protean: (adj) (1) Assuming many forms; variable. (2) Able to handle many different things, as roles in a play. Versatile.
After Proteus, a sea god in Greek mythology, who could assume different forms. He got his name from the Greek protos (first) as he was one of the earliest sea gods. Earliest use: 1594.
The first thing I ever saw Richard Armitage in was Robin Hood. I was taken with the nuances, the depth, the vulnerabilities he gave to what could have otherwise been a bog-standard one-dimensional henchman (not to mention the Guyliner and leather). That, of course, led me to investigate some of his earlier material. In a fairly brief space of time, I saw North & South, Sparkhouse, and The Vicar of Dibley‘s Wholly Holy Happy Ending.
I can only say I was truly blown away. This actor was clearly no one-trick pony. It was hard for me to believe the same human being who had given us the smouldering, swaggering, staggeringly sexy Sir Guy had also brought to life a painfully shy Yorkshire farmer, that gentle giant John Standring.
And the sunny, sweet, cheeky accountant Harry. And created the Victorian mill owner Thornton, the good son who had borne the responsibility of restoring and maintaining his family’s good name and fortune. Wow.
Harry discusses “one kiss. With Tongues.” with Geraldine as part of paying up on her debt.
The man is a veritable acting chameleon, assuming many forms in a convincing manner, subtly altering voice, facial expressions, body language and mannerisms in order to create a new and different character.
And then, of course, there’s all those talents and skills. Swordfighting and horseback riding; singing and dancing; writing, painting, playing musical instruments . . . well, you get the idea. As I said, not a one-trick pony at all.
I would say Richard Armitage is a positively protean actor, wouldn’t you? And aren’t you glad you discovered him, too?