Tag Archives: Richard’s early roles

“Playing to people’s fantasies of who THEY think you are . . .” STAGED. My first impressions

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Yes, my DVD arrived. Mr. Dennison has kindly give us several repeats of his short black & white film on this DVD so we don’t have to keep rewinding. I have now seen it at least five times and here it comes again.

Here is young Richard–pre-“Sparkhouse,” pre-“Cold Feet” and “North & South,” all the way back to the late 90s, the promise of his current gob-smacking beauty in that face, this big, rangy man who nonetheless moves with such agility.

And he’s good. The promise of the talent that will shine in future roles is there, too. Within the 15 minutes, we see anger, humiliation,  humor, wistfulness, predatory lust, tenderness . . . much of the emotion expressed in his face and body language.

RA plays an actor, Darryl Newman, who was on top before suffering the humiliation of his wife Lisa’s affair and films that bomb at the box office.  Now, battling confidence and trust issues, he’s trying to make a comeback with a stage performance alongside Lisa in London.  But it’s a bumpy ride.  (Please forgive the quality of these screencaps. They are literally photos I took of the TV screen with my trusty Olympus.)

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Darryl  recalls when the work stopped being fun as he found himself caught up in “playing to people’s fantasies of who THEY think you are . . .”  That line struck me because I thought of how RA has often said it’s the characters women are attracted to, not old boring Richard himself. And I wonder if doubts have plagued him from time to time–does this woman like me for me, or is it Thornton, or Guy, or Porter, et al she really wants?

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Darryl and Lisa about to engage in some anger sex. The poor actress has to wrestle with a half-naked Richard on top of her on the sofa. Tough job, but I suppose someone has to do it.

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Now for technical issues. Having some problems with sound. I have to run my air conditioner and even with the volume cranked up to full blast on my flat screen, still having trouble hearing some of the dialogue. I can’t seem to play it on the PC using Window Media and I never got around to installing VLC on this laptop (add to list of things to do) so I am a little frustrated in that department. After all, who wants to miss out on Mr. A’s gorgeous honeyed baritone?  Also helps if you can hear all the dialogue. 😉

I do like the black and white photography, as I have always been a fan of films and still photos in B&W. Depending on the lighting (and the scene), Richard’s features sometimes look a bit hard and “mean” and in other instances, boyish and sweet. But then, we are accustomed to that with our chameleon, aren’t we?

That being said–on a more shallow note–I am enjoying seeing shirtless RA with his broad shoulders and tempting chest. The smattering of chest hair–and suggestion of hair—down below? *gulp* Those strong arms in action. The familiar moles on his back.  I love those moles. *sigh*

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And the eyelashes, Oh my. Those lashes . . .

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Will be interested to hear what other people think.

Early Armitage: Handsome Man (with Too Much Hair Product?)

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Richard in a guest spot as Craig Parker in “Casualty.”  He really seemed to love the gel back in the day, which was 2001, by the way.

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Also in 2001, Richard played a doctor for the first time–Dr. Tom Steele–in the BBC daytime drama “Doctors.” This physician was a far cry from the dedicated Dr. Track from 2005’s “The Golden Hour.”

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The next year, Richard would go into an audition as the character and win the role of the painfully shy and awkward Yorkshire sheep farmer John Standring in “Sparkhouse”–and more than prove he wasn’t just another “pretty face.” This fella had beauty AND talent. And a whole lot more . . .

I saw RA on American TV again.

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OK, it was actually in Shakespeare Uncovered, a six-part miniseries that originated on the BBC that combines “history, biography, iconic performances, new analysis and the personal passions of its celebrated subject” (so says the PBS website). I watched the first two eps in the wee hours of the morning, with Ethan Hawke focusing on Macbeth and Joely Richardson (with able assistance from her mother, Vanessa Redgrave) hosting an hour devoted to some of Shakespeare’s comedies. I very much enjoyed both–lots of food for thought and wonderful to see so many of my favorite actors emoting the Bard’s timeless words– and have them DVRed so I can revisit when I like.

My fellow Americans should check your local PBS listings if you want to join in on viewing this impressive series.

The first ep with Hawke featured snippets of various filmed and televised performances from over the years, including the Antony Sher production for the RSC with Richard playing the role of Angus. The blog post I recently did on RA with a compilation of his clips is linked below (“RA in the Scottish Play“) if you happened to miss it.

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I admit I squeed with delight when I saw that handsome bearded young man in military costume seated at the table and had to share the moment whilst chatting on Twitter at 1:30 a.m. Yep, should have been asleep. Downton Abbey sort of put a kibosh on that (as mentioned in previous post, not a cheery ep).

He’s gone from the background to the forefront, and I am so very, very proud of him. More handsome, more confident, more charismatic than ever and such an amazing talent that goes from strength to strength.  It’s wonderful to look back and to ponder what may lie ahead for my favorite actor.

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Richard’s first appearance in a big budget blockbuster. Nope, not The Hobbit.

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The Hobbit trilogy is not Richard’s first foray into the blockbuster sci fi/fantasy genre. Back in 1999, he appeared in a miniscule role in the first film of the prequel trilogy to the Star Wars franchise, Star Wars: Episode I-The Phantom Menace. In fact, Richard himself has said he has a hard time finding Richard Armitage in the final film!  He played a Naboo fighter pilot and apparently donned costumes for one or two other characters, but he thinks they ended up on the cutting room floor. The above photo has appeared at more than one site and, judging by those eyes, I’d say there is a good chance this is RA in a scene with Natalie Portman.

Richard also ended up on Star Wars trading cards. Here’s the photo that appeared on the back of some of them:

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I think he was still lovin’ the hair gel back then. Just teasin,’ Rich. You look handsome. But not as handsome as you do now.

And I have to say you’ve come a long way, baby!

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Want some early Armitage emoting?

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Thank you, Nadia, for the heads up on this black & white film trailer at Vimeo featuring a young Richard Armitage and an actress named Jennifer Taylor Lawrence.

“Staged” was filmed in London at the Hackney Empire Theatre in 1999. The trailer was uploaded by Darren Denison, who directed the film. Denison said Richard and his co-star, who were chosen out of hundreds of applications by actors and talent agencies, were “amazing to work with.” Take a gander.    Would love to hear your thoughts!

(If you have RealPlayer, you can also download the trailer to your own computer.)

The link to the trailer is here:
                https://vimeo.com/56946099
I suspect as RA’s star continues to rise, we will see more of this sort of thing, of photos, trailers, et al. from his earlier career appearing online. Personally, I am waiting for the Cleopatra DVD to get a new cover, touting RA as one of its “stars.”  🙂
This is Richard with his co-star in the stage production "Use Me as Your Cardigan." He does a bit of smouldering in this trailer, too.

This is Richard with his co-star in another role, in the stage production “Use Me as Your Cardigan.” He does a bit of smouldering in this trailer for “Staged,” too.