fanstRAvaganza two, Day 2!

fanstRAvaganza 2 has kicked off and the fun has begun! We hope this week give you a chance to revel completely and unabashedly in the enjoyment of the work of our favorite actor, Richard Armitage, and learn more about the opinions and reactions of our fellow fans in Armitageworld. Thanks to Nat and Traxy for their organizational efforts. You can vote on my poll (which Porter trousers?) from Day One till the end of the event next Monday — one attempt per person. And don’t forget to keep visiting the blogs of the bloggers below for all kinds of fun stuff:

An RA Viewer’s Perspective (Mulubinba)

The Spooks Fan Blog (Skully)

The Squeee! (Traxy)

Avalon’s Blog (Avalon)

Phylly’s Faves (Phylly)

RA Frenzy (Frenz)

The Richard Armitage Fan Blog – (Nat)

From the Quill Tip (Sarah)

CDoart: Richard Armitage & History & Spooks (CDoart)

Nevermind, Mr. Armitage (pi)

Mesmered’s Blog (Prue)

White Rose Writings (Musa)

Confessions of a Watcher (Judiang)

Richard Armitage Fan Videos & Graphics (bccmee)

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It was an early interest of mine as a blogger – one I was able to cultivate in honor of the first fanstRAvaganza – to shine a spotlight on some fans of Mr. Armitage in order to highlight all of the analysis and creativity that his work has inspired. A year later, I continue to find the perspectives of the smart crew of people that make up Armitageworld remarkably interesting. For fanstRAvaganza 2, I’ve interviewed three fans whom I wanted to know more about. Each was asked to pick a screencap she particularly liked, to identify a scene from Armitage’s work that she finds particularly compelling and talk about why, and answer some questions from me.

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The first interview I’m pubishing was with fitzg, who did me the honor of being one of the inaugural commentators on my blog. Right from the very beginning, she was hopping in with notes on Renaissance art, comparisons to twentieth-century actors and their performances, and that unique, self-deprecating, dry wit that always makes me look forward to one of her posts. She’s not immune to a little squee, but she’s equally been a valuable interlocutor on some of my more (cough) abstract ideas. She’s also cultivated a strong familiarity with classic theater, cinema, and television, and often displays a strong capacity to orient Mr. Armitage’s work within the world of screen work by acting greats of the twentieth century. I wanted to get her perspective on where Mr. Armitage’s work belongs in this tradition, and also learn what keeps her watching even when he’s not doing “great art.”

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One of fitzg’s favorite caps, from The Impressionists, episode 2: Claude Monet (Richard Armitage) reacts in disappointment to an unexpected visitor to the 1874 exhibit of impressionist works. My cap.

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Servetus: What was your first exposure to Mr. Armitage’s work, and what kept you watching?

fitzg: It was Robin Hood, by accident. Ironically, a friend had strongly recommended the PBS airing of North & South. By the time we had sorted the fact that it was Mrs. Gaskell, not the American Civil War, I’d pretty much missed it. My first impression of Richard Armitage was of his sheer screen presence and the quality of his voice. Followed by noticing that he isn’t a half-bad actor … which, of course, is a reassuring sequel to what seems like an superficial reaction. And RH was good fun; possibly a bit critically underrated. I made a rapid visit to Amazon for N&S, The Impressionists and RH. As a work in a different genre, N&S offered another environment for Armitage. With a superb cast, production values and script, it was the opportunity for him to stretch his talents. It allowed viewers to appreciate the actor’s versatility more profoundly.

S: To your taste, with which figures of theater or cinema has he the greatest kinship?

fitzg: A difficult question at present. My first thought was of the younger Orson Welles, particularly in his production of The Third Man. Similarities in that work, especially the intensity of acting and the intriguing mystery of Harry Lime, are perhaps most reminiscent of Armitage in the Lucas North role.

I am trying to think of a more contemporary example, preferably one who is still actually breathing. You may attribute this failure to current obsessive blindness. Ask again in six months. Or more. I find myself thinking of Benedict Cumberbatch in the current Sherlock, who has that intensity and the sense of his having carefully thought through his presentation of the character. Perhaps he has been influenced by Richard Armitage?

Orson Welles as Harry Lime in The Third Man (1949).

S: What, about his work, is likely to survive for posterity?

fitzg: We’ve only yet seen the tip of the iceberg. To date, I would suspect that N&S will definitely be regarded as iconic, certainly for its genre. I cannot think of another actor with the capacity to present a Thornton of the same quality. Others may take the role, but as Colin Firth gave us the quintessential Darcy, Richard Armitage has offered audiences the quintessential Thornton. The joy of following the evolution of an actor’s career lies in charting the progress he’s made through previous work. Doing this for an actor is no less compelling than tracking the progression of Claude Monet’s work and the influences it absorbed. As Armitage grows to be more widely known, both new viewers and critics will re-visit all his current and earlier work.

I happen to feel that Gisborne was a tour de force. RH should survive, not least for Armitage’s contribution of the Gisborne role, but also for the disparate elements that, to this amateur reviewer, made a flawed production ultimately a success. Besides, it was fun!

S: You’re also a big reader, something you share with Mr. Armitage. Do you see any ways in which his style and choices of reading are playing into his performances?

fitzg: For a reading-oriented actor, books will have a strong influence. Mr. Armitage has mentioned Crime and Punishment. I wonder how strongly the concepts of sin and redemption in that work influenced his views of Guy of Gisborne? I’m not about to relate this theme to the Lucas North role, because the script of series 9 of Spooks was too flawed to be altogether credible. Obviously, his acquaintance with Tolkien will be reflected in the rendering of Thorin. Or so one expects. Actors imbibe (consciously, subliminally) many influences. It is a fluid process.

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fitzg’s choice of a particularly inspiring performance by Mr. Armitage fell upon The Impressionists, during the scene at the first Impressionist exhibit of 1874, which took place in the Boulevard des Capucines.

The scene in which Camille enters the barely-attended first exhibition of the group that was not yet calling itself Impressionists has a poignancy that presages her shocking deathbed scene. That a man can observe the death of a loved spouse, and reach for the palette and brushes to record it, as I learned in a course on these painters, is painful to contemplate. Nevertheless, it represented the artist’s sensibility and priorities. And perhaps that ability to disengage and apply objectivity to emotion was Monet’s instinctive method of working through the grief. I still find it difficult to look at the portrait of Camille.

In the scene, after 0:53, we see a rapid change of expressions on Monet’s face. A visitor! First, excited, hopeful anticipation. Then: it’s only Camille. We see the dropping of Monet’s face in exquisite disappointment. The realization: my wife. A not entirely convincing or heart-felt smile. The dropping of the face toward contemplation. A painful swallow. This is only a very tiny segment of Armitage’s work in this series, but those seconds of “microexpressions” make a powerful tribute to the actor’s ability to inhabit the character.

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Sean Connery as Hotspur (Harry Percy) in a cap from An Age of Kings (1960).

S: You are known as a fan of (Sir) Sean Connery….

fitzg: Ha! You are putting my obsessions under the microscope?! (Left myself open for that).

S: This is a blog about a magnificent obsession, after all …

fitzg: I first saw Sir Sean at the impressionable (in all ways) age of fifteen as Hotspur in a BBC production: An Age of Kings. He would have been 29/30. I have had a one-sided, arm’s length love affair ever since. My favorites among his work are The Man Who Would Be Kin (1975), and Robin and Marian (1976). The chemistry between Connery and Michael Caine in the former, and then between SC and Audrey Hepburn in the latter, was striking. I think the “disgrace” to the Celtic nation (knighthood) emerged from BondAge to acting. So there we go…

S: … so what similarities, if any, do you see between Armitage and Connery?

Both actors have screen charisma. Both are very tall. There is a similarity in the way they move. Both have had training and careers as dancers in musicals. Both are (more or less?) dark. Both actors have memorable and distinctive voices. So much for similarities.

One has strong screen charisma. The other has strong screen charisma and is an actor.

One way to get Guy (Richard Armitage) out of bed. From Robin Hood 3.1.

S: Gisborne. Why the “obsession” and how can you help other sufferers get over it?

fitzg: It’s not my couch on which he lolls. I wouldn’t have him in my house a day. Seriously, this was a very strong and individualistic performance. And I’m not enlarging on the sensuality of the presentation. It’s there, as a force of nature. Gisborne did come to dominate the series. At the same time, my impression is also that Mr. Armitage is a generous ensemble player. Apart from off-screen comments by those involved, I felt that this trait was most evident in scenes with Lucy Griffiths, and those with Keith Allen, and last but not least, those with Joe Armstrong, whose Allan was a combination of humor and heart-rending pathos.

As for getting over it, it’s Angie’s couch! Even if she does kick him off, I’ll continue to re-visit that distinctive performance, including the truly funny scenes from the third series. It was a rounded characterization.

Another cap from fitzg’s selected scene: Claude Monet (Richard Armitage) forces a not entirely sincere smile for his wife as she enters the lonely exhibit in The Impressionists, episode 2. My cap.

S: You, like me, have been frustrated with the interviews with Mr. Armitage that we read in the popular press. What interview questions would you ask Richard Armitage if you had the chance?

fitzg: Circuses, needless to say, are barred from the list. So are girlfriends. When I think about this I conclude that I would only have a few minutes grace, between a punch-up in Captain America, a sword-fight in The Hobbit, and an assassination attempt in Strike Back 2. So we probably wouldn’t get far… but here are my questions:

a) Have you been strongly influenced by past actors and why?

b) In view of your statements concerning approaching a role with a biography/backstory for the character, has it been difficult to adapt to script surprises in television dramas? Have you found that your personal understanding of the character evolves during the process?

c) With regard to presenting a Richard III completely divorced from that of Shakespeare and the Tudor regime, how closely would it be based on The Sunne in Splendour? Is there sufficient nuance/shades of black and white within that source to render a Richard as more than a much maligned and as a normally flawed human figure?

S: Finally: when are you going to start a blog?

fitzg: As soon as Malcolm signs that 24/7 contract as tech pro. As soon as I can think of an approach/theme/tone that is not already covered by the blogs involved in organizing Fanstravaganza…

S: Thanks for your time, fitzg!

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Fitzg reports of herself: Capricorn, the dead boring star-sign. In addition, goats are silly-looking. (Of course, there is that Monet beard.) Not a mountain goat, either. Fear of heights; just the thought of the Eifel elevator see-through floor is vertiginous. But for a premature birth, I could have been an Aquarian. A contender. Aquarians have more fun; back during the Age of Aquarius, they seemed to, anyway. Perhaps it was the sex, drugs and rock and roll. Still, goat hooves remain on the ground (precipices excluded). Well, except for confrontation with Mr. Armitage. Wonder if Malcolm is a Capricorn…

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[Fan showcases from last year are here: bZirk, Eli, LadyKate63. I plan to continue this feature irregularly while I continue to blog Mr. Armitage. If you would be interested in being interviewed, please let me know. My email address is in the sidebar under “About.” — Servetus]

~ by Servetus on March 15, 2011.

37 Responses to “fanstRAvaganza two, Day 2!”

  1. Lovely! Just got in from a meeting I had to cover and getting ready to pack it up and call it a night, but had to spend time with the wonderful Fitzg and “hear” her erudite and witty responses. I share her love for the stars from the golden age of the silver screen . . .
    as for Gizzy, what can I say? I am a sucker for tousled-mane smouldering guys wearing lots of straps and buckles, Marvel of Engineering Trousers who possess an endearing affection for Cheez-Its.

  2. What surprised me most about this interview is that I *think* fitzg admitted to finding Mr. Armitage a better actor than Mr. Connery!

  3. Oh, she has admitted that to me already—that’s another thing we share, a longtime crush on Mr. Connery. The first movie I saw in a theatre was James Bond. Which reminds me, I have a gorgeous recent pic of Mr. Connery I must make sure I send fitzg. RAF really liked it 😉

    I’ve been fighting with the #$*&^% internet since a storm passed through right after I got home, but I wanted to add I think the first thing I would say to Mr. Armitage in the unlikely event I ever did interview him is: “Richard, I know you must be as sick of that flippin’ circus as I am. Let’s move on to fresher topics, shall we?” 😀

  4. Lovely interview! I vote Fitzg gets first shot at an RA interview! Again, I can back her up with my pencil sharpening skills if she needs an assistant. 😉

    “One has strong screen charisma. The other has strong screen charisma and is an actor.”…hmmm, I think you may be right, Serv.

    Fitzg..I’m with you on not wanting N&S to end. I remember sitting there when the train is pulling out (after JT plants plants several smooches on Margaret) saying (out loud I think) “No, no…don’t let that be the end. NOOOOOO!” And was relieved to see yet another kisssss! Well, it was still was The End, but I felt better

  5. Yay, fitzg! I like your questions for RA. 🙂

  6. Brilliant interview!

  7. Thankyou so much for sharing Fitzg! I’m really happy to see The Impressionists make an appearance in the FanstRAvaganza this year. I found it very moving as I did RA’s performance. Really like your interview questions too 🙂

  8. Wonderful interview.

    Thanks Fitzg and Servetus.

    Good to see The Impressionists showcased; and what fab questions you want to ask Mr A.

  9. I enjoyed reading both what Servetus said about fits and fitg’s observations on Richard’s acting and questions she would like to ask him.

    Don’t knock the goats! We’ve tenacious, dutiful, loyal and very fun-loving beneath that craggy exterior!

    • I can also say as an Aquarius that we are definitely not having all the fun. I mean, my life is fine, but I’m no radical 🙂

  10. Still not sure how I came to be down as an F2 organiser, but thanks nonetheless. 😉 Wonderful and insightful interview. For the young Orson Welles bit – oooh yeah. Talented, gorgeous, AND he played Mr. Rochester both on film and on the radio (several times on the radio, swoon). ❤

  11. Great to get to know fitzg better! And here’s hoping someday RA will have to answer her questions!

    • that poor man — if he had to answer all our questions?

      • I think you would have to detain him for quite some time Servetus to answer ALL our questions. Would that be a problem for you?? Oh dear!! The picture that just popped into my mind is the one from the viral video where he is all wet and tied to the chair. Yum!!!

        Sorry!!!! Just regained consciousness again. Think I swooned for the moment!! Hope you wouldn’t need to go quite THAT far to get answers out of him.

  12. Great interview Fitzg and Servetus!

    “The Impressionists” was the second time I saw RA (first being N&S) and the second RA DVD I ever bought. Look forward to reading more about Armitage as Monet!

  13. @Traxy, yes, the young Orson remains a favourite. He brooded rather nicely. I do love The Third Man, probably because we were two years in Vienna. Magnificent Ambersons, etc are critically acclaimed as his greatest, but TTM has my heart. War of the Worlds radio broadcast has had a chaequered career. So realistic, listeners reacted more violently than we might have done to 2012. The power of voice and the radio…

    @MillyMe, Bleat, bleat, from offstage left 😀

  14. Gratitude to servetus for allowing little voices, for expert editing, and for intuitive talent as screencap snaffler. Who knew there was a 50-yr-old cap of the Scot Lost in Shakespeare?

    @NovemberBride, no pencil-sharpeners. Colleague for moral support. We’d gather our sang froid to avoid melting into puddles, dropping notes, or blurting out “Were you water-boy to the elephants”.

  15. This was a thought provoking interview. Bravo to Servetus and fitzg. Especially liked the questions for RA. Orson Welles was an artistic genius and ahead of his time. I still see critiques 60+ years later discussing his work with a fresh angle. Citizen Kane is my favorite.

  16. Great interview.
    Thanks Servetus and Fitzg!
    I didn’t realize this, but Connery and Armitage actually have many similarities. I love their voices 🙂
    @ fitzg I also would like to Mr. Armitage answered your questions

  17. ROTFLOL, fitzg!1 Sangfroid indeed! But yeah, I could do that too. I’ll bring our cattle prod to jolt anyone who asks anything remotely close to circus questions. Good grief!

  18. Very interesting read. Love the questions she’d ask RA. I love the inpressionists as well. About to be shallow his eyes were to die for so blue.

  19. Great interview with fitzg, thanks! My favorite part was what she would ask RA in an interview. I sometimes ask myself what questions I would ask of Richard Armitage. I would probably fly by the seat of my pants if I ever had the opportunity to interview him. He wouldn’t know what to expect! 😉

  20. Great questions!

    fitzg, Guy of Giborne WAS a tour de force! Thanks for putting it into words. Awww, man, now I’m going to have to watch The Third Man to check out what you’re talking about.

  21. […] Day One till the end of the event next Monday — one attempt per person, or comment on the informative interview given to this blogger by fitzg. Thanks to Nat and Traxy for their organizational efforts. And don’t forget to keep visiting […]

  22. Thank you Servetus for the questions and fitzg for the answers. Really interesting interview.

  23. Dear Servetus ans Fitzg,
    Thank you for this interview.
    This, once again, gives us some very articulated and analytical point of view about Mr A.’s work as an actor.
    I am “glad” to hear that you too were frustrated by many of the question popular press interviewers had asked him. So many redundancy, and pointless questions, … when we could get so much interesting highlight about his job and the way he perceive it.

    Question b) especially has been bothering me for some times now, among others. So I would very much hear from Mr A. about it.

    If I ever had a chance to question him, I would certainly ask him the following:

    Question a) from fitzg, obviously, (was any reporter ever asked him this question? …)

    Question c) If Mr. A. got the chance to have one full year of spare time (not to be obliged to fulfill any contract for living), what would be the best way to spend it, work related:
    Trying to get into big movie projects, in order to find other channels than the TV series
    Write scenarios or try producing own projects (either theatre of movies).
    Practicing on some specific acting skills (which ones)

    Question d) How much of the past and present performances have been proposed to him, or did he have to go to the process of casting? Why did he chose the ones in which he appears?

    Question d) Would he be inclined to accept a role in movies where his other artistic skills would be used as part of his character (movies about a musician, dancer, singer, …). If yes, who would he like to personify and why?

    Finally, dear Servetus, this totally crazy though hit me when reading your interview: would it happen that Mr. A.’s agent accept a list of questions, gathered from fans ( such the ones from fitzg), and accept that Mr.A. answered them. The answers would then be posted in all related RA fanwebsites, in the same way that his messages have been.
    Wouldn’t that be incredibly challenging for us all, and so meaningful from his part?
    I know, I can keep dreaming ….

    • I think he has been asked about actors he admires. I know Daniel Day-Lewis is on the list.

      On the big question, no idea.

      • Thanks for the input, Servetus. Still, this big first question from Fitzg is hauntig, and for more than one role. And i convinced that we might find within the Mr. A. “blogosphere” enough articulated and wise persons to come up with interesting questions. But then, would take us out of our “fan” position and might be unsetteling and just wrong.

  24. […] you can vote on my poll (which Porter trousers?) till the end of the event next Monday; learn about fitzg’s opinions on Mr. Armitage’s work; participate in the attempt to write a restraining order to prevent undue violence to John Porter […]

  25. […] you can vote on my poll (which Porter trousers?) till the end of the event next Monday; learn about fitzg’s opinions on Mr. Armitage’s work; participate in the attempt to write a restraining order to prevent undue violence to John Porter […]

  26. […] blog, you can vote on my poll (which Porter trousers?) till Monday evening my time; learn about fitzg’s opinions on Mr. Armitage’s work; participate in the attempt to write a restraining order to prevent undue violence to John Porter […]

  27. […] have become fans of Richard Armitage. Previous showcases can be found here: bZirk, Eli, LadyKate63, fitzg, Angieklong, khandy. I plan to continue this feature intermittently, so if you are interested in […]

  28. […] sometimes guest interviewee here at ArmitageWorld.  You may have read Servetus’s wonderful interview with her for Fanstravaganza 2.  Fitz is an interesting, cultured and erudite woman with a small […]

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