Tag Archives: New Zealand

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.

‘It’s like we never left . . .’: McTavish Tweets & I Look Back


BeFunky_Inkify_1qyyote.jpgThe wait is now over, Rich. I bet you are a happy man right now.

I bet Tami is also glad to see the world’s most gorgeous dwarf back in her chair, too!

This showed up on Twitter tonight. It made me smile.

Action in Welly, More Ascroft & PRP’s been busy.


NZ media reports that The Hobbit gang is back at work today.


Best wishes to Richard, Sir Peter and all the cast and crew of the films. Stay safe, healthy and have fun! (Although I must admit I DON’T want to think about some of what you’ll be filming . . . *sniff*)

I am sure you’ve already seen these but won’t object to the opportunity to drool over the latest Ascrofts a bit more. 😉
Courtesy of the Richard Armitage Bulgaria page at FB; also now posted at RANet.  The drip feed continues . . . and no one’s complainin’!



Yesterday I manned a video cam for the second time for the Baccalaureate. Benny looked at footage from Honors Program and said it looked like I’d been doing it for years. So I guess I passed muster. 😉 Tonight I help capture the cute kindergartners on video. Wednesday morning I will be heading to my elementary alma mater, WO Parmer, to shoot their drama club’s performance of “The Wizard of Oz.” Already heard great buzz about this performance and the daughter of a former co-worker plays Dorothy.


Isn’t Vivian a cutie as the little girl who’s not in Kansas anymore?

Thursday night we have graduation. And Benny has a LOT of editing ahead of him.  Looking forward to the day when we have the business built up enough that he can quit a job he really has come to hate. When you have zero respect for the people you work for, it’s not a good thing. :-/

Hope you all are doing well. Going to try for a little nap.  See ya!!

“I had to pick myself up off the floor”: New interview with RA


“With 13 dwarfs in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, audiences are expected by the film trilogy’s end to easily distinguish and recognise each one. 

    But if there’s one dwarf that will be easy to spot from the moment he appears on screen it will be Thorin Oakenshield, played by British actor Richard Armitage.

One reason is that Thorin is the leader and, going on a glimpse I got of the band of dwarfs on set during filming earlier this year, a heroic risk-taker. I couldn’t help but think that Thorin could be to The Hobbit what Aragorn – played by Viggo Mortensen – was in The Lord of the Rings . . .

Portrait of a charismatic handsome prince–young Thorin.

An older, more world-weary Thorin.

Armitage first heard about The Hobbit after Sir Peter Jackson contacted the actor’s agent. Jackson asked if Armitage could read for the part of Thorin. “I thought, first of all, I’m six foot two [1.8 metres] and Thorin’s an old guy. Maybe they want me to read it for a general audition.

“But then when I read what they’d done with the audition speech I realised that they were looking for something quite different. They needed someone who could play a warrior, who could play a young Thorin and old Thorin and also to bring the idea of somebody who could return to his full potential to become a king. That’s when I sat down with Peter and we talked through the journey and the arc of the character – and then they offered it to me. I had to pick myself up off the floor.”

~~excerpts from Tom Cardy’s interview with Richard Armitage in The Dominion Post  (NZ) 11/23/2012

Here’s the link to the rest of this interview: http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/culture/7985809/Richard-Armitage-the-warrior-dwarf

Thanks to Heirs of Durin for the heads-up on the new interview. As always, Armitage brings thoughtful, intelligent and good-humored responses to the reporter’s questions.

He also discusses being on pins and needles during the months when he had the role, but the project had not yet been fully green-lighted. RA had to juggle projects, as he was determined that no one else would play the role.

And now, frankly, can any of us imagine anyone else playing the role? Just as Viggo became Aragorn, so Richard IS Thorin.

To all the naysayers, it does appear that Richard, a man in mid-life who is also strong, athletic, fit and accustomed to action-oriented roles as well as detailed characterizations; a skilled actor known for his chameleon-like qualities, is the perfect choice to play Thorin. Sir Peter obviously had faith in him.

Richard mentions the Powhiri ceremony kick-starting the production being an “amazing moment” after those stressful months of being on that knife edge, and I recall how overwhelmed he seemed to be in those opening moments: the flare of his nostrils, eyes shining with emotions, the smile on his face. And then the way he did us all proud with his little speech as representative of the movie’s cast and crew.

You also discover the importance of Thorin’s boots. I knew a broadcast journalist who taped pieces from the waist up. So you couldn’t see that she wasn’t wearing her customary high heels. “For some reason I can’t talk if I’ve got my heels on, so I do those reports barefooted,” she told me with a laugh.  Apparently Richard couldn’t play Thorin without his boots–even if the shot was from waist up! Just shows how importance costuming is to the characterization.

A GIF of RA doing a bit of boot bumping at Dwarf Camp (click on to play).  Richard said he had never traveled so far from home and felt more at home in New Zealand, it all seemed so familiar to him. Funny, that’s the way I felt about London!

Oh, things like this article only make me more ridiculously excited about the film. Just a few more weeks . . .

Thorin Thursday: Thoughts on The Dwarf & The Wizard


I was struck by this photo from the first moment I saw it in The Hobbit: The Official Movie Guide.  I have gone back several times to study it.

There’s the spectacular beauty of the New Zealand scenery, of course; with vistas such as this and the famed hospitality of its residents, no wonder many of the cast members were a bit sad to leave it behind.

But I found myself focused on the two men standing in the center of the photo, two tall bearded figures engaged in conversation, apparently on a break between shooting scenes on location.

It must be a cold day; Sir Ian is wearing a cozy-looking coat over his costume, which is far less bulky than the Dwarf actors’ gear is. Richard, with his dwarf padding and fur-trimmed coat, was probably glad for the cooler temperatures.

I wonder what they are talking about– is it something to do with the next scene, going over lines, or a topic as mundane as what the craft service provided for lunch?

Is the “old wizard” sharing words of wisdom with the younger man? Or are they simply discussing what a beautiful day it is to be alive . . .

I imagine their working relationship to be a mutually beneficial one, bouncing ideas off one another, each bringing out the best in the other. Richard is always at his optimum onscreen when he is acting opposite talented, inspired performers such as Sir Ian.

Two actors, more than a generation apart, both English gentlemen dedicated to their craft. The more I read of Sir Ian and his charitable endeavors, the more I am convinced he is as down-to-earth and generous of spirit as I believe his younger counterpart to be.

I am so glad Richard had the opportunity to work with someone of the calibre of Sir Ian McKellen. And I am so glad Sir Ian had the chance to work with someone of the calibre of Richard Armitage. They both deserve it.

This is just too cute.


This is a candid taken of Richard and his Thorin stunt/scale double, Mark Atkin, at Sir Ian McKellen‘s fundraiser in NZ. Mark kindly shared this great photo with Ali at www.richardarmitagenet.com.  So much to like here–Richard’s big, silly grin, that double thumbs up featuring those beautiful thumbs we all know and love, the sense of playfulness we see in the man. And the bared forearms and that handsome watch. It’s all good.

I can’t help but think it would be a pleasure to work alongside this someone like Richard.  A true professional dedicated to his craft, but not one to take himself too seriously.

Richard and Comic-Con: My Thoughts (Part Two)


Having studied Richard’s interviews during Hobbit-Con at Comic-Con yesterday, I can only conclude the man has come a long way, baby. The nervous and slightly giggly fellow of earlier interviews has matured beautifully, and not just on the outside.

I won’t say he was completely without nerves—even experienced actors can suffer from a bit of stage fright—but if RA was feeling a lot of anxiety and trepidation over his appearance at the event, he hid it admirably well.

Now, that’s a sight for sore eyes.

He appeared confident without being cocky—that quiet confidence that says, “I am a mature man instead of a spoiled boy in a man’s body.” He was good-humored (“I lost a foot”) without being mean-spirited.
Relaxed, and yet very in tune with what was going on around him.

As I said in one of the earlier comments, Comic-Con Richard was mellow—and yet, sharp.

Watching him interact with fans, interviewers and fellow panelists, I could not fail to notice his patience, unflappability and friendliness. The good manners John and Margaret instilled in their little boy all those years ago were fully in evidence. Mr. and Mrs. Armitage, you must be very, very proud of your son.
When he is interviewed, he engages fully with the interviewer, focusing his attentions on him/her and giving a thoughtful, articulate response to each question.

Are you talking with your hands again, Richie?

The man practically screams intelligence in these situations. It’s in his eyes, his words and his demeanor. And frankly, smart is very, very sexy.
I don’t know about you, but a muscle man with nothing between his ears bores me to tears every time.

I have to say I love how he talks with his hands in these interviews. I talk with my hands, too, although mine are nowhere near as elegant and attractive as his, and it makes me smile to see those handsome digits in action once again.

It was a pleasure to see him in all the interview situations, group and one-on-one. He is attentive to what the other panelists are saying, absorbing it all. I think he must have amazing powers of concentration. Perhaps, working on this film, having to perform in one room while the actor he will appear with onscreen is actually in another, for example, has only honed those abilities.

Love seeing you laugh.

I think after 18 months of working together, the actors really have formed special bonds with one another. As Martin said, Wellington is sort of its own little world. When you’re thrown together like that, I suppose you’d better learn to get along or it would be one miserable experience.

I think Sir Peter chose his actors wisely; strong performers, yes, but also team players willing to work together on a common goal—to make the “best home movie” possible (and yes, I loved it when PJ walked out filming the audience). One suspects egomaniacs are not welcome on a PJ set.

In fact, there appears to be a whole village of wonderfully talented, dedicated and generous individuals who work with Sir Peter to make his vision come to life onscreen. I know Disneyland is supposed to be the happiest place on earth, but I am beginning to wonder if it isn’t a patch of New Zealand instead.

I have so much respect and admiration for them all. It certainly takes a lot of time, hard work and probably some serious headaches—learning to deal with the stench of hot, sweaty dwarf, for example (oh, Richard, you do make me smile)—but they are seeing this dream come together in this creation of a different world

One of my favorite pics. Martin and Andy mugging for the cameras, and Richard simply looking happy to be there.

He spoke of feeling the pressure because of the huge expectations for TH coming on the heels of the enormous popularity of LOTR trilogy. Richard mentioned envying the original actors who had no idea whether the films would be a huge success when they were making them.

He knows he’s got to bring his “A” game, as we say here in the states; frankly, I have no fears he will do anything less. As the fellows at theOneRingNet said, he already owns the role of Thorin. My gosh, but that 3-D poster is simply magnificent! So is the bloke standing in front of it.

Two beauties. Does it look like Thorin is wearing a little Guyliner?

And it seems as if Richard isn’t done with the “little world” of Wellington. Judging by what he told one interviewer, they are nowhere near to actually having the film wrapped, with important battle scenes yet to be filmed. He mentioned he will be going back into training prior to shooting those scenes. I can only imagine wielding Orcrist is quite a workout, especially underneath all the padding, prosthetics, hair and costume.
Will he return to NZ after filming the “tornado movie” or get to return to London for a while or start another project here in the States before going back to Wellie? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
I think one thing is certain. The Richard Armitage Drought is over for now. And if RA makes it to Comic-Con next year, I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets his own standing ovation.  For by then, the world will have discovered the Power of the Alpha Dwarf.

Richard, you made us mighty proud once again.

All photos courtesy of the hard-working Ali at www.richardarmitagenet.com  Thanks!!

Richard in Kiwiland: Hope you’re having fun. We miss you, dearest!


Our lovely lad from Leicestershire just before making his little speech at the Powhiri welcoming ceremony. He looks so excited . . . and his nostrils are flaring just a bit. *sigh*'

Dear Richard,

I know you are having a fabulous time on the other side of the world in New Zealand. You’ve traveled quite a lot to shoot your various projects–Budapest, South Africa, Moscow, and various locations around the U.K., to name some of your destinations–but there’s been nothing like your experience across NZ as you shoot a major role in two huge films virtually guaranteed to be hits. No pressure on you, right? 😉

Seriously, Richard I have absolutely no doubt you are going to be incredible as Thorin and I totally believe the buzz about you, Richard Armitage, being the biggest break-out star from the films. I know you are a level-headed guy and you keep that head endearingly unswelled–but deep inside, do you feel a real sense of excitement and anticipation over all the possibilities that lie before you for your career, for your life? Do you have to pinch yourself on occasion to make sure it’s not all a lovely dream?

It's not just a dream, Richard. After all those years of hard work and struggle, it's happening for you.

My hope is that lots of interesting and varied projects come your way in the wake of this iconic role–a character you have loved since childhood–roles that will offer plenty of challenge and satisfaction to help you stretch yourself as an actor and to enjoy the journey as you do so. Happiness–that is what I wish for you, happiness in all facets of your life.  You’re more than a fine actor, you are a very special human being, and the admiration and affection you inspire in us makes us want the world for you.

Relief map of New Zealand

Relief map of New Zealand (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was quite tickled to see you taking photos in that last videoblog. I am glad you are getting some time to play tourist amidst all that hard work. There is certainly plenty of scenic locales and breathtaking natural beauty to stop and appreciate. The Kiwis seem most friendly and hospitable and  I am sure you are storing many amazing memories that will last a lifetimes.

I know it’s probably an exhausting shooting schedule but I hope when you fall into bed each night it is with the satisfaction of a job well done– a job you love to do. I imagine a tired but happy smile stretching across that lovely face as you close your eyes . . .

God bless you, Richard, and I hope you enjoy what I assume will be an Easter break.  Take care.

With love,

Your ardent admirer,


PS We really wouldn’t object if you appear in the next videoblog and even say a few words. In your nice, deep, authoritative Thorin voice if you like. Just a thought.

Mr. Armitage has won an well-deserved award . . .

Richard Armitage at the 2010 Television BAFTAs.

Richard Armitage at the 2010 Television BAFTAs. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was announced today by the International Callipygian Society that British actor Richard Crispin Armitage, currently in New Zealand filming the role of Thorin for Sir Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit films, has been named Callipygian Male Extraordinaire. Throngs of females (and a not insignificant number of males) are expected to celebrate this event by staging marathons of fanvids and show clips from the actor’s well-rounded roles. “We don’t call the man ‘Sweet Cheeks’ for nothing,” said one rabid fan.  Another commented,  “We love how Richard always fleshes out his characters so booti-fully.”