective of RA’s versatility as an actor. Experiencing any of the subtly nuanced Armitage character portrayal is so immersive that we are transported to other places and times with his storytelling.

    P.S. And Jonas Armstrong? In fairness, I can’t assess his acting because I have only seen him in Robin Hood. So I don’t know if he has any range or not.

  12. If people don’t see his versatility yet, plenty of us could recommend roles that would showcase it. I know you want to see him in “To Kill a Mockingbird”; another writer wants to see him in “For Whom the Bell Tolls”; another wants him to do “The Razor’s Edge.” For comedy, why not dredge up “The Ghost Goes West”? It has romance, comedy, and our hero in a kilt and a tux! How’s that for a combo? I begin to wonder if there’s anything he can’t do.

    • Interesting how we want to see him in remakes of so many classic films, isn’t it? He’s got that old-fashioned sort of screen presence and magnetism. I haven’t seen The Ghost Goes West in ages, but I agree. I really do think once the man sets his sights on a particular role, he will nail it.

      • There are never-done stories I’d like to see him film, too, but part of it is getting the rights, getting a decent screenplay from the written work, finding someone who wants to produce and direct — years and a heap of work, money, and intent. Yet somehow, rubbish films get made every year with name-brand actors and I have to wonder who thought they would be worth it….

        • Me, too, some classic from literature, but it is a complex matter. Look at how long it took to get The Hobbit to the screen, and that was after the first trilogy had proven a solid hit!! It seems like there are far more bad to mediocre films made each year–films derivative of hits, or yet another sequel . . .

  13. Of course RA is versatile!!! I cannot see John Porter, John Thornton and Thorin Oakenshield, for instance, as played in the same way. They are all different characters and Richard gave them life differently and properly. Watching him as Thorin just made me foresee the promising career he has in movies ahead. Well, we all know he is awesomely talented and charismatic for a brilliant career worldwide.

  14. Great poll idea – and my thread choices ate winning the poll too! I think your JA fan is just suffering from a little bit of rivalry and envy…

    • I think there is this feeling that perhaps RA is getting the breaks that JA hasn’t–there still seems to be an underlying resentment that the character of Guy basically eclipsed that of Robin in the series. She honestly was trying to be nice about it in our conversation as was I, but it is clear she really believes Jonas to be the more talented and versatile of the two performers. Granted, I have only seen Jonas in a couple of things, and mostly in RH, as I told her, but he just doesn’t make anything like the impression Richard makes on me. She did mention people discussing that RA should have been cast as RH instead of JA (although I personally would have hated to miss out on the glory that was Gisborne) and I think that still rankles. But as I mentioned, it’s been three years since the show last aired, it is time to move on.

      • Yes, time to move on. Personally, I don’t see Jonas Armstrong as a force to be reckoned with, based on three seasons of RH and five episodes of “Ghost Squad” (I think that was the name of the series), but I know that people will disagree. Sometimes actors suffer from poor writing or direction, but time will tell, I think.

        • I don’t either, and that’s not saying he’s a bad or incompetent actor; just that there’s a lot of other actors of the same calibre, which I don’t think is the case with RA. I do believe and will always believe he was miscast as RH. As you say, time will tell, and the cream will rise to the top.

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