It was seven years ago this summer when it all began. One sticky south Alabama Saturday night I flipped on the TV and tuned into BBC America to catch their latest version of the Robin Hood legend.
I have to be perfectly honest. I found the rebooted “legend” less than–legendary. Hoodie with his boyish bangs, constipated expressions and cocky strut did not exactly make me forget Errol Flynn.
I did think his cohorts had their charms, Marian was pretty (and pretty feisty), and the sheriff, the sort of amusing panto-ish villain one loved to hate. But the one who ultimately kept my attention and piqued my interest was the tall, scowling, smirking man in black.
He was the one always hovering near the sheriff, arms folded across his broad chest, trying to be impassive. The master of arms’ body language and facial expressions, however, told so much about the “evil henchman.” Oh, he was a handsome devil, no doubt about it, and he knew it. “A right smarmy bastard,” I said to myself. In spite of some reservations about the show, I kept watching . . . the chief attraction being the bad guy, Guy.
I abhorred some of Sir Guy’s choices and actions; still, the more I watched, the more complex this potentially one-note cardboard cutout of a character became. I’m not bein’ funny — the baddie turned out to have a heart and soul, folks. Robin Hood 2006 had its cheese-tastic appeal, but the raison d’etre of it all for me was Gisborne. By the end of the first season, when Marian slugged him and left him at the altar, I was fully Team Leather all the way.
I cried buckets when the character died at the end of the third and final season. Even though I knew in advance it was going to happen and tried to prepare myself for The Moment, I was still so distraught when it came. I shed more tears over this fictional character than I have some flesh-and-blood relations. He was–and is–that real to me. And I still simply cannot bear to re-watch THAT Moment.
And so there was nothing to do but to declare him “loved into being” a la The Velveteen Rabbit, back with us to enjoy more adventures, and serve as the catalyst for my popular “Sloth Fiction” stories. Sir Guy is SO Not Dead.
We each have our own story about the character that lured us into Armitage Mania. Guy was my particular “gateway drug” into the Armitage fandom. But I didn’t stop there. I went on to investigate more online about this very attractive actor with the rich, honeyed baritone and beautiful way of moving, a performer who could also speak volumes without saying a word, giving a mere flicker of those long, darkened lashes, a sidelong glance, or a twist of his mouth. I watched fanvids and visited a few Armitage sites.
When I had the cash, I ordered the DVDs of RA’s I could find stateside at that time: North and South, Vicar of Dibley and a used copy of Sparkhouse.
After viewing those three productions in quick succession, call me officially blown away. The man was clearly no one- trick pony in the world of acting. How could the man who inhabited cripplingly shy, awkward sheep farmer John Standring also bring to life sunny, cheeky accountant Harry, sober Victorian mill owner Thornton and the smoulderingly seductive presence that was Gisborne? And yet, he did, looking and moving and sounding differently in each and every role. Richard made me believe and care every single time.
And he’s done it again and again–as Lucas, as Porter, Ricky, Mulligan, Kruger, Thorin . . . and now he’s wowing London theatre audiences as gruff, work-hardened farmer John Proctor in Miller’s The Crucible. And will no doubt perform admirably as Gary the widowed dad and teacher in Into the Storm and in whatever future roles he undertakes. And then of course I’ve also discovered how kind, thoughtful, funny, bright, humble and simply extremely likeable the real man appears to be.
He’s not perfect, but he is a pretty special human being. I really do believe in the power of The Armitage.
In long-term relationships, in marriages, there is a phenomenon referred to as the “Seven-Year Itch” in which the partners begin to feel an urge to–stray, to move on to pastures with, say, Bahia grass versus Fescue (I am a farmer’s daughter, remember).
And yet, not only do I not feel an urge to move on to a different actor on which to have a big ol’ crush, I also don’t plan to ever abandon my first RA love.
Sir Guy of Gisborne, you will always be my very favorite. I wrote my first novel-length fanfic about you. I’ve made more Guy photo edits, fan art and fan vids than I have of any other ChaRActer. Of course, there is more of you, in 37 episodes, although never enough even then.
You continue to inspire me, and to endear yourself to me with that special blend of thrilling alpha male dominance (I will forgive you things I would never forgive anyone else) with an awkward sweetness, aching vulnerability and at times, heartbreaking gullibility.
And frankly, nobody, but nobody, rocks the Guyliner, stubble, leather and long locks the way YOU do. You’ll always be THE one.
I’m not bein’ funny . . . no seven year itch for me!