fanstRAvaganza two, Day 7!

Just read the news. Oh, man, Libya. Praying for the safety of people on the ground there; please, G-d, shelter the civilians from bombs and missiles, and in the longer term, G-d, please teach humans how to resolve their troubles without having to kill each other.

Anyway, fanstRAvaganza, day seven. There’s some confusion about whether this was a seven- or eight-day event, so some bloggers are wrapping up tonight. I’m not sure yet if this is the last post for me, but my spring break is definitely over. That pile of “things to do” gathering on the desk needs to be addressed, post-haste, as I lecture again tomorrow. (Bright spot: we are up to the 1850s in western civilization, and my students will begin discussing “North & South” this week. Not so bright spot: modern Germany swings into two weeks of the Holocaust.) Anyway, time for one last post before I have to resume my persona as Professor Servetus.

To recap: at this 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 in Strike Back, series 2; read about Angie’s development as a fanfic writer; decide which eyes you’d like John Porter to wear to your first encounter with him; or read about khandy’s journey as a writer of fanfic and now, original fiction. Also, do make sure to visit the participating bloggers’ sites, below:

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)


Thanks to Nat and Traxy for their organizational efforts.



This is not going to be a very well thought-out post. I’d planned a few snazzy things that I wrote myself for fanstRAvaganza two, but they are all two-thirds written, so they’ll have to wait to see the light of day. (Not that I get any sense that that’s an issue for most readers here, frankly. You are an amazingly tolerant crowd. You read anything I write when I write it without complaint. That’s sort of a new writing experience for me.) Someone asked recently in one of the comments whether Armitage had ever said whose acting he found inspiring. I remember this from 2008:

Who are your acting inspirations?
Oh, I suppose, lots and lots of different people: A bit of De Niro, a bit of James Stewart, a bit of Daniel Day-Lewis.

I’ve been kind of wondering lately: if Richard Armitage were to write a fanblog, who would it be about?

Obviously, I don’t have the answer to that question, but the matter of whose work he’s interested in continues to intrigue. He made an interesting mention, in the Vulpes Libres interview of July, 2009, that he was reading a Heath Ledger biography. I looked into this a little and concluded that there are three biographies that it could possibly have been at that point. I picked the one to read that has the most detailed description of Ledger’s acting style and performances, which is also the least sensationalistic of the three, and the one most highly rated by readers at various websites: Brian J. Robb, Heath Ledger: Hollywood’s Dark Star (London: Plexus, 2008). Its publication in London was also a factor for me in the obviously wild extrapolation that this could have been the biography that Mr. Armitage was reading.

Here are some excerpts from Robb’s book that made me think of Armitage. Correlation, obviously, is not causation, and moreover, there are many dissimilarities between Mr. Armitage and Heath Ledger.

  • (p. 20): “When he did start acting in school plays, it was in parts as a sheep and a donkey in a local nativity play.”
  • (p. 21): “Heath liked the stage not for the applause, but because it enabled him to escape, to become someone else for awhile.”
  • (p. 24): “Heath had a supportive family, willing to back whatever interest he wished to pursue. However, he wasn’t coming from a stage background, and neither parent was pushing their kids to act.”
  • (p. 54): “[Ledger] wanted longevity in his career, to tackle serious parts and work with the best directors on the most interesting projects. He knew that to get stuck … would be a huge drawback.”
  • (p. 57): Mel Gibson regarding Ledger’s performance in the The Patriot (2000): “He is far more mature than his age. He was very measured and very deliberate about his work. … He was very accurate, precise, and subtle in what he did.”
  • (p. 81): “As he gained more experience in front of the camera, and then further leading roles, his approach to acting was developing…. Ledger developed his own unique version of method acting. He had begun to internalise his characters, following a period of research, so that he could ‘become’ them.”
  • uncertainty about feasibility of screen career; interest in other performance and art forms (in Ledger’s case, photography)
  • (p. 111): regarding Brokeback Mountain (2005): “Ledger saw his character’s laconic nature as simply another chance to develop his craft and stretch his ability. ‘I actually thought it was a gift not to have worlds to play with,’ he said. ‘I wanted to make it physical, as that was all I was really left with … I think any form of expression had to be painful. I wanted him to be a clenched fist; therefore my mouth became clenched too. A lot of this was lack of posture, but with the lack of posture in his mouth; in the words, it escapes his mouth.'”
  • (p. 111): “Ennis was an internalised chracter and, in figuring out how to bring him to life on screen, Heath found himself absorbing much of Ennis’s rage and conflict within himself. … he would sometimes find it hard to drop aspects of his character after filming. ‘You’re affected by whatever you’re portraying,’ he acknowledged. … ‘The mood of a film always takes me over.'”
  • (p. 114): “One thing Ledger managed to avoid was a series of preparation sessions in the gym. ‘Ang [Lee] really wanted me to build up,’ the actor admitted. ‘He wanted me to get bigger and stronger. I was trying to convince him that masculinity comes from maturity. I thought that Ennis was a poor dirt ranch-hand. He doesn’t go to the gym and he certainly doesn’t eat big meals. In fact, when you get older, you get thinner. I thought he would look more desolate and lonely that someone [who] would be in a Calvin Klein commercial.'”
  • (p. 115): “The drama of the fobidden relationship got Ledger’s creative juices flowing.”
  • (p. 122): “…he was increasingly of the opinion that acting was actually a rather silly profession…”

One thing that the Robb biography of Ledger stresses is Ledger’s lack of formal training in acting; Robb contends that Ledger made up his acting method as he went, and implies that therein lay his downfall — that he did not learn any techniques for putting borders around the characterizations he developed to prevent them from decisively influencing his real life personality, and that dark roles like The Joker were thus potentially particularly dangerous for him. Makes me happy that Mr. Armitage got formal training and hopefully some coaching on using a method but protecting himself at the same time.

~ by Servetus on March 20, 2011.

5 Responses to “fanstRAvaganza two, Day 7!”

  1. Thanks for sharing that. One of the tragic things about Heath Ledger was potential lost. He was slowly growing with and grooming his craft, but we knew saw at the height he could have reached. He could have become one of the greats.

    RA said when playing JP, he became too immersed in the character, not wanting to Skype with family and friends, sort of closing himself off from the outside world. He had a hard time shaking the role once the project ended. Hopefully he’s learned to redefine boundaries and protect himself better in future roles.


  2. I believe there is a tendency to belitle an actor’s immersion into a role, this can lead to other actors ‘teasing’ which happened on the Robin Hood set ie Richards method acting as Guy. Also on Spooks, a comment made about wishing to stay within a role rather than just ‘popping out’ to stay ‘hello’ whilst filming on the London streets.
    I believe a lots of RA’s sucess comes from his ability to research his character and his attention to detail. I’m not sure how he will cope with the same role for the next 2 years!


  3. […] To recap, at this blog, you will find: a poll (which Porter trousers?); fitzg’s opinions on Mr. Armitage’s work; an attempt to write a restraining order to prevent undue violence to John Porter in Strike Back, series 2; an interview with Angie about her development as a fanfic writer; a poll on which eyes you’d like John Porter to wear to your first encounter with him; an interview that reveals khandy’s journey as a writer of fanfic and now, original fiction; resonances between excerpts from a biography of the late Heath Ledger and the career of Mr. Armitage. […]


  4. Wait wait wait … what? RA has Skype? :O Now wouldn’t that be pretty a pretty amazing sight? “Richard has logged in” 😀

    Okay, thoughts back on track …

    Very interesting post, and comparison with HL. Like you, I’m happy RA has had formal training!

    With Libya … Why is it that as soon as a country has oil, everyone comes running to “help”? They haven’t given a stuff about other African countries where much, much worse things are going on every day! With the economy already in tatters in the UK, to start yet ANOTHER war … I just don’t see the logic. So many people are going to get killed, who haven’t been already. And for what? Oil. 😦


  5. […] ten years ago, Armitage was reading a Heath Ledger biography. Here’s a re-evaluation of Ledger’s […]


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