Armitage as father

Picking up on an affirmative comment by OML, here, I wanted to think a bit more about what is appealing about the possibility of seeing Mr. Armitage playing a father, as he will apparently do as John Porter in Strike Back. He’s commented, in regard to a prompt about the father/daughter relationship: “It’s a difficult one. He was absent when Alexandra was born, and for a lot of her childhood, and his marriage to Diane is pulled apart by his job. But as much as there’s a difficult relationship between father and daughter, there’s actually an incredible relationship there. As she gets older you see that she’s a phenomenal girl. She really challenges Porter, she presses his moral buttons and he likes the fact that she’s bolshie. She’s also confrontational about what he does and that’s a problem he carries with him, he’s always thinking, ‘How would she judge me?’.”

Obviously, this is not the first time he’s played a role that involved fatherhood. For instance, Paul Andrews is a father to Fiona and a step-father to Kieran (and seems a pretty decent one, when he’s allowed to be — one of the redeeming features of this series is exactly how complex a character Paul Andrews is despite his commission of what is, in my opinion, a rather more serious crime than the script itself concedes):

Richard Armitage as Paul Andrews in Between the Sheets, episode 6. Source: Richard Armitage Central Gallery

Claude Monet is a father, and although this is one of those charming moments from The Impressionists that sets my teeth on edge, the real Claude Monet does seem to have enjoyed a close relationship with his sons and several of his stepchildren:

Isobel Pravda as Camille Doncieux and Richard Armitage as Claude Monet with their son, Jean, in The Impressionists, episode 1. Source: Richard Armitage Central Gallery

And, of course, Guy of Gisborne is a father. Cough. Not one of Guy’s shining moments: indeed, one that prevents many viewers of the series from ever sympathizing with the character in his quest to win Marian, but also one that many fanfic writers have tried to address in tying up the “loose end” of Seth and Annie:

Though Guy has recently abandoned their child in Sherwood Forest, Annie believes there is a side to Guy he cannot show. Joanna Horton and Richard Armitage in Robin Hood 1.4, “Parent Hood.” Source: RobinHood2006.com [site now defunct]

Then, of course, there’s the role in which Armitage has to confront his failure to have all the things that other men have: Lucas North. And other men are fathers.

Richard Armitage as Lucas in Elizaveta’s kitchen at the end of Spooks 7.2, looking in pain at a drawing by her son, which he’s taken down from the refrigerator to examine more closely while waiting for her to arrive. Source: Richard Armitage Central Gallery

This particular moment of Spooks 7.2 is epic–it says so much with no words at all. It actually reminds me of Iliad, Book 18, in which the poet describes the shield of Achilles. Though this object has been interpreted in various ways by different critics, I have always understood it as a sign of the paradox that creates the tragedy of Achilles. On his shield are wrought all of the symbols of civilization which are liable to be destroyed by war, all of the things that Achilles is fighting to preserve but which he himself will never be able to have. In the Spooks script, this is one of the moments that allow us to glimpse just how high the price is that Lucas pays for the life, calm, and happiness — but always of others. Lucas has lost everything and suffers for it dearly; and yet his suffering is the cost of the things that MI-5 works to preserve for the citizens of the United Kingdom.

Oops, got a little far afield there. Anyway, I’ve been puzzling about the reasons that I find the question of Armitage as parent so intriguing and have come up with some possibilities. It is a facet of human life that his roles haven’t capitalized on before, so it will definitely be something new. John Porter’s relationship with his daughter fits well into the hurt/comfort scenario I broached much earlier and then never developed. Maybe I just like the idea that Mr. Armitage would take the role of a character who is proud of his daughter. (This issue pushes a personal trigger for me, since my relationship with my father is challenging, and presumably for my father as well.) I sense a wish-fulfillment aspect in my thinking, in that Mr. Armitage is close enough in age to me that I could daydream about having had his child. There is also a melancholy note to all of this in that Armitage has occasionally mused inconclusively upon the potential of reproducing in some of his interviews and called himself “broody.”

What makes us want to see Mr. Armitage in the father role? The floor is open.

~ by Servetus on April 24, 2010.

21 Responses to “Armitage as father”

  1. That’s a great scene in Spooks you mention. I love the way Elisaveta snatches the drawing out of his hands. Very poignant.

    Personally I’m no more or less eager to see RA in a fatherhood role than any other role, but I would imagine that the desire some have to see him playing a father is associated with the expectation that it might be a kind and nurturing role. As there is nothing quite like seeing a man be loving and gentle with a child. In a world where men wield so much destruction, it’s a heartwarming sight. In this sense the desire to see RA in a fatherhood role could be compared to why many embark on the quest to find the “good” in Guy of Gisborne. Perhaps it is the desire to see the qualities one values be represented by RA (a desirable himself!) on screen?

    As for broodiness… this is one of the many reasons that I will (happily) not be having any children! This is perhaps not a good thing – but being a writer, one is inclined to be attracted to broody men!

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  2. I think it’s a natural instinct for a woman (in her childbearing years), that if she is extremely attracted to a man, (more than just sexually) that her maternal instincts would prompt a feeling of wanting to be the mother of his children. Perhaps not every woman would feel this way, but it is certainly a good reason why the human race has persisted so long! LOL
    This reminds me of a skit on the TV show SCTV (from the ’70’s) where Catherine O’Hara plays an actress called Lola Heatherton who repeatedly and indiscriminently makes the remark, “I want to bear your child!” Here’s a clip if you’re too young to remember:

    Sorry, I’m not meaning to make fun of this topic, but I DO laugh whenever I think of that skit!

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  3. Inspiring post — I’m thinking about this more broadly now, to other actors who play fathers or reluctant fathers. Fascinating.

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  4. Let’s not forget the fact that the chap is “staggeringly handsome” and we like the idea of his gorgeous genes being perpetuated!

    As a mother of three kids, I have been charmed by all the scenes in which RA has played a parent. I especially liked the train scene in the Impressionists with Camille and the baby. How do parents amuse a small child on a long train journey? Must add that I am literally gaga about small children so I tend to succumb to the cuteness factor/poignancy of the scenes in which he plays a parent rather than analysing them in any great depth.

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    • Gorgeous genes: To be sure, as Mrs. Thornton would say!

      I have never found kids cute, but I have noticed that you really notice things about people’s characters when they are around children.

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  5. I thought of a broody hen too, and I don’t have much history with chickens! Thanks for that article — I don’t think I’ve read it before, although it’s been much quoted!
    Glad you liked the clip. SCTV (Second City TV) was such a seminal comedy group from Canada and the U.S. and I actually think back on them quite often. But then, I am somewhat of a comedy groupie wannabe! LOL
    I do love a man who loves children. In fact, I will admit that I actually chose my husband because I just knew he would make a good father! If a woman really wants children I think that is very good criteria. I have been married 27+ years, have 2 lovely, talented, kind children and am still in love with their father! (Don’t mean to brag, but…)

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  6. This is the first page, if you’re interested:

    It is hard to find. It is no longer on the Mail site itself, and I think that some sites don’t link to it or reproduce it because their stance is that the fandom should be about the performances, not about Mr. Armitage himself, and this is a wildly personal interview. I think I had read somewhere that he didn’t realize he was speaking on the record, or something.

    And I think that is a great reason to choose a husband. My mother told me once that she thought there were a few good reasons to get married. I can’t remember all of them (I think one was “having a willing sexual partner handy”), but I know that one was “if you want to have children it is still the best environment for them.” That would make knowing your partner would be a good father high on the list, if children were a priority.

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  7. My comment led to a post…you made my day servetus!

    Personally I’m moved by a man who’s nice and enjoys being around kids and in general I like children so I agree with Skully that expecting a ‘kind and nurturing’ role and ‘…the desire to see the qualities one values be represented by RA (a desirable himself!) on screen’ might be some reasons.

    Also RA has me used to seeing him in different roles, different complex characters, so I think there’s also a curiosity factor to see another facet of his acting. We’ve only had glimpses and with RA I expect not just the good or bad father but a deeper relationship, a deeper development of what makes that character a good or bad parent. (Of course we’d get to see that if that character’s main description involves being a father, in SB’s case I know it won’t have much screen time but if he’s mentioned is because it is relevant -more than 5min screen time- to the series).

    On the ‘marrying a nurturing man’ subject, once I read an article that mentioned there was a “study” that showed that the man women wanted to ‘make’ their children with was different from the man they wanted to raise them, they wanted ‘good genes’ but a loving and caring father for them (not an easy combination to find) aiming at a genetic explanation for ‘cheating’.

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    • I think this is quite perceptive; we’re looking for a similar complication of the father aspect of the character of the role to that which we see in his other roles.

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  8. He also was a father when he played the role of Macduff in the Shakespeare Retold version of Macbeth.

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    • Thanks and welcome, Leslieg. It would be great if you were to comment on that more because I haven’t seen it yet.

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  9. […] daughter, I assume. Not sure what exactly this cap depicts, but in light of our interest in Armitage as father, I thought it was adorable. Source: Y I […]

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  10. […] an analytical level. I don’t have good answers. I’m thinking back to our discussion of Armitage as father, and what if anything about that is applicable here. The second thing that transfixed me was Mr. […]

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  11. […] impulses and tastes as actor — I’ve noted in passing, for instance, an example of ties between Lucas North and Achilles, and how the photography of the defeated John Porter takes on this same mood. This ongoing struggle […]

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  12. […] okay, this probably means the beard will be gone. Darn. But Armitage as father, oh, yeah; he was amazing as Alexandra Porter's father. It almost makes me want to keep blogging […]

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  13. […] More Richard Armitage as father heroism with Max Deacon and Nathan Kress in Into the […]

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  14. […] the Roundabout Theater Company. Another entry in the “Armitage as father” sweepstakes (here and here and here), except Kenneth is not the “father as rescuer” […]

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