Category Archives: inspiration

Porter & North: Soldier & Spy Saturday (NEW edits/old vids)


Two men, intelligent, resourceful and quite ruthless when necessary. Both willing to put their lives on the line to save others. Both knowing the last bullet may be the one they have to use on themselves, their mission fully deniable by the government they serve. Men who have endured deprivation, torture and humiliation, haunted by their pasts, determined to reclaim their honor, to do their duty. Two men, tough and yet capable of great tenderness, too. Although flawed and damaged, they are still good, decent men. True heroes we can respect and admire. Thank you, Lucas North and John Porter, and thank you, Richard Armitage, for so beautifully and memorably bringing these two complex characters to life for us.




Thorin Therapy: All Hail the HAIR!


With the recent photos of RA’s growing Mullet of Magnificence, thoughts turn to Thorin’s long and flowing tresses, the sort of hair many a female would envy (and many long to run their dainty little fingers through, to braid and unbraid . . . *sigh*) Yes, ’tis a wig, but RA works that marvelous mane, baby and makes it, like the character, his own.

There’s nothing like Thorin and his . . . HAIR. Hallelujah, I adore it!

(all photo edits are by fedoralady. Please credit if posting elsewhere. Thank you!)








Happy Father’s Day: Tough Portah as Lexie’s Tender Daddy



A real man can be strong and tough and still be gentle, providing consoling hugs, kisses to heal boo-boos and  offering comforting, tender words for those he loves.


Richard Armitage does a brilliant job of making John Porter believable as not just a tough, kick-ass SAS hunk, but as a loving dad, desperate to maintain a relationship with his little girl after his world falls apart. A dad who thinks of her when it looks like he may not get out of the latest adventure alive. A dad who cries with her even though they are thousands of miles apart . . .


Look at how he so fully embraces her, at the contented smile on his face. How can you not believe? And love him just a little bit more.

Guyday Friday: Sir Guy returns to tease & take care of LW


“Oh, good grief, Sir Guy, I think my insides have been turned out,” Ladywriter groaned as she fell back against the pillows, gingerly stroking her tummy.

“Ahhhh, and not in a good way, I fear,” the Dark Knight murmured. He raised one quizzical brow and proceeded to prop his glossy black boots on the bed railing as he leaned back in the chair, arms characteristically folded across his broad chest.

“When is it ever?” LW groaned.  She’d woken up in the wee hours hungry after missing a couple of meals the day before, and now had paid the price for that peanut butter and banana sandwich, followed by a fun size Twix bar. So much for fun.

It had tasted good at the time . . . cursed Irritable Bowel Syndrome!

“Well . . . I have been known to do unusual things to ladies’ insides,” Sir Guy drawled, that devilish gleam in his kohl-rimmed blue eyes teasing her.

A gimlet-eyed Ladywriter snorted and threw a pillow at him, which he nimbly caught and then tossed aside. His eyes softened and, setting his boots on the carpet, he leaned forward to take LW’s hand and give it a gentle squeeze.

“Forgive me, dearest LW. I cannot resist being playful with my favorite queen of her own alternate universe . . . truly, shall I bring you something to give you comfort?”

“A Coke on ice–lots of ice. And–we could just sit and talk for a while . . . it’s been a difficult week, Sir Guy.” LW gave a little sigh and smiled up into those beautiful azure eyes.I’ve missed you, my favorite hot velveteen henchman.”

He returned her smile, and she did feel a curious sensation–butterflies in her stomach?–that was a definite improvement on her earlier condition. 

Oh, the effect you do have on us, my beautiful Gisborne.

“Of course you’ve missed me, and I, you.” Sir Guy pressed a kiss to the palm and then the back of her hand. “I am forever yours.”

And forever, Friday will be—Guyday in the kingdom of Lady Writer.

It’s Guyday Friday!!






Just had to share these for Thorin Thursday.




More charming and saucy Thorin/RA inspired fanart from Facebook via Tumblr.  Oh, Cbeebies Thorin and the lads!  Please note the careful addition of Orcrist to the portrait of Naked Calendar Thorin. *ahem*

379723_364553726979124_761345974_n  And from Tanni Tani’s Hobbit Cats project–these handsome pair of alluring felines. 😉

And this gorgeous piece of fanart by Kimberly from Facebook of Thorin and his grandfather.



And my own Thorin photo edit. Happy Thorin Thursday, y’all!

Look for the good in the bad, the happy in the sad . . .



It’s been a rather tough day, after an unpleasant night. I am well behind on social media and keeping up with other’s blog entries. A lot on my plate at present, a lot on my mind.

Someone very dear to me, a relative by marriage and a person with a great heart for animals and their welfare in our county, has been hurt by someone else with an equal passion for animals but very little tact and diplomacy. My sister-in-heart has actually been having bad dreams, worrying this may negatively impact our organization’s efforts to help find homes for as many animals as possible.

Yesterday at our humane society board meeting I saw my dear friend cry as she spoke of this. I had to get up and give her a hug. I also gave her the advice above, and I think it may have helped, at least at little. And maybe it will help some of you. I think we also need to remember the words below:


I have struggled at times with my self-image; I suspect many of us have done or do so, including our own dear Mr. Armitage.  He grew up doubtful of his looks, uncomfortable with his height, never as certain of his talent as he might have wished to be. One of the things I appreciate most about him is the honesty with which he shares his own struggles.

It hasn’t been easy for him by any stretch of the imagination, nothing was ever handed to him on the proverbial silver platter; he’s earned the successes he’s now achieving. It’s said that good things come to those who wait, but in Richard’s case, I would say good things come to those who are patient and still plug away, keep working, keep perfecting their craft, keep behaving like the class act they are. Our awkward duckling has blossomed into this elegant, beautiful swan, while the boyishly cute fellows who relied on their cheeky charm and dimpled smiles are left in the dust.


I’ve said I think he makes a great role model for other actors and people in general– after all, he’s a true, old-fashioned gentleman and a real professional with a strong work ethic and willingness to be a good team player.


I think this is what RA strives for in his work and life. I’d like to be the same. I don’t have his good health and natural athleticism, and I am afraid I’d never be able to endure all he does physically; still, when I look at him and his example, I know I’d like to be a better, stronger person in every way.

And so, even though it’s not been a “good” day, there are lessons to be learned, things to be gleaned and tomorrow to look forward to. I leave you with these words of wisdom . . .


And this adorable image (oh, Uncle Thorin had a few bad days, too, and more than just facing Azog and dragons!)


Somewhere over the rainbow . . . you’ll find RA and the gang



The lovely Graham McTavish shared this photo on Twitter tonight, saying, “This is a view from our base camp on one of our locations for The Hobbit. This is really what NZ looks like!”

A beautiful country. A gigantic film trilogy that feels like the world’s “biggest home movie,” the first film a worldwide success with fans counting down the days until the next installment. A small city of people putting their skills and talents to work in what appears to be a labor of love.

I am certain there are squabbles and flares of temper and days when people are so tired they can hardly see straight.  In spite of the varied creatures they play, they are, after all, only human.

Still, to do something you really love, something that captivates you and motivates you–that is a joyous experience.


And to do it all in a place that looks like that. Your brain would have to be feeling pretty joyous!

And the friendships they’ve developed must be so special. Not surprised to hear Graham say he was worn out from all the hugging they did upon their reunion in New Zealand.  I’ve become incredibly fond of the gang, as I think of them; the feeling amongst them seems to be the same.

BeFunky_taminner1 (1)RATamie.jpg

Richard Armitage in his Thorin guise giving makeup and prosthetic artist Tami Lane a hug. Of course, we are NOT envious.


Have a wonderful time, Richard, in that glorious land called New Zealand.  Goodness knows, you deserve every minute of it.

The Power of a Character: Thorin conquers the world



Richard smouldering into the camera during the shooting of the scene where he confronts the very-much-not-dead Pale Orc.

I’ve been reading the comments left over at DJ’s blog, Heirs of Durin, on a guest post by Anjy Roemelt celebrating the brotherhood and spirit of Thorin and his company of dwarves. I admit I especially enjoy the comments that pay homage to Thorin and to his Creator, Richard Armitage (yes, I know you are totally surprised at that).

I continue to be delighted over the impact this ChaRActer, and ultimately, the Creator, is having on people of all ages around the world.  Richard’s majestic presence, his use of body language and those mesmerizing eyes through which he is able to express so much about his character, not to mention that amazing, deep, rich voice–which simply cannot be replicated by dubbing actors, sorry.

Here’s what a German-speaking fan and mother of young children had to say. These comments are as written; I have italicized some passages.

(Melian commenting at Heirs of Durin on post “What’s So Special About These Dwarves?)

“I was in fear about the changing of Thorins character in part 3 when I started to deal with his character deeper but now I am not. To come closer to Thorins character made my understanding of his deeds and the reasons for as big that I cant imagine now to turn away from him because of his acts in the last part. I will feel with him and will be sorry and sad but I will not judge him, I am very sure of it

. What you told about perfection is the same I also think. Aragorn is perfect to adore him but too perfect to identify with him, he is a hero almost without faults and thats impossible to be. Another character in another movie told once a quote fitting well to that fact: “There are no perfect human beeings…only perfect intensions” (Azeem out of “Robin Hood, King of Thieves” Thats why we love Thorin: He is not as perfect, he has the same fault like we have, he does the same mistakes we do, he makes the same wrong decisions we make sometimes…and thats why he is our hero , a character so close to ours that we can see us in him…

I had to smile reading about your sons obsession….I have a son of now 8 and a daughter of 5…and both are infected with her mothers Hobbit-obsession, to the eyerolling amusement of my husband too. My son get read the book when he was 5 and he felt the end is sad and unfair…now he is reading the Hobbit himself…as the first book he will read ever….other children learn to reads with a fairy-tale maybe… son with Tolkien….lol….and he never forgot about the end!

After more than 2 years he remembered and brought up that subject again….and so his little sister realized about too…she was also crying then and telling thats terrible sad and unfair. I have to say both saw the movie (except the war-scenes I wiped out of course) and both loved it…they know most of the english scenes and the whole movie in German…although they cant speak english they understand all scenes and can speak in German what is happen in english…every evening they want to see some scenes…and want to speak about it.


Both of them love Thorin…my daughter likes another figure every week but Thorin stays on the top…..and often she ask me about that end…WHY??? Knowing nothing about psychology, seeing a grumpy and harsh Thorin in the movie they even understand his essence…only by feeling… ..I found your part about the translation very good…they may use the right words but it is not the same!

First is that no German speaker is able to copy the deepth and expression of Richards voice…its not his fault because its simply impossible to reach….but some scenes have a totally changed atmosphere in German compared with the original, as Thorin and the Goblinking, the scene with the map and Elrond in Rivendell or even the Carrock-scene.

Since I saw it first time in english I adore Richard even more…his voice for acting is extraordinary like Freddy Mercury`s was for singing…nearly nobody could reach that score…It makes the beautiful parts even more beautiful …but the sad parts more sad too…”

A portion of Misty’s comment:

 ” . . . This is not the little story I expected, but something stunning, mesmerizing,
amazing, awesome.

Except that at the beginning, when Thorin entered at Bag End,
I thought, my goodness, this is a KING, with capital letters and with all what
it means, but then the way he talked to Bilbo looking down on him, disappointed
me for a few minutes and I thought that the much he looks awesome the arrogant
he is and if I have to be watching this guy for almost three hours I would go

And then came the scene when he says “I would take each and every one of
these dwarves over an army from the Iron Hills” and that he had no choice, only
to make me realize that I have never been so wrong in all my life, and to be
angry with myself for judging by first impression.

And of course by the end of the film I was obsessed. And still I am.


As much as I have never been with any
character in all my life and as much as I myself would have never expected. And
as you say, no sign of cooling down.

And this obsession is not only due to a handsome face (though it would of course

be foolish to deny that it adds a good deal). It is more due to Thorin’s character.

We do not fall in love with Aragorn
(or at least I never did – though of course liked him). Because he is so
‘perfect’, judging by human standards.

We fall in love with Thorin. Because he is not so ‘perfect’ by Aragorn’s standards.

But he is perfect for us. Because he is more HUMAN.

With all the nobility and flaws going with it. And HUMAN also
means having flaws, making mistakes sometimes, reacting to situations not always
in the best manner or as others would expect us… That is why he is so close to
us. And I think he can be loved even more for those.

He can be loved because he proved himself to deserve and be worth to be loved.


So let me put it this way: I
would risk to take it even this far (and I have made a similar comment elsewhere
on the site): ‘king’ is a title, in the sense of ranks.

But primarily he is a person, just like you or me.

And are there any persons who never make mistakes?
And if your answer is no (I guess it is), then why criticize Thorin for making
I would not dare to quote what my husband says about all this,
especially now that my six-year-old (OK, almost seven) son has also become a
massive fan.


He himself has seen the film at least three times (and me… I do not
even know now, how many times) and is still begging me to see it even more. And
he also asked me to read out the book for him. And he often comes up to me
saying: ‘Mom, let us talk about The Hobbit.’ And I try my best to explain him
things and he remembers them the next day, in three days time, in a week’s

Of course after the film I could not wait to purchase the book and read
it both in the original and on my mother tongue. Imagine me, I did not know
before the film made me dig deep into the issue what the end of the story would
be, and I was totally shocked when I found out.

And imagine my son, when he
found out that they would die, he cried for like twenty minutes. And sometimes
he still asks me whether I was sure that it has to be this way, whether the film
could end differently…
After having seen the film in my mother tongue (of
course it was in Hungarian in the cinema) I could not wait either to watch in
the original, to hear the original voices (Richard’s is just mesmerizing), and
also to find out about the original words used, as sometimes they are not
properly translated or even if they are, I mean the words used in the
translation are correct, still they cannot reflect the same feeling (and I did
detect some).

My son, who does not speak English (yet – only a few words),
watched the film in Hungarian, but then he also watched it with me in English as
well, just to be part of the original.”

There are many more interesting comments at the blog, which is linked here:

I look at the growth in the fan base, seen through comments such as these, along with new FB pages, blogs and other social media devoted to Thorin Oakenshield, and I know that Richard’s dream of bringing this character to life on screen has been resoundingly successful.  I hope the newly obsessed will also go on to discover his work in earlier roles, to study Porter and North, Thornton and Gisborne, and outstanding turns in supporting roles such as John Standring in Sparkhouse, Ricky Deeming in George Gently and Percy Courtney in Marie Lloyd. Oh, such wealth there is to discover, my friends!

I knew I woke up before dawn for a reason. Read. this. now. *squee*


PT: It’s remarkable. And the female response to your character and obviously yourself, which I find fundamentally puzzling. I mean, you’re a nice looking bloke, I’m sure you can act a bit.

RA: I can string a sentence together and walk and talk without bumping into the furniture. But that’s about it.

PT: Why?

RA: You know what? You need to point the microphone into the audience. Actually, don’t do that. I don’t know. I’ve been really lucky. I’ve got a really loyal little fan base of very well-educated, well-read ladies. Well I don’t think they’re all ladies. God, you know. But they’re incredibly supportive. I often do a lot of research. I didn’t know I was doing a Q & A screening until I read it on one of the websites and they were booking tickets. I was like, ‘Oh, that’ll be nice. I better brush my hair then’. No, they’re great. They’re really supportive. I try to look after them.

A fantastic  pre Q&A interview by Popcorn Taxi with Richard Armitage has appeared at their site! This one is really a goodie IMHO. Lots of info about the process of getting into his characters mentally and physically, which I always find fascinating.

RA’s relaxed, thoughtful, witty, silly and thoroughly delightful and the interviewer does manage to ask new questions! And not a word about that bloody circus! WIN. Click on the link to read it all:


Have a happy Monday, everyone!

‘I would definitely go to the mountain.’ RA answers fan questions for WB


Here is Warner Brothers Q&A based on fan questions submitted via Twitter. Thanks to Ali at RANet for the heads-up.

Richard. Thank you so much for taking the time. Thank you for having me.

So we have a few questions from the fans if you do mind. Go right ahead.

Dave Cooper asks: Were you envious of any of the other dwarf’s beards? Um. Yes. I have to say that Jed Brophy’s… because it was just this crazy kind of series of platted snakes and it looked fantastic when it was undone. So yes. Jed’s beard. Nori…. He also runs a sushi shop in Erebor.

Really? <Laughs>

Patricia Ryan asks: Did you agree with Peter Jackson’s decision for your character to leave the burning tree and try to fight the goblins, rather than stay up the tree, like in the book? {Thinks}. Yes. I think it was important to show Thorin, at that point in the story, taking control of the situation and rising to his heroic prowess.You know, this is how the king under the mountain… or the potential king under the mountain… would have behaved so yeah I was in agreement.


Peter Stroud asks: How do you cope with fans obsession with your character and associating your person with that character? I think the fans’ obsession with the character is why the fans turn out to see the movie so… you know… it is every character in the story, um, has their own group of fans and it is when you construct a character based on a beloved book that you have that interest so… I don’t mind the association with myself and the character though I don’t feel I am particularly like him in real life.

Merilyn Wigley wants to know: Thorin is a leader by birth so leadership seemingly comes naturally to him, do you consider yourself a natural born leader or is it something you work at? I am more a natural born listener so I have to work at that kind of leadership but, I think, when you are given the sort of goal that the dwarves have it is unachievable without someone who steps up to the plate. Thorin is that guy.


Blaise Terek asks: How long does it take to get all the make-up etc on each day & did you do your own stunts? It takes about three hours from sitting in the chair to walking on set. That prosthetics for an hour and forty five and then the hair takes about forty five and a bit of beard adjustment. I did most of my own stunts. The only things I can’t really do myself are the big falls which we haven’t seen yet but all the wire work I did myself and the fights I did myself, with the help of the stunt double of course.

Janette Hardy has asked: Did you feel nervous stepping into The Hobbit after the huge success of its movie predecessor The Lord of the Rings? Yes I was nervous, but at the same time it was nervous excitement because I love that world, I love the Lord of the Rings movies and walking into Bag End for the first time was both exciting and exhilarating.

Siobhan Lamerton asks if you could have seven people dead or alive over for dinner who would you pick? Wow. Okay. Um. Well if we stick on a movie theme how about Peter Jackson, Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Christopher Nolan, Alfred Hitcock, Orson Welles and Buster Keaton. I think they would have a good discussion about film. Or an argument.

Alaya Yu said Hi Richard,My question is: if you were Thorin Oakenshield,  would you go to the lonely mountain as in the books and the films or stay in blue mountain creating better life with your people? I would definitely go to the mountain. I think it is very much unfinished business, and I like to think I would set out on the journey with the intention of writing the wrongs of my ancestors… but, I would hope I could resist succumbing to the dragon’s sickness.


Danni Roberts asked: You are such an amazing actor, what was the hardest part of preparing for your role as Thorin? Um, The hardest part of preparing for Thorin was finding the voice for the character and also trying to find his sense of humour. When we meet Thorin he does not really have a lot to laugh about but so addressing that part of his character was very difficult.

Judith  Worrall asks – Richard, playing the part of Thorin Oakenshield has obviously been a wonderful experience for you, no doubt there were good days and other days. Can you tell us a little about this experience, in particular what was your best experience and what was the hardest thing you had to do whilst filming? The first thing that jumps out as the best experience was the day we were taken to the top of a mountain and dumped in the wilderness whilst Andy Serkis flew around us taking aerial shots from a helicopter. That was one of the best days. Most challenging… I think the day we shot the escape from the Goblin tunnels because it was so incredibly hot. We were on the sound stage in the middle of summer, in hot and heavy costumes, there were live flames everywhere and an awful lot of heavy fight work to do so that was a difficult day.

Nat Hart asked:  Mr Armitage,   Of all your acting roles to date, which one have you found the most challenging as an actor? Also which the most rewarding, the most enjoyable? And lastly, of what performance are you proudest? Thank you! Thank you Nat. Um, it sounds like an easy answer but playing Thorin has been the most challenging, if anything just because of the logistics of the shoot, working on the green screen, the weight of the costumes. Then there was the extent of the fight sequences and the fact that it was also different voice and a different face. And it was also the most rewarding. Partly because overcoming all those challenges but also when I sat in the movie house and saw what Peter Jackson had done with the movie, viewing Thorin and not recognizing myself in the role, that was very satisfying.


Catherine Witteveen asked – Which scene was the most difficult to rehearse and then shoot in Unexpected Journey? Why? Well I mentioned the escape from the Goblin caves already but also one of the most difficult scenes was in the prologue when Thorin is fighting at the battle of Azanulbizar, try spelling that one. We had a stunt double and a scale double fighting in the same fight, I had to fight seven orcs at the same time and I hit myself in the face with the shield and put my tooth through my lip but there was not time to stop so we had to keep going and so I did it with a bloody, bleeding lip and that was pretty difficult. Ouch Ouch.

Jenny Lambert wrote in to ask – What ongoing strategies in terms of physical training do you have in place to ensure you protect yourself from injury given the physicality of the role of Thorin? One thing I would do a lot was strap up my ankles with tape, which I think a lot of hikers or runners do. When you are running over uneven ground you can turn an ankle and we were doing that in boots that were very heavy so I did that a lot. We were also in the gym training from January right the way through the shoot and we did a lot of strengthening exercises on our back, lets and arms…


That was for carrying the suit? The was for carrying the costume and also all the fight work. Orcrist is a very heavy sword and I had to have my back and arms working properly to wield it.

Marisa Tintaputra asked – have you ever received any impressive gifts from fans? Um. Its actually not related to The Hobbit but I did receive a pair of boxer shorts with my character’s face on the butt once… which was kind of impressive…, but the most impressive gift I received was not from a fan but from Peter Jackson that was Orcrist… The sword? Really? Yeah.  It’s in a bank vault. Really? No. But it should be. Is it the real thing? I mean metal rather than a plastic replica Yes. It is the full sword. It is dwarf scaled as well so it is massive.  Huge. Wow. That is impressive.

Oya Yseilada asks: How have you been preparing for part 2 & 3, as your characters role evolves with the story? I made quite a lot of notes before we started so in preparation for two and three I have gone back to the biography that I wrote for the character. We have lots of fight work still to cover as well so I have also stayed with the training regime. Hopefully I will be able to start on day one with pickups with some decent fight moves.

Shelly O’donnell asks What is it that attracts him to film/tv/etc. projects? What sort of projects would he like to be involved with in the future? I like piecing together a character slowly and making adjustments as you go along so projects and crews that allow me a chance to do that are obviously exciting. Great directors make a huge difference, Peter Jackson had such a vision… For future projects… who knows, perhaps a change from such a high tech movie, perhaps something a bit more intimate… something from literature maybe?

Sarah Lees asked which band or artist do you most enjoying listening to? Right now I am really enjoying Gotye. I got to present him with the Aria which was great. I like Radiohead. On set my playlist was mainly Killers and Kings of Leon.

Well Richard, we have loads more questions for you but sadly we are out of time. Thank you for taking the time and we hope you enjoy the rest of your stay. Thank you.


A Sunday SmoRgAsbord in More Ways Than One



The last couple of days–wet, chilly and quite FMS-unfriendly–have not strictly been the most productive for me. However, I did get some rest including actual restorative sleep (a rarity for me) involving several really nice dreams. I got up this morning in a happy mood, moving fairly well. Benny and I enjoyed a good cuddle on the sole day each week he doesn’t have to get up and head to the salt mines.  Amongst his many fine qualities, he’s an extremely cuddly kind of dude. 😉

I’ve been visiting Facebook and snaffling some images and words of wisdom and inspiration I enjoyed, as well as playing with some images of Mr. A. Thought I would share them with you all as I hope you are having a restful, fun, inspiring kind of Sunday (or good Monday, as the case may be).





And some in all ways: looks, personality, character. *sigh*


courtesy of Joane Severin at Facebook




Courtesy of Ms. Gigglepants via Twitter and Tumblr


Courtesy of My Life-My Rules-My Attitude at Facebook



A Fan’s First-Hand Experience at RA’s Sydney Q&A: A Must-Read!


Boys and girls, do I have a treat for you. For those of us who didn’t get to attend the Q&A with Richard Armitage, this is the next best thing to being there for now, thanks to groovergreen.  I have also included some photos taken during last night’s session courtesy of my peeps at Twitter.

Groovergreen, I owe you a big one, mate (oh, and why don’t you have you own blog, little missy??)  Enjoy!!

Greetings, everyone, from the middle of the Sydney night, the sleepless aftermath of the Richard Armitage love-in at the Orpheum Picture Palace! Thanks to the Popcorn Taxi’s The Hobbit Q and A, 700 of us had our first chance to quiz Mr Armitage directly — unmediated by media — to gaze admiringly on his magnificence and to ponder: How can the gods devolve so much power of enchantment on just one human being?

Reckon the Popcorn Taxi boss could have used a bit of that, for he warned us against letting our love flow too freely. “I suggest you deal with the wetness on your seats,” said he with such delightful delicacy and tact. Bewdy, mate, thanks, will do.

Despite having been interviewed to within an inch of his life this week, RA was tireless and gracious, and for 45 minutes we sat rapt in his bass-baritone eloquence as he expounded on life in Middle Earth. He scrubbed up all right, too, in sleek white shirt with skinny neo-Modernist tie, jacket of a peculiar green-gold hue and exquisitely tight (tight, I said!) black jeans. Ooh!


No digital recording was allowed, so I cracked a notebook – an old-fashioned paper notebook — and transcribed almost all the Q and A in shorthand. (Well, as best as I could in the dark and while bedazzled by RA.) So though this may be superseded by an official transcript in days to come, I reckon that between Lady 0akenshield’s pictures from the front row and my own humble offering we have this one covered for at least the next 24 hours in the fandom. You will see where I have paraphrased some things for better flow and sense, but mostly I have preserved RA’s words.

A big thank you to Angie the Fedora Lady for hosting this transcript on her wonderful blog, The Armitage Effect!


First question of the evening: What has RA learned from playing Thorin that is useful to him in real life?

RA (with the winsome meekness that we adore but don’t quite understand): “I am not really a bold leader as a person, and I found in him a nobility that is about leading by example, not necessarily dictation. That is the best thing I have found for myself.”

To create Thorin’s distinctive look required prosthetics and heavy make-up (about $1.6 million worth, according to a report in a Sydney newspaper this week). Was RA shocked by how he looked in Thorin’s body?

When I met Peter (Jackson), no, before I met Peter, I was given a character break-down and one thing it said was ‘you will be required to wear some prosthetics’. I knew there would be something, but it was extensive and the initial manifestation of Thorin was more extreme.’’ RA worked with make-up artist Tami Lane to tone it down, including Thorin’s wild eye-flashing.

I didn’t want to be inhibited in any way. The key to seeing into Thorin’s heart is through his eyes. When the makeup came off, my face was much more animated than I am as a person, but I think that is because all the facial muscles had been exercised a lot more.’


How differently might today’s audiences and readers interpret The Hobbit compared with the original readers in the 1930s?

RA: “I read Tolkien’s biography and he talked a lot about his experiences in World War I. That he lost his fellowship was what he was writing about, and the rise of evil… but we are living in a time when we send other people’s children off to fight battles. The idea of dwarves exiled from their homeland pervades across times, I think.’’

Amid chortling about his “266 days of hard work emoting through Thorin’s hot and heavy costume and make-up’’, RA was asked whether he had fun on the Hobbit set.

I have got to say that most of the fun was off the set,’’ he said, explaining that Thorin required all his concentration. “He isn’t a big bag of laughs, I’ve got to be honest,’’ he said. “But for me, I have fun when I’m stretching myself fully.”

The cross-cultural exchange among the dwarves actors kept the amusement factor high too, he said. ‘’Without the British and the Kiwis, the coming together of those two cultures, it wouldn’t have been as much fun. I’m looking forward to seeing them again. We have 10 more weeks of shooting. We haven’t done a single frame of the Battle of the Five Armies. Actually I think it might be the Battle of the Six Armies. I started training again at the end of January so I could swing that heavy sword around you are talking about. I’ve had practice; I was very close to taking it to the gym with me. I didn’t bring it with me now. I would never have got it through security.”


Popcorn Taxi host: “I’m determined to find out some of the stories that haven’t been told and retold about fun on set — such as director being put in embarrassing situations?”

Our director put himself in very embarrassing situations,’’ RA replied, recounting a complicated shoot in which Thorin had to run down a tree trunk. “Peter said ‘this is how you do it’. He came down that tree trunk so fast his pants fell down around his ankles and the film crew kept on filming it. So somewhere there is a film with Peter Jackson with his pants around his ankles. For Peter’s 50th birthday we decided to make a naked dwarves calendar. As you know, dwarves when they take their clothes off have a lot of padding , and the calendar featured dwarves of the movie in various compromising positions. There is only one copy. Graham wanted to make more but I said absolutely not, and there is only one copy.”

Host: “Did you have a strategically placed piece of oak?”

RA: “What happened in the calendar stays in the calendar!”

Host: “In The Hobbit you sing a song, Misty Mountain. You were a song and dance man before you went into the more serious side of drama. What was it like returning to singing in a production?”

RA: “I did a production of The Hobbit when I was 13, and it was a musical, really. I know that Tolkien had written lots of songs through the literature. I was really excited there were going to be these songs in it. (Hobbit co-writer) Fran Walsh wrote the tune to this song, and I was honoured to be asked to take it on. (For research) I listened to a lot of Russian church music. I listened to a Welsh male voice choir. We took the pitch down and down and down … I wanted to keep recording it until the end of time because I was not ever happy with it.’’

The audience was then invited to ask questions, and one was about The Hobbit’s horses.

I love my horse, her name is Shaman and she and I became very close,” RA said. “She had her long hair thing going and so did I. We would ride the horses out on location at the weekends… In the Tolkien literature it describes dwarves as not liking horses because they don’t ride very well, which I was slightly annoyed about because I was in love with my horse.’’

How much control was RA given over the way Thorin looked?

RA: “I remember asking for more grey at the sides (of his hair) because I felt it would give him more age. I originally conceived Thorin as being like a bison and I wanted better body bulk. That included the pelt he wears. When I didn’t have the pelt on I felt I was missing a part of him.”

A fan helplessly entranced by RA’s voice (like us all, really), complained the Misty Mountains song was too short and might there be an extended version in the offing? “I know Neil Finn did it but it isn’t as good,’’ she said with complete lack of finesse.

RA: “It is quite long. If that song had been any longer I think people would have been quite impatient. There was a moment when I nearly got to sing the song at the end. Nearly. But Neil Finn did a version of the final song which extended and developed it, which I absolutely love. I am hoping there will be more singing in movies two and three.”


The next inquisitor was a woman who asked RA how he had met Geraldine, and when he was going home. Er, no dear, this is not a Vicar of Dibley time warp.

Q: “How did you imagine Thorin as a child compared with the role under Peter’s vision?”

RA: “I do remember very clearly reading the book as a 12-year-old, and then as a slightly older 12-year-old man. I had seen him as a bit older. But the important thing was that he was the potential king who can return to his people and show his prowess on the battlefield. He was older than I am, but he still had the prowess to swing that sword around.”

RA was asked about working with Sir Christopher Lee, who plays Saruman and who is apparently noted for unusual behaviour.

RA: “I hate to admit it but I never worked with Christopher Lee. I don’t like to give away too many secrets of filming but all of Christopher’s stuff was shot in the UK because he was too old to travel, so I never got to meet him.”

Q: “If you hadn’t been cast as Thorin, who would you like to have been cast as?”

RA: “You tell me!” He likes the portrayal of Beorn: “He really lives up to the images of him I had as a kid.”

Q: ”How did it feel to play Thorin, then see him on screen?’’

RA: “It was really surprising. I actually thought I hadn’t done very much in the first movie and that most of my work was in movies two and three.” He explained that Peter Jackson had chosen to give Thorin more and extended scenes. “I hadn’t looked at what he had chosen. I was pretty pleased. He made Thorin look awesome. It was his doing, not mine.”


Jackson, he said, tended to make decisions on the run: “It was always very difficult to get Peter to sit down … he likes to have these conversations when the camera is rolling.”

Q: what are the differences between doing a movie such as The Hobbit and television?

RA: “The main thing is time. When you have a budget like The Hobbit had it buys you so much time; in particular, time to experiment. And working on a green screen. I had never done that before. I was nervous of it. But it does fire up your imagination.”

Q: ‘What personal life experiences helped you shape Thorin?”

RA: “I suppose the thing I really love about Thorin is that he does have a fear of what he is going to do. He is on a path to something that is thrilling. He will get to be a king and he will accumulate a huge amount of wealth. But in that mountain is the most terrifying thing he has ever experienced in his life … I assimilate that to a holocaust of some kind, the bomb dropping on Hiroshima and the devastation it caused … He is walking towards something that he wants to do but it is repelling him. That dichotomy is the most appealing thing.’’

RA is noted for preferring to do his own stunts on film. Asked about his favourite stunt in The Hobbit, he nominated the scene in which the mountain splits open, Bilbo falls off the side and Thorin has to save him.

‘’It was one I didn’t know I was going to be able to do,’’ he said. “Just getting on the horse and doing something your stunt double has shot is really thrilling. Not that it gives you a sense of heroism, but it makes you feel like you are living the character.”

Speaking of that, how about the one RA is named after? Does he still plan to play Richard III on film?

RA: “Many, many plans but they are all in my mind at the moment. There is a possibility but it is a matter of when and how. Maybe I’ll be too old to do it.’’ (Collective groan of disbelief from the Armitage Army in the front rows.)

Q: “You have played a lot of dark, brooding, grumpy characters. What would you say about casting to type? Are you looking forward to choosing different sorts of roles in future?”

RA: “I always get very nervous when I read something that is close to myself. I predict I won’t get it, because I am better at playing someone very far away from myself. I fantasise about playing the romantic lead character, but I don’t think my face suits that.’’ (More groans.)


Host: “You’re right. I think you look inherently evil.”

RA also talked about The Hobbit’s spectacular sequence known as Scene 88: ‘‘It felt like we were running through the whole of the North and South islands. But it was so great to be out in those locations, to see them, because I might never see them again. I did have to tape up my ankles, though, because the ground was so incredibly uneven.”

Q: “Will Smaug (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) and Thorin be in the room together (in Hobbit 2 and 3)? I wonder whether that has happened or whether you have talked about it.”

RA: “That is a pretty awesome thought. I went into the motion capture studio because I wanted to see how Ben worked – I’m a huge fan of his — so we did cross paths. I love the fact that they cast him because it means the dragon will have an incredible intellect and an incredible voice. I also think they may be able to use certain aspects of his bone structure in the face of the dragon, but nobody knows yet. But I don’t know if Thorin and Smaug ever come face to face. That is something I will find out when we do the reshooting. I hope so.”

Alas, time dances too merrily away in the Dionysian presence of Mr Armitage. And so to the final question: If there were one question he could ask of Thorin Oakenshield, what would it be?

The thing I want to know, that I’ve tried to fill in in my little biography, is: Who was the love of his life? I felt he had made a sacrifice in his life, that he gave up something for his people, for his quest, and I imagine there would have been a princess he would have been betrothed to as King Under The Mountain. So that is probably what I would ask Thorin.”

Then, to a standing ovation and with a bashful smile, RA was gone … out the wrong exit, whereupon an usher gently led him across the cinema and we shamelessly turned our mobile phone cameras on those long, sleek legs, that nose, that FACE in those precious last seconds of his being there.

Safe travels, Mr Armitage, and thank you for an evening that was well worth my journey of 1000km!


Wasn’t this a wonderful report, folks? As I said, next best thing to being there . . . give groovergreen some love and let us know what you think of the Qs and As!

Dancing Armitage: ‘All Arms & Legs,’ Yet Poetry in Motion


Crystal Chandlyre put together this special video highlighting Richard dancing in rehearsals for “Cats” back in 1994-95.  You get to see the same dance sequence from two different vantage points and both in and out of costume with Crystal giving some cues as to when and where to look for RA.

Of course, as she says, once you’ve spotted him, you somehow don’t miss him again (even with the less-than-perfect quality of old video footage).

I love watching him dance. That tall, lean, muscular frame, the former gangly teen transformed into a graceful swan–a big man who never somehow takes up too much space. I know he grew dissatisfied with his career as a dancer and choreographer in musical theatre for various reasons, but as I have said before, it wasn’t from any lack of talent, surely.

And musical theatre’s loss was definitely our gain as admirers of a versatile, expressive, nuanced actor.

His dance training and experience shine through in so many of his acting performances, from Lucas’s cat-like stealth to Porter’s balletic grace with a weapon to Thorin’s amazing spins in combat–Armitage the dancer still captures our attention and commands our admiration and respect.

What a bundle of talent that man is. Bravo!!  And thank you, Crystal, for putting this together.

TAE Word for the Day: My man ain’t no fanfaron!


Nothing wrong with being a fan or aficionado. But you really don’t want to be a fanfaron. Or be a fan of a fanfaron.

FANFARON: a boaster or a braggart. From the French fanfaron, from the Spanish fanfarron, perhaps from Arabic farfar (talkative), of expressive origin. The words fanfaronade and fanfare have the same origin. Earliest use in English language traced back to 1622.

Fortunately, Richard is many things, but one thing he isn’t is a fanfaron.   Put it down to typical English self-effacement, to a very proper upbringing by John and Margaret, to something innate–Rich is not a lad to go around tooting his own horn. Instead, there is a sort of quiet confidence in his stillness. He’s the thoughtful, grown-up fellow who doesn’t feel the need to try to impress us.

And there’s that rather adorable–if occasionally maddening–tendency to downplay his talents and abilities.   I wouldn’t take a hundred boastful egocentric Kanye West types for one man who’s the real thing. Richard Armitage: my man ain’t no fanfaron! And I love him all the more for it.