‘A concentrating actor’: Richard on his acting & the challenges of The Hobbit

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 From Facebook. Thanks to Ali at Richard Armitage Net for the link. Well worth reading, although I found myself sorely tempted to edit out some typos. 😉 How do you spell Oakenshield??
One of the most interesting aspects is we now know RA definitely doesn’t think of himself as a Method actor.
Having read Alfred Hitchcock’s fascinating bio recently and learned how he wanted a leading man with sexual charisma and a dark, edgy, dangerous feel (and wasn’t always able to get what he wanted due to studio issues), I’ve envisioned RA in a Hitchcock film. After all, one of his favorite films is one of Hitch’s-“North by Northwest.”
However, Hitch was not particularly fond of Method actors, who frequently tried his patience (he actually had more affection and respect for the acting profession than has been reported; after all, his daughter, Patricia, became an actress).   However, I think the director would have found working with RA very rewarding indeed . . .
Alfred Hitchcock, head-and-shoulders portrait,...

Alfred Hitchcock, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing right (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – Richard Armitage (Thorin Okensheild) DVD Q
by Magnavision Home Video (Notes) on Wednesday, April 3, 2013 at 12:44am

QUESTION: What was the greatest challenge for you to act in this film?

RICHARD ARMITAGE: I think the greatest challenge of taking on Thorin was to attempt to make such a physical transformation feel real.  Our body shapes change.  We wore a considerable amount of padding, huge boots and a facial prosthetic which at first was kind of limiting. It meant that you had to animate your own face more to make sure that the expression that you were feeling inside was being transported through the makeup. So that was a physical challenge. In terms of the character I think layering the character with this inner fear of driving sickness and madness and the horror of what happened in the mountain; but at the same time show his dwarves the face of a leader that was not afraid, that was something that fascinated me.

QUESTION: Had you been a fan of the books?  Did you grow up reading the series?

RICHARD ARMITAGE: I read “The Hobbit” when I was 11 years old.  Then when I was 13, I was in a stage production, a very local piece of theater with no money. Gollum was made of paper, I remember that very clearly.  I was paid 15 pounds a week.  But that led me on to read “The Lord of the Rings.”  Then I watched the animated version, which was never finished, in the ’80s. I remember being very frustrated that it was never finished.  Then, of course, Peter[Jackson]’s trilogy defined the entire cannon in Middle Earth and that was incredibly fulfilling. I went back to read Rings again after that.

Gollum in Ralph Bakshi's animated version of T...

Gollum in Ralph Bakshi’s animated version of The Lord of the Rings (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

QUESTION: Do you feel that there’s a certain sequence or scene that stands out as your favorite part of the film?

RICHARD ARMITAGE: From my viewing of it, or from my playing in it?

QUESTION: Let’s take it from your viewing.

RICHARD ARMITAGE: The sequence I found incredibly moving is the sequence at the end when the eagles pick up the injured party and take them to safety.  I think all of the ordeals that this crew has gone through and the terrible dilemma that maybe their leader is dead is traumatic.  There’s this incredibles oaring sequence of stillness.  It feels like some kind of salvation; I was moved to tears when I saw that moment because it’s such a relief after such extreme circumstances.

In terms of what was the most important moment for me to film, I think my first time on location,which was being directed by Andy Serkis. I was helicoptered to the top of a mountain where there were no roads or no power cables. There was no sign of any human life there.  There were just three of us dwarves with some food in a backpack. He did 360 degree helicopter shots all day.  So we were left alone in character.  I remember feeling absolutely immersed in the character.  It’s in the prologue; I’m thrilled by that.

thehobbit-p1_0390

QUESTION: Would you describe yourself as a method actor?

RICHARD ARMITAGE: No I wouldn’t.  I wouldn’t describe myself as a method actor.  I think other people apply that label.  I think I’m a concentrating actor.  So in order to do my work in the course of a day, particularly with a character like this I have to concentrate.  So it’s about staying in the scene, staying with my head in the scene and attempting to keep the character with me.  It doesn’t mean I can’t have a conversation or go and make a cup of coffee. But I actually stay with the character for 18 months.

QUESTION: Other than your own character, who’s your favorite?

RICHARD ARMITAGE: I think my favorite character has to be Mr. Baggins.  He’s the heart of the story.  He’s the character that the audience fall in love with and follow on his journey.  They fear for him, they hope for him.  He’s endearing and hilarious to watch.

the_hobbit_an_unexpected_journey_bonus_disc_t04-mkv_001698654

Oh, Richard, it’s not just Bilbo with whom audiences fell in love. Thorin has his own legion of admirers, too. Thank you for all you did to bring him to life for us.   (HD screencaps courtesy of Heirs of Durin and DarkJackal–thanks!)

12 responses »

      • Yeah, it’s not all new but there’s enough that’s different and interesting that makes it a good read, especially when he talks about his acting process and the whole Method actor label.

        • I like it – I now especially like my inaugural blog post since I know now it includes one of the favorite scenes of the man himself! 🙂 *breaking arm patting self on back*

          • That’s right!! *virtual pat on back from Alabama*

            I love that scene, too, and the one he spoke of requiring the helicopter. I love that the mountaintop was real and not CGI . . . that reminds me of a question I’d like to ask him, now that he’s worked with both Andy and Peter as directors. What are their similarities and differences as directors, their approach to directing . . .

            • It is just such a HUGE visual – I think a lot of the impact would have been lost in CGI – think “300”….I too have been compiling a list of questions. Maybe someday we could get a list together, edited for duplicates and idiocy ( 🙂 ) and perhaps get a virtual Q&A…maybe…someday….

              • Yes, it’s sweeping . . . just breathtaking, the grand scale of it. Makes you feel the weight of what’s fallen on his shoulders, leading his people out into this big world.

                I don’t think the virtual Q and A is out of the question. As long as we don’t do it in Twitter . . . just a nice email so he can respond in his own good time and in as many characters as he chooses. 😉

              • Yep, wouldn’t want to go through that again, except that the Tweets on my TL were highly entertaining. 😉 Better than event itself!

  1. Our dear, modest guy thinking that everyone falls in love with Bilbo–when we can’t take our eyes off of him (and I think quite a few other people are finding that as well).

    • We’ve seen it with the increasing number of new RA fans brought to the fandom through encountering Thorin. If John Thornton was his first iconic character, surely our majestic Thorin is another?

      • For me, all of his roles are iconic–who else could go into “Robin Hood” and have all the fans falling madly in love with the villain? Or make John Standring so memorable that he is what stands out in the dark landscape of “Sparkhouse”? Or create such an iconic hero from John Porter, a man portrayed as a trained killer much of the time? I could go on and on–but yes, Thorin is definitely his latest icon in the film pantheon, and I believe he will always be remembered.

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