Richard Armitage to outsource cuticle nibbling
Richard Armitage’s left hand, positioned as his right is signing an autograph, ComicCon San Diego, July 14, 2012. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com
RAeuters: Los Angeles
In response to industry concerns that Richard Armitage’s cuticles appear to have taken a disturbing decline in recent photos from charmingly neglected to frighteningly abandoned, the actor’s publicist called a press conference today to announce that in future, the breakout star of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, would contract for services.
When asked why Armitage would take such a drastic step, or if he was responding to some specific criticism, the publicist remained non-commital. “I think Mr. Armitage is conscious of the general sentiment that’s been in the air lately. In response, he will begin taking bids for cuticle nibbling via his London agent’s office starting October 1st,” he noted. “Priority will be given to bids that guarantee efficient, effective treatment with sharp incisors but a gentle, teasing bite.”
The modest thespian has long been known for fingers that combined a unique aesthetic beauty, contrasting a smooth surface and architectural solidity with the rugged virility of his trademark chewed-up cuticle. The effect was particularly potent along the thumbnail. Industry insiders speculate that the prospect of a prominent appearance of Armitage’s thumb in a episode of Spooks, Robin Hood, or Strike Back raised numbers by upwards of a million viewers per episode.
Concern about the status of Armitage’s cuticles began to surface during summer 2012, in the wake of the appearance of the first “beauty shot” publicity stills for his upcoming role as Thorin Oakenshield. While his face and beard were presented in a resolution that made it possible for fans to engage in competitive stubble counting, portions of the pictures presenting Thorin’s hands were blurred and the thumbs were obscured. These publicity stills caused speculation that the English actor’s thumb was in ill health, or had even been amputated.
[Right: Thumb amputee Armitage? Right hand in detail of publicity still of Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield taken for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com]
Spokespersons for the major unions that represent thumb amputee actors were split regarding the idea that Armitage might suddenly have become one of them. While some members resented the competition for the few roles available, others felt that a decision by Armitage to stop displaying his thumb might spark more demand to see such actors in leading roles.
But cosmetologists in the know scoffed at these rumors, pointing out that the extensive finger prostheses Armitage had to wear everyday in order to convince viewers that his fingers were chunky and slightly contorted were probably taking their toll on his cuticles.
“He has simply got to add a moisturizing regime for his thumbs to his bedtime regime,” commented one makeup artist emphatically when she saw the Thorin “beauty shot” stills. “It’s definitely strange that those pictures don’t include his thumbs, which are possibly in very bad shape after months and months of gluing things to his fingers. If he’s not careful, that’s going to take its toll on his skin.”
These general worries seemed to have been justified when closeup photos taken during an autograph session at the 2012 San Diego ComicCon [detail at left] revealed proof that something terrible had happened to Richard Armitage’s cuticles.
Rather than smooth across the base and juicy but slightly ragged on the margins, the cuticles appeared dehydrated, possibly flaky at the based, and clearly out of control, with a strong white cast that spoke of over-washing with harsh soap, or perhaps even glue residue. “Even worse,” one fan remarked to reports after the Hall H Hobbit panel, “it looks like no one has bitten them from the side in weeks!”
[Right: The thumbs that launched a thousand obsessions? Richard Armitage's thumb caresses Daniela Denby-Ashe's temple in episode 4 of North & South. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com]
Armitage has not announced a further project after the wrap of his current film, Black Sky. The tornado epic would not have demanded the actor’s trademark thumb hygiene — further fueling prognostications that the condition of Armitage’s cuticles was no longer suitable for the real thumb money shots that had carried his productions ever since North & South (2004).
Under pressure to affirm the continued vitality of the thumbs that have long been seen by producers as money in the bank, Armitage’s press representative finally caved in to pressure for comment. “Mr. Armitage’s eponychia are just fine,” the publicist declared, denying any problems. “It’s just that now that his days are busier and his career more secure, he has less time — and less reason — to bite his nails or chew on his cuticles.”
The publicist refused comment on which contractor the quiet actor might prefer to bite on his cuticles, noting that he expected bids from the major agencies providing such services to actors across the world. Knowledgeable insiders, however, speculated that the movie star would refuse the services of all of the main services in preference to a source that could be relied on to maintain silence and not tweet about the experience in order to add clients. One leading darkhorse candidate Armitage was expected to consult was thought to be a reclusive history professor who has blogged extensively and in detail about the actor’s cuticles and was thought to be more aware than even professional manicurists — who have long followed the thumby actor’s career — of their unique shape, size, condition and need for periodic biting. Though she had never nibbled cuticles professionally before, her insider knowledge is thought to give her a head-start in comparison to industry professionals. Her likely presence in the competition also explains the insistence of Armitage’s publicist that all bids, including the winner’s, would be held completely confidential.
The iconic thumb-biter of his age? Richard Armitage in a 2005 photoshoot. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com
At the same press conference, Armitage’s publicist announced that a picture of the actor almost biting his cuticles would be included in an upcoming Manhattan gallery show of neo-Warholesque avantgarde artists. “The inclusion of Armitage’s cuticles in this show proves,” he stated, “that his thumbs will continue to maintain their drawing power.”
The show itself sold out within minutes of opening.