Climacteric: (noun) 1. a critical period. 2. A year in which important changes in health, fortune, etc. are held by some theories to occur, such as one’s 65th year. 3. The period of maximum respiration in a fruit, in which it becomes fully ripened. (Also refers to a physiological period involving a decrease in reproductive capacity in men and women, culminating, in women, in menopause).
In 2004, the year he turned 33, Richard Armitage (unexpectedly, it would seem, from the BBC’s standpoint) became something of an “overnight sensation” in the UK after captivating a large contingent of females with his performance as the sober Victorian mill owner capable of a “foolish passion” in North & South. Of course, the man had been toiling for years as a struggling actor, doing DIY work for friends and taking front of house jobs to make ends meet while trying to find that the success that seemed to elude him–therefore “overnight sensation” in quotes.
Thornton became an iconic role for Richard Armitage, with many audience members choosing him as their ideal romantic hero. More television roles came. His first starring role after N&S, caring air emergency doctor Alex Track in the series The Golden Hour, was short-lived, but he ended up stealing the show as the beautiful, conflicted henchman Guy of Gisborne in Robin Hood and making us fall in love with an enigmatic spy named Lucas North in Spooks. There were other television roles, too, including the charismatic businessman with a dark side, John Mulligan in Moving On.
Then came the tough, yet tender and sexy-as-hell sergeant John Porter in Strike Back, not to mention the various audiobooks, advertisements, TV narrations and other jobs our workaholic fit into his schedule–and his first significant role in a blockbuster, the sinister Hydra spy Heinz Kruger in Captain America.
His fandom continued to grow and his talent seemed to go from strength to strength. Even when fans hated what was done to some of his character *holds up hand* they rarely faulted him on the quality of his performances and the versatility he continued to show in his roles.
Richard Armitage turned 41 this past August. And he seems to be in the midst of another truly climacteric year–one of gigantic proportions, I suspect. Because he’s about to appear in one of, if not the biggest of the big films this holiday season, helmed by no less than Sir Peter Jackson, beloved director of the spectacularly successful film trilogy LOTR. It’s a film that has its own built-in, wildly enthusiastic audience (as witnessed by Comic-Con). And Richard is undeniably one of its stars, right up there with Martin Freeman and Sir Ian McKellen.
The publicity machine for The Hobbit is well underway–and before the film arrives in theaters, we’ve got lots of Richard to look forward to, in tie-in books, in magazine and television interviews and more, a veritable RA/Thorin bonanza. And I am not complaining.
John Thornton was Richard’s first iconic role; surely Thorin Oakenshield, the brave, fierce, charismatic dwarf warrior will be his next, and one viewed by a much, much larger audience across the world. In this climacteric year, Richard Armitage is going to become very well-known, and I suspect many audience members will want to know what’s underneath all that yak hair and makeup. And what else this impressive actor has appeared in. Ah, the pleasures that await them!
And I, for one, am delighted at the thought of it, of the thought of fans of all ages, both sexes, all nationalities, etc. discovering more about our wonderful RA. I see his fan base growing and diversifying with his starring role in The Hobbit. If any actor deserves that sort of attention, it’s Richard Armitage. His talent, his intelligence, his dedication to his roles, his professionalism, the intensity he brings to every project–and the fact he is such a worthwhile human being on top of it all–makes my heart sing with gladness for this man.
I would say year 41 is truly turning out to be climacteric for our beautiful guy. Who will also be gracing screens as schoolteacher Gary Morris in Black Sky in 2013. What’s up next for RA? I don’t know, but I do know I will be along for the ride, come what may.
Vive Richard Armitage!!