Category Archives: physical beauty

Will the real Richard Armitage please stand up? Or–maybe not.

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“Who’s Richie A, Who’s the real guy, will the real Richie A please stand up, please stand up”

(with apologies to Eminem aka Slim Shady, who is, in fact, actually a guy named Marshall Mathers)

Fedoralady plays the devil’s advocate a bit here . . .  tossing out some food for thought.  Glean from it what you will.

 

Who exactly is Richard Armitage? That seems to be a question a fair amount of fans are asking these days.

What concerning RA can we agree upon?

I think we can all agree he’s enormously talented. Charismatic. A hard-working professional (maybe even a workaholic). He shows an appreciation for his fans and has a generous heart, supports worthwhile charities and encourages others to do the same. He is not at all hard on the eyes. In fact, he seems to get more attractive with each passing year. There is a lot to like and appreciate here.

The RA that most who have been fans for a longer period have come to expect is this thoughtful, diffident, humble, bookish, boyish, good-humored and gentle sort of gentleman—a kind of Harry Kennedy come to life in some respects. Richard himself once said HK was the character he had played who was most like him in real life, which led to quite a few “squees” in the fandom.

 

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We saw glimpses of this “Admirable RA” in television and radio interviews to promote his shows and films, in the behind-the-scenes features for DVDs and in some print interviews. There was never a great deal offered up about his private life, even when interviewers tried to pry or provoke it out of him. He preferred to focus on his work, a subject about which he was clearly passionate.

Some fans who first discovered him as Thornton in “North and South” found Richard Armitage the perfect romantic hero and longed to see him in more high-quality period drama. Those who adored him as Harry Kennedy pined to see him perform in a wittily scripted rom-com. Others found “Action Hero with a Heart” Armitage and “Beautiful Baddie (Who Really Isn’t)” irresistible.

 

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For certain fans, RA pretty much ascended onto a pedestal. If he wasn’t a saint, surely he was an angel, almost too good to be true.
After all, look at all his virtuous qualities . . . he was different from all that riff-raff out there in celebrity land, and we could pat ourselves on the back and smugly smile and say, “We fangurl only the best and the most pure of heart.”

 

And other fans said (in private, if not on forums), “Virtuous qualities, shmirtuous qualities. He can effin’ read the phone book for all I care (preferably in really tight jeans and a shirt with a few buttons undone) as long as I can hear that smooth chocolate baritone and gaze into those hellagood azure eyes and imagine all the bad, bad things I could do to him!” (I should point out these feelings can be found in fans who really, really admire his personality and acting talent, too.)

 

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As for Richard, he has always tended to dismiss talk about his sexual allure, expressing disbelief that he could ever be considered a hottie, proclaiming he’s always found himself a bit odd-looking.

RA has seemed like the perfect celebrity crush for the discerning fan girl: bright and gifted, yet humble and modest. Beautiful and sexy, yet seemingly unaware of his physical charms (although quite a few of us found that hard to swallow). Here was an intensely private man who clearly intended to remain so, one who wanted the focus to be on his body of work as a serious actor–and not his body, as it were.

And then he joined Twitter. Dived in headfirst, one might say.
And we started getting selfies. Lots of selfies. Some were quite funny and cute and a little weird, but in a good sort of way. And one or two were— “Huh? Zat you, Richard?”
They seemed to be of a handsome young man but they didn’t exactly look like Richard Armitage—maybe a younger look-alike relative?

Clearly, our Richie was doctoring his images. Hey, no big deal, right? Don’t all celebrities (and quite of few of us nobodies) use filters and other touch-up tools on our photos before we post them to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and the like? And he’s working at lot in Hollywood now, where youth is the religion; he’s almost 44 and there are always younger actors up for the same roles.

 

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B4cEX4uCIAE03cWAnd maybe, just maybe, Mr. A is a bit more vain and conscious of his good looks than we were led to think.

Then there’s this whole thing of tweeting—and deleting. And tweeting and deleting some more. “Make up your mind, Mr. Armitage, a legion of fans is apparently hanging on your every word and trying to dissect what went wrong that caused you to need to remove a particular image/words!” Fans cry out.

So, tell me, Richard,  are you just teasing us, or are you in fact still a bit inept when it comes to this whole social media morass? Inquiring minds want to know. Some fans are getting downright frustrated!

And there are some of the roles Richard is choosing—very action-oriented, one even described as “hyper-violent” and of course, that blood-soaked turn as a serial killer later this season on “Hannibal.”
Didn’t he once state horror was a genre he didn’t think was a good fit for him?

“What caused you to change your mind?” ask some fans, disappointed over your decision.

“Aren’t people allowed to change their minds?” Other fans respond. “This isn’t your run-of-the-mill splatter fest, anyway. There’s great scripting and character development. The critics love it!”

There’s a lot of disquiet and a certain degree of disappointment expressed in the fandom of late and it has led me to query: While we’ve never been completely harmonious, were fans in general happier when RA was actually less accessible?
Was ignorance bliss for some of us when that alluring veil of mystery still swirled around him? Is a portion of it still there or has social media permanently dispelled it?

 

8992342a74186be2f224f6dbd9d00254I wonder, would it be more acceptable for some fans if he were like a movie star in the old studio system, in which the Powers That Be carefully groomed and molded their stars’ images . . . and kept anything negative out of the press.

Has Richard Armitage as an individual actually changed in any fundamental way, or are we simply seeing him break out of his shyness and shake off some of that British reserve,with the self-professed late bloomer now “busting out all over” with a nearly nude photo posted on Twitter? (Of course, it’s not like he hasn’t gotten naked before for the camera . . . on several occasions, in fact. “Between the Sheets,” “Spooks” and “Strike Back.”)

Do we know/see a little too much now, and are some of us afraid of what we might discover next about “our Richard” that could potentially shatter our illusions about him?

And do we as individual fans and as a collective truly want the real Richard Armitage—whomever and whatever he might prove to be—to stand up? Or can we ever really “know” a man who is such an expert at immersing himself into his characters?  Actors–well, they ACT.

Would we prefer to only fangurl a Richard made to our personal specifications . . . and is there any harm if we do?  Should we hold tight to our fantasies even if reality turns out to bite?

I wonder.

Richard Armitage: So Much to AppReCiAte. Remember, it’s ALL good.

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Richard Armitage is all that and a bag of chips. An extra-large bag of Golden Flakes, made right here in Alabama and one of  favorite guilty pleasures to this day.

 

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I believe we all can agree that Richard is enormously talented and versatile in his gifts. The man can act phenomenally well, using every facet of his physical being–that deep, earthy voice, amazingly mobile face, those big, elegant hands and so much more–to bring his characters to vivid (and at time, heart-wrenching) life. We can easily believe he is the individual he is portraying as we take a journey alongside him. We watch, we listen, hang on the edge of our seats as we hold our collective breath; we cheer and we shed tears. We mourn. We do not forget. Those characters, this man, sticks with us.

 

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Richard as Thorin back inside Erebor for the first time in years. Courtesy of The Arkenstone-ck.tumblr.com

Along with those acting chops we have a man who can sing, play instruments, ride horseback and perform fight scenes with the grace and agility of the professional dancer he once was.  All that he has experienced in his life and learned and trained for in each of his roles has helped bring him to where he is today–an increasingly acclaimed actor of both stage and screen with several new projects on the horizon. Workaholic that he appears to be, I don’t think we have to worry about Richard “resting” (as unemployed actors refer to being in between roles) for very long.

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He’s also a consummate professional described in glowing terms by co-stars, crew members, scriptwriters and directors. Richard is hard working and humble, affable and kind, generous and good hearted with an infectious laugh that reaches right up into  those twinkling blue eyes. What’s not to love?

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Now, not only is he an amazing talent, he also happens to be really, really attractive.  Easy on the eyes with that arrestingly handsome face and the sort of tall, broad-shouldered masculine physique that invites daydreams and fantasies.  “Oh child of Venus, you’re just made for love . . .” He was always a cutie, but I swear he’s grown into more masculine gorgeousness with each passing year.

And it’s perfectly OK to celebrate that physical beauty along with his intelligence, talent, work ethic, charisma and charitable instincts. Because these qualities, inner and outer, are all part and parcel of what makes Richard Armitage Richard Armitage. And keeps us coming back for more . . . and more.

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Hubba-hubba.

So don’t be hatin’ on bloggers who take time out from their serious discussions of his work to light-heartedly enjoy the siren call of Mr. Armitage’s outward qualities, whether it be nipples, biceps, bum or other physical attributes. Because it’s ALL good. Just like a big ol’ bag of Golden Flakes . . .

Sir Guy is gonna melt ole Leon–’cause he’s HAWT. (NEW edits! old vids!)

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Well, it’s been quite a week in Lower Alabama. A cold, icy, snowy, slick, downright dangerous week. Yes, much of our state was more or less shut down by Winter Storm Leon, and no, it’s not because we are a bunch of pantywaists who don’t know how to handle a couple of inches of snow.  It’s the ice, ice, baby, underneath that snow.

Try navigating around in sub-zero temps on hilly terrain coated with a solid inch or more of the frozen stuff, with few resources and limited manpower in place to remove said ice, and see how you like it.  Thank goodness it’s continuing to warm up and most of what’s still out there should be gone later today. We have temps of near 70 degrees forecast for the weekend. Yes, in Alabama you CAN wear snow boots and flip-flops in the same week. ‘Cause that’s how we roll . . .

So here comes the magnificent Hot Velvet Henchman, the Sultan of Snake-Hipped Swagger, the Leather-Clad Man with the World’s Sexiest Smoulder, to really get that warm-up underway.   ‘Cause he’s hawt like a sauna!!

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Fedoralady’s Monday Meanderings: Thorin et al

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I am sharing a variety of things I found on FB and some of my own stuff today. I hope you enjoy! I just love this piece of artwork. It could be Richard on set or a younger, more carefree Thorin. Great job, Evank7!

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If you aren’t familiar with Grumpy Cat, he’s (she’s?) something of an internet phenom. That face! But even GC is being won over by the delicious Thorin–well, sort of.

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I find Smaug Cat both beautiful and fearsome!!

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Someone found these two images on fanpop. I then enlarged them and did a bit of tweaking. Me like–hope you do, too.

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Nothing like  Thorin when he’s truly p—ed off and not gonna take it anymore. Forbidding and still beautiful. BeFunky_untitled-4-copy.jpg

Now, must do some video critiquing for spouse and then on to playing in photo editing with more scanned images. Such fun!

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

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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 . . .

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

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The Power of a Character: Thorin conquers the world

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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…..my 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.

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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
mad.

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.

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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.

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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
mistakes?
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.

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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
time….

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:http://thorinoakenshield.net/2013/05/13/whats-so-special-about-these-dwarves/

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!

A Sunday SmoRgAsbord in More Ways Than One

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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).

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

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courtesy of Joane Severin at Facebook

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Courtesy of Ms. Gigglepants via Twitter and Tumblr

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

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RA’s bad boys always catching my eye . . . how ’bout yours?

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I had a very lazy day today. It rained pretty much all day long . . .  and I could never get motivated to do a great deal except rest the sore, aching knee, play with the cats and snooze a bit. Dreamed about banquets with hot dogs and ham and vast amounts of candles on the tables, and oversleeping and missing a 7 a.m. arrival time at an event, which put me in a panic. Happily it was just a dream.

Meanwhile, in RL, it looks as if we will be shooting a dance recital next weekend in two parts, a ballet of “Cinderella” and then a tap/jazz portion. It’s not a huge school so the event won’t drag out for hours and hours as these things can (having been to my niece’s recitals at her large Birmingham school).  And the letters were posted today to the high school seniors’ parents re the graduation package we will be offering,  Yes, May is looking pretty busy. And, one hopes, lucrative. 😉 Have a wonderful weekend!

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courtesy of RA Frenzy

courtesy of RA Frenzy

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

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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!

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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!

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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.’

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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.”

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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.”

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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.”

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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.)

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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!

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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!

New Pic of RA Showing Beardy Goodness. You’re Welcome.

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Richard Armitage with Alice Tynan in a photo she tweeted a short time ago.

Richard Armitage with Alice Tynan in a photo she tweeted a short time ago.

Oh, those poor AAAs who are attending the encore Hobbit screening and preceding Q&A session with Richard in NSW this week. This is what they will have to look at, the vision above and of course, the awesomeness of Thorin Oakenshield. Don’t you pity them? 😉 Yeah, riiiiiight . . .

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

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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.