You make me believe that a man can be gentle

This isn’t the initial piece of the whole story, which I’ve been trying in vain to write about for a long time, now, or even what happened next, which I have in a better draft form now, but it’s more of a status report on the last few months with attribution of causality.

Phase two or something. One explanation for Happy Armitagemania?

In my ongoing saga of wondering what the point of Armitagemania is, something finally occurred to me today (after over a year-and-a-half, geez).

A sweet moment, whether with sister or, apparently, girlfriend: Harry Kennedy (Richard Armitage) and his sister Rosie (Keely Hawes) burst through some underbrush in Vicar of Dibley: The Handsome Stranger. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

I was sitting at lunch, thinking about the current intensity and foci of my preoccupation with Mr. Armitage, the fantasies that are occupying my energy these days, and I was musing that I find that they’re increasingly sweet and they’ve been becoming more and more tender over the last two months. There are two pieces of this. The first relates to watching Richard Armitage.

Why does he make me feel tender? Obviously, because of his performance of tenderness. That’s how acting works — to move the soul and the heart. But of course I can’t leave it at that, I have to look for the pieces of the puzzle, what details make him seem tender to me.

As a partial answer to that question, something I find myself preoccupied with at the moment is the gentleness of Richard Armitage’s hands.

Gentleness, when John Standring cleans Carol’s burns:

The gentleness with which Phillip Durrant begins to open his tie:

The gentleness with which Mr. Thornton takes his teacup back from Margaret, and the way his right index finger moves:

The gentleness with which John Porter strokes Katie Dartmouth’s hair back from her forehead, and the way that, once he’s holding her head, his thumbs flex to continue the motion:

And the gentleness with which he checks the bandage on her amputation wound:

I think this last is particularly important to me because watching that scene calls my gender politics heavily into question. But focusing on his gentleness provides me an explanation that illuminates what I’ve been feeling lately.

It’s not even that the gentleness is always “used for good.” I could find plenty of instances of his use of his hands to caress, and of course, that’s entrancing, but just as compelling are his uses of his gentle hands for things that are not gentle.

For instance, there’s the gentleness with which Phillip Durrant grasps his wife’s hands — as if he were playing the fingerboard on a cello — even in expressing his suspicion that she’s a murderer — and the care with which he unfolds her fingers as he is about to kiss them:

And of course, one of Lucas North / John Bateman’s gentlest moments comes when he holds Denise Ortiz while she’s dying:

This sort of move heightens the tension of scenes in which it happens, and makes a character who’s evil seem even more evil.

***

I don’t know exactly why this moves me so much; it’s not like I’ve spent any significant time at all with brutal men (though I know there are plenty around). I think it’s more that the men I’ve known don’t use their hands with any care. They use their hands to accomplish things. Richard Armitage uses his hands that way, too, of course, although he’s always touching instruments, machines, guns, with the gentlest precision.

There’s the way that Peter Macduff serves the patrons at his restaurant, efficiently but gently locating the plate on the table:

Or the way that John Porter alias John Dean examines the blood diamonds he’s buying in order to get himself arrested and into Chikurubi Prison:

Or the careful way that Sir Guy of Gisborne moves his fingers first to, and then away from, his dagger:

I think what makes the difference for me is the capacity that Armitage has to use his hands to experience emotions, to feel in the emotional and in the physical sense simultaneously, and the fact that careful but confident, strong but gentle, is the primary mode with which he does that. A colossal example of the way in which he performs with his hands both practically and emotionally at the same time can be found in the scene from Strike Back 1.1 in which John Porter defuses As’ad, the young would-be suicide bomber:

This scene is all Armitage’s eyes and his hands — what we see in his eyes is reflected in his hands — both his capacity to act calmly and measuredly in taking the necessary steps to snip the wire, and in the way that his thumb pulls back gently once the danger is gone.

It’s a sort of synesthaesia in which ethics or personality looks like a particular sort of bodily gesture — so that emotion and perception are fused when we see it. Witness the scene from The Impressionists, in which Claude Monet expresses his excitement over his new ideas about painting by not only seeing, but actually feeling, the new colors:

Many of us have noted before that Richard Armitage acts with his hands. About a year ago, now, I detailed a very poignant example from Spooks 9.2, when Lucas / John is trying to find Maya by googling — a moment that may be unsurpassed in Armitage’s oeuvre thus far. I think what’s happening is that I’m starting to believe, when I watch Richard Armitage, that the acting gently with the hands as a way to be gentle is a real capacity that men might have. The convincing nature of many of these “everyman” roles has me extrapolating in the back of my mind from him to men in general.

Watching you, Mr. Armitage makes my heart so full, right now.

You make me joyful.

You make me hopeful.

You make me believe.

~ by Servetus on September 22, 2011.

98 Responses to “You make me believe that a man can be gentle”

  1. The strongest and best of men are those who can be gentle and tender when it is needed. My husband is not a great actor like our dear RA, but he does know how to use his hands to comfort and to soothe, to give you hope.

    Richard taps into his characters’ humanity–whether their actions are beneficent or sinister. Giving Katie comfort and hope in a horrible situation, Bateman’s gentle comforting of Danielle even as he ruthlessly allows her to die. Oh, yes, he is a master of acting with those hands; really, with every fibre of his being, it seems to me. I think he is just a little big magical . . . and he brings that magic into our lives. What a lovely gift.

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  2. He is such a detailed actor but … you are such a “detailed” watcher Servetus! Congratulations for your acumen.
    Richard must be a “gentle” person. I became even more convinced when I read something online said by one of his ex school mates. She said that she just couldn’t watch him as Harry Jasper Kennedy because Richard was just pretty much himself in those two episodes. Meaning extremely tender, thoughtful and romantic? I guess it may.

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    • I think that’s probably why I love Harry so much, because he does seem to be so like RA. There are a couple of scenes where it is definitely Richard laughing naturally at Dawn French’s comic dialogue and actions.

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    • Oh MG, I really agree with you! That’s what I think too. And if Harry is the most like RA in real life … considering how swoonworthy Harry is … it bodes well for RA, doesn’t it? *fans herself*

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      • In August 2008 Popwatch “Bits and Bobs” interviewed Richard and before the interview his fans were invited to suggest questions to ask him.

        The question that I submitted was “Which of your past characters do you feel you are the most like?”

        To which he replied
        “Probably Vicar of Dibley‘s Harry Kennedy is the most like myself.”

        I have always been thrilled that he chose to answer a question from me.

        And as any of us love the character of Harry Kennedy for his fun, gentle, and adorable ways in this part it gives us a little insight of what Richard is like in real life.

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    • On this I’ll just note that Harry Kennedy is one of his roles in which the hands are employed the *least*. Harry’s hands are usually in his pockets, crossed genteely in front of him, or employed very prosaically. There’s only one scene where they play a notable role (when Harry is telling Geraldine to do what she wants for her wedding).

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      • Yes, I agree, he does spend a lot of time in the Vicar of Dibley with his hands stuffed firmly in his pocket, which drives me crazy, I have to say, but there are also at least three other occasions where, for me at least, his hands are very gentle.

        1) On their first date, when they are saying goodnight at the door and Harry gently lifts Geraldine’s hand and kisses it.
        2) In the proposal scene – after Geraldine has just returned to Harry after running around the neighbourhood screaming … 🙂 – when they are having their first proper kiss, Harry gently holds her.
        3) The night before the wedding when Harry gives the speech of “And whenever you look up, there shall I be” he stands and very gently touches her face ….. *THUD*

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        • I disagree about 2 — I don’t think there’s anything distinguished about the use of his hands there — but I agree with you on 1, good point. I have to think a bit about 3.

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  3. Dear Serv,

    I love how you engage us into “glimpsing” the deeper artistry that is Mr. Armitage’s gift as an actor and storyteller. His “authenticity” as an actor for me stems from him committing his whole being to portraying his characters and their lives and emotions–especially in what we might assume are their unguarded, and unobserved moments.

    In your previous blog when you also referenced Mr. Armitage’s use of his hands in acting–and that I viewed just now–Lucas North is alone with his memories in seeing Maya’s picture and then looking her up in the database. Yet, Mr. Armitage as Lucas reacts so viscerally to Lucas’ memories it evokes a similar response in us as the audience. Why? Because, we have experienced those emotions of loss and regret, and of wonder and hope. And by seeing Mr. Armitage’s character live those emotions, we relive them from our own lives. Mr. Armitage connects us with our emotions because he connects with his characters emotions.

    And Mr. Armitage’s hands are so beautifully expressive as you illustrated in your essay. And hands are often the first to touch between two people in friendship or in love. Hands joined together signify a bond and hands touching strengthens that bond. Our favorite thing for my hubby and I to do when we’re out in public holding hands is to move one of our fingers to stroke the other’s inside palm. No one else can see what we are doing, only we know. But, it gives us a little thrill nonetheless–a shared secret. So, it is with Mr. Armitage and his gentle hands. Mr. Armitage’s hands stroke our hearts with their subtle expressiveness. Mr. Armitage gives us a thrill as he shares the secret of the character’s emotions that he reveals to us–one gaze, one small smile, one gesture of his hands at a time.

    Cheers! Grati ;->

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    • I think that some of it is that acting reminds us of things we have felt ourselves, but I think there’s more to it than that. It’s the transformative aspects of watching acting that I’m interested in here, not so much its cathartic pieces (although it has those, too, of course).

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  4. Hello Servetus:)
    I have been lurking around for some time, but after this post I must say something. If you don´t mind of course. (Sorry for the mistakes, English is not my native language).
    Big, strong man are usual very gentle, because they are aware of they strenght. I have a cousin, ex basketball player. Very tall, strong, with really big hands, you can imagine. Hi has learned to control his body very early, he was 12 years old when he started to grow. I think that he has never hit enybody in his life, and we all now how boys are silly at certan age. And he is an exelent dancer.
    The control that this man Armitage has over his entire body is something that always leaves me in complete awe. There is something of a reneisance man in him. Fit body, fast mind and insane sense of humor, and open soul.
    I have no other choise but to like him.

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  5. The gentleness of his hands surely holds a huge appeal for me, perhaps more so than his popular “brooding”. But when talking about gentleness don’t forget the expression of his eyes, gentle, sensitive and vulnerable. To that degree it is rarely seen in men respectively male actors and one of my favourite theories is that to express that, an actor has to have it inside himself and there are many with whom I find it hard to imagine that they have. I believe he is a gentle person as himself, though the schoolmate may have referred to other traits he shares with Harry, like being friendly and fun-loving. But I remember one of his Spooks co-stars describing him as gentle.

    I also like to mention two more scenes that shouldn’t be omitted from such a list, of course the train station scene in N&S and as an example of tenderness that is actually a veiled threat the scene where he takes the necklace from the peasant girl. I always found that scene chilling and highly erotic at the same time. If it hadn’t been a kids show, he would have taken something else from the girl.

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    • Yeah, I didn’t mean to say the eyes are not important, just that I am preoccupied with the hands.

      I wanted to include that scene from RH in this list but by the time it occurred to me it was midnight — and it takes about 2.5 hours to cut a scene from an RH episode if I haven’t already done all the file conversions

      Expect an email from me soon, btw.

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      • LOL, usually I’m not a “hand person” at all and never really got the swooning about the beauty of RA’s hands but I certainly see the appeal of their gentleness, so thanks for bringing it t my attention.

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  6. Thankyou servetus for giving me food for thought. It has always been RA’s gentleness which has drawn me in, in spite of the violence and anger associated with so many of his characters. I think I recall him saying that letting go and playing out that violence and anger is relatively easy, given that we need to repress it in civilised society. To me his gentleness is innate, he is such an instinctive performer. If I had to name favourite “gentle” scenes, they would be the N&S train station scene; those beautiful hands framing Margaret’s face, and the expression in his eyes make me well up every time -and the scenes above with JP and Katie in SB. Such a contrast to the horror of their circumstances.
    He is the ultimate character actor.

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    • How Guy behaves with the wounded Meg is another example. And he would have been able to be incredibly gentle with Marian if she had let him. I believe it is this added dimension that makes his characters so appealing. Not just hot (in the meaning of being attractive to look at as well as oozing sex, as Guy no doubt does) and masculine and aggressive but having a soft core.

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      • You’re so right, that was such a tender scene. I fall in love with Guy a little more each time I see his gentleness with Meg. And those hands again…*sigh* Given enough time, we could probably come up with hundreds of examples of RA gentleness from the obvious to the oh-so-subtly nuanced. What a tough job that would be 😉

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        • As a postscript to my comment here, I’ve just realised, slow that I am, that Guy does not wear gloves at all in S3 RH, even for riding. Those gloves were a fixture in the first two series. A wardrobe decision? Or in light of your analysis servetus, a way of peeling off the layers of Guy’s complex character by now showing his hands. Do directors really think this way? You’ve certainly got me thinking! 🙂

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          • that’s my goal, get you thinking. I left Guy mostly out of this post on purpose because I feel like the gloves complicate things.

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            • Servetus, I was watching RH2 (again!) up to ep6 tonight and noticed that the only time Guy has his gloves on is when he’s either changing clothes/armour, or alone with Marian – when he tries to help her escape from Winchester, and her father dies, occasions when his more gentle side is shown. Talk about watching the show with a new perspective! 😀

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    • One reason I didn’t put the N&S train scene on this list is that it’s an obvious place for gentleness — when kissing. I was looking for scenes where the effect of the hands is not necessarily so front and center.

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  7. Gorgeous piece of writing. Really.

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  8. Deeply moving post, servetus. A gentle-man indeed. Although he is analytical in the sense of plotting a character biography, I find him to be a highly intuitive actor – more so than almost any I’ve ever encountered. Of course, we oughtn’t extrapolate from his characters qualities of the man behind the actor. BUT the evidence appears convincing, just from observation, and from what does seem those instinctive, intuitive motion – well, it’s not difficult to fall in love every time we watch, re-watch any of his work.

    With thanks for the analysis, while you remain bedazzled and bewtitched, servetus. Remain bewitched and continue to attempt to explain the magic, please! 😀

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    • yes, I think this is important, fitzg. E.g., if he is most like Harry of the characters he’s played (which means, if we take him at his words, not that he is like Harry necessarily, but that of the character’s he’s played, Harry is the closest to him), we have to note that Harry doesn’t use his hands very much at all. And Armitage uses his hands quite differently in interviews than he does in his roles.

      thanks for the kind words.

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      • But it seems as himself he shares the habit to put his hands into his pockets with Harry. Would be interesting to see if he uses his hands as much in a normal conversation as he does in an interview when he tries to get his point across.

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        • Yes. I wonder if he’s had a lot of comment on how to hold his hands because it’s so strikingly different. Is he a natural hand talker, or is this just a result of trying to be emphatic?

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  9. What a wonderful analysis, dear Servetus! The “New Colours” clip is the sweetest. I want to hug him and share his joy. And I adore Peter Macduff. I imagine the young Lucas looking like him, Lucas pre-Russia, a grown-up man in grown-up clothes, earnest and focused, but still with the enthusiasm of youth. Richard’s talent of course has also another side – when his characters are bad, they are abysmally so, and that’s why I am not able to watch Spooks 9 again.

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    • Hay Nietzsche:)
      I have a friend, specialised in psyhopatology, big fan of Spooks. He sad that Lucas/John plot simply makes no sense because the pattern of his behaviour was wrong, and that was why it was so difficult to watch, on the subconscious level. They have pushed it too far in a completely wrong way.

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  10. This was a moving post. It brings to mind what I initially said about crushes: that they embody what we look for in a partner. I certain would want a man who had the grace and gentleness of those hands.

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    • If you assume that what I am looking for in a partner is gentleness. Richard Armitage is atypical of my crushes in almost every way. I’ll have more to say about this after a quiz, two classes, a monograph, and my new weekly Thursday night beer date with my fellow untenured faculty.

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      • Maybe I should have been more specific and said “what I look for” in a partner, although I can’t imagine you wouldn’t want some gentleness in a partner. Can’t wait to hear your further comments. Your social life is really picking up steam. 😀

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  11. Those hands, caressing the cello…

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  12. Your obsevation is very astute. Richard seems to use every part of his body in an expressive way in each role he plays. His hands, however are very significant in that they are often shown close up and we get to see real emotion in just the movement of a finger or wrist. Richard’s ‘method’ of acting is so subtle as to make one think ‘He really beleives he’s this character’. Thanks for bringing this poignant aspect of the possibility of gentleness in the use of a man’s hand to my attention.
    Jeannie

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    • Your statement, Jeannie, “He really believes he’s this character”, is one I’m totally in agreement with and one of the reasons I believe – as he admitted himself – that he found it so hard to get out of the character of John Porter, even dreaming in character, and had a hard time keeping in touch with family and friends back home while they were on location.

      Thank you for this post, Servetus! Insightful and extremely moving. I’m constantly mesmerized by his hands and find myself drawn to them almost as much as to his eyes. As has been said so many times before, he is magical.

      And fitzg – same thought here regarding the cello! *sigh*

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  13. I LOVE the hands. Thanks for this post. The other thing to note is that even in this mini clips out of context the performance still shines through. Amazing.

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    • yeah, it’s interesting to watch simply the play of characters without thinking about the hands — it’s a nice series of vignettes of all the different men he’s been in these roles.

      I know there are people who have been frustrated about his ongoing occupation in tv, but one thing is that it’s given him a lot of flexibility to strikingly different things. I hope he doesn’t lose that after The Hobbit.

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  14. Hello Servetus!
    I have been lurking around for some time too. 🙂 Thank you I really love this post. And I will go back lurking immediately right after posting another video where Mr. Armitage is touching Shelley Conn’s arm very gently.

    http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/98545000/Getty-Images-Entertainment-Video

    Viktoria

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    • Ohhhh, yes, I noticed that when it was first shown. Isn’t this hot? For a moment I hoped they were becoming closer…naughty me. 🙂

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      • I missed that first time around! Too busy looking at his face 😉 Thankyou Viktoria, it’s been replayed several times! I adore these snippets of what I think of as “real RA”.

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    • Oh, I hadnt’ noticed that. Thanks for sharing!

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    • Thanks for sharing that link to the SB1 premiere, Viktoria. I hadn’t seen that before.
      When Shelley Conn leans in to whisper something to Mr. Armitage, she looks very sweetly at him and he at her–as if they are sweethearts.
      And then again, Mr. Armitage’s hand rests very proprietarily and comfortably wrapped around Ms. Conn’s waist–as in an earlier picture I’ve seen of them together.
      Though we could speculate all day, I think they make a cute couple, don’t you?
      Cheers! Gratiana ;->

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    • Viktoria, thanks for the comment and welcome. You can see you’ve sparked a lot of discussion! Maybe you’ll rethink your decision to return to lurking. To everyone else I say, wow, I thought I was the only one who noticed that 🙂

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  15. Sorry to be an impudent-spoiling-everithing-kind-of-intruder, but don’t you see a simple thing that happens: any such a comment to such a thread imprisons the actor (who seems to be really great) in a chain of repetitive modes of behavior. For instance: when RA pools his glove off with his teeth in RH (female part of) people seem to be very much pleased; producers (or their assistants, truth to be known) of MI5 seem to know (what a surprise?! we all learnt to lurk being unnoticed ))))) that this is a very profitable kind of gesture; so they make him do the same in Spooks s8ep5 – and all ‘ladies’ are even more pleased then. What a prison it must be for an actor, especially for such a talented one as RA is. Torturing with water in Spooks, the same in Strike Back. Should I remind you some other attractive stereotype visions repeatedly represented in movies we all like. What actually I’m trying to say here is that we – devoted and gushing fangirls/women – evidently put the actor in a situation he cannot escape being not an A-star in Hollywood (I should add here that not all A-Hollywood stars can afford so). This is a cultural industry function – to push a saleable thing (image) to the market, to multiply it in minds. I wish we all remain silent, since I like RA’s work so much. I should again apologies to all the RA admirers for a blunt intrusion. I hope I’ve not ruined the whole analytical discussion of his beautiful hands which is BTW so fruitful that being put in a proper language must be published in October magazine))) Servetus, I really like what you are doing! Thank you so much, since I’m a newly convert and have no other place to get a relief. Sincerely yours

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    • Hi, alex. On the pulling-the-glove-off-with-his-teeth move, I would have agreed with you some time ago that it was calculated to send the AA into a tizzy. Then I watched “Golden Hour” and I think sticking things in his mouth is just one of his things. It was actually disconcerting to watch a doctor do that because all I could think was,”Ew, he’s desterilizing that!” Welcome to the fun, though, and I guarantee you haven’t derailed anyone.

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      • Nice observation, jazz. It’s the sort of thing a DIY guy might do. And now that he has those fantastic teeth, he never has to worry that something might fall out 🙂

        I also think sometimes that he’s playing with us. I felt that way about the ways that Robin Hood cited North & South.

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        • I’m a reference junkie so stuff like that just makes me snicker. Like my kids were watching Eloise this morning and a character is a beatnik who works at Cafe Huh? on Bleeker Street in Greenwhich Village, which is a nod to Cafe Whaa?.

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          • I also think it’s the sign of a key mind. I try to build stuff like that into my academic writing — very discreetly, of course. Sometimes it doesn’t make it past the referees but when it does it’s always gratifying.

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    • I don’t think it is gentleness of his hands in various situations that puts him into danger of being typecast, not is it the glove thing that IMO was just a joke or the water torture that is a coincidence we wouldn’t notice if he hadn’t talked about his fear of water. If he is in danger of being typecast it is for other things like being brooding and angry and miserable. In fact I think those that criticise him for being too similar in his various roles don’t notice subtle gesture like those discussed here. Besides, everyone has his gesture, it is in the nature of the beast that not even the repertoire of the most versatile actor is unlimited.

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    • Hi Alex,

      I think you’re reading a bit too much into those gestures. Could it be that using his teeth is not an uncommon gesture for RA and that he himself employs it as a bit of drama? Actors do have repetoires of stock gestures, facial expressions and actions they may use from role to role (i.e. RA’s hand over mouth when conflicted).

      Waterboarding is a very hot topic today and it’s not unusual for spies and soldiers to be tortured in this way. I seriously don’t think producers of one series are scouring other series RA’s been in order to cherry pick certain scenes and gestures.

      And I see Fitz has already beaten me to the rebuttal. 😀

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      • Armitage has a fair number of these, actually. I like all of them, but I suppose one might note that this could be a criticism of his acting.

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    • First of all, welcome to the blog and thanks for the thoughtful comment, Alex. You never have to agree here to fit in. 🙂

      I’m kind of a both / and girl, and that’s my response to your remark. I do think people know what sells and that casting decisions occur on that basis. I assume he got Spooks partially because of the audience response to him in Robin Hood. But I also think that other things influence how he gets cast, not least how he reads for parts. I know that there are many fans (whether they’ll admit it or not) who are frustrated that he stuck with tv for so long or is sticking with it, but I think the reasons that happened are more complex than just the fact of his large group of enthusiastic fans liking him in certain kinds of tv roles — and the tv roles he did in the last three years were very different from those he did in the immediate wake of North & South. In essence, one could also conclude that he could get movie roles based on some of the audiences he attracts, but that seems not to have been the case. He said in a recent interview that Peter Jackson wasn’t familiar with much of his previous work and that he seems to have been cast mostly based on his audition.

      My theory about Strike Back (and it’s only a theory) is that this is not a project he’d have taken on under normal circumstances — he remarked a few times in those interviews how thin on the ground roles were in that particular year, and I’ve concluded that he took it because he wanted to stay in work. (We could argue about whether that’s a good career strategy for someone who wants to break into film, of course.) Probably he was attractive to the producers of SB because of Spooks, and he remarked in the leadup to Spooks 9 that he was sure he’d be asked to do action again (which made me think that he’s potentially turned down some other action roles in the interval). But he obviously pressures himself to take roles / work as well.

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      • Hi Serv and others,

        Good points about Spooks. I also see a thread of interwoven prior and continuing artistic partnerships between Richard Armitage and his acting/filmmaking colleagues. It’s not “nepotism” in my mind but rather colleagues recognizing a proven talent and then choosing to work with that talent again–which is a tribute to Mr. Armitage as both perhaps him benefiting from these connections as well as him perhaps helping someone else land a role. Here are the prior connections I’ve noticed–in no particular order:

        1) Chris Ryan was the writer for Ultimate Force in which RA played Ian Macalwain. Then 7 years later, RA is cast in Chris Ryan’s Strike Back Series 1 in 2010.
        2) Brian Protheroe played Mr. Bell in N&S–in which RA starred as John Thornton–and then Protheroe played the CIA guy Walker whom Sarah tossed over the balcony in Spooks 8.
        3) Alun Armstrong was the incest dad in Sparkhouse in 2002 while RA played John Standring. Then Armstrong was also one of the major leads in 2003’s Between the Sheets–in which RA’s character of Paul Andrews had one of the rotating storylines.
        4) David Harewood portrayed Brother Tuck in Robin Hood Series 3 in 2009–to RA’s Sir Guy of Gisborne. Then in 2010, Harewood was cast as the power hungry general in Strike Back Series 1, Episodes 3 & 4 in which RA played John Porter.
        5) Hermione Norris was one of the leads in Cold Feet–which RA joined for its fifth season playing Lee Richards. Then in 2008, RA joined Spooks Series 7 as Lucas North, to Herminone’s Ros character.
        6) I believe that someone else had noticed a prior colleague connection between Shaun Parkes in SB1 episodes 3 & 4 and RA. But I can’t remember it at the moment.
        7) Toby Stephens played the self aggrandizing Prince John in Robin Hood Series 3 to RA’s Sir Guy of Gisborne. Then Toby also turned up in Strike Back 1 episodes 5 & 6 where RA was playing John Porter.
        8) And now Lara Pulver who played Sir Guy’s sister Isabella on Robin Hood Series 3 is now she is the new head of Section D on Spooks 10–replacing RA’s character of Lucas North as section head.

        I’m sure there are other examples of RA working again with his colleagues and they with him. I think that is just the nature of the business that you will work again with individuals. It reminds of the Mickey Rooney’s old Andy Hardy movies “Hey kids, let’s put on a show.” Though a global enterprise, the entertainment world is a “small” business–where everyone knows each other.

        And now that Mr. Armitage has joined the wider sphere of international filmmaking with Captain America, and his lead role as Thorin Oakenshield in The Hobbit films, there is no limit to the artistic opportunities that will come his way. He is such a chameleon in his portrayals–despite some “referencing” as others have mentioned–I truly believe that Mr. Armitage will soon be esteemed as one of the finest actors of his generation.

        Cheers! Grati ;->

        P.S. Oh dear! And I was going to try to be brief in commenting this time. Sorry about that.

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      • I still don’t believe that the enthusiastic fans are a market force at all. They are probably more than the few hundred people that regularly post/lurk on the various websites dedicated to him but I think the majority of women for whom RA being in it is a reason to watch a show are of a more casual kind and don’t obsess about him and probably haven’t replayed the glove scene in RH countless times or even remember it. There are lots of actors I like and if they are in a new show I probably watch but I don’t follow their career closely or read every interview or try to find out about new projects in advance. And I think many of RA’s more casual fans are of that kind and they are the market force, not the hard core army.

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        • Actives: I think it’s more than a few hundred now. My impression, admittedly based on very inexact stats and conversations with other people, is that the active fans (people who are reading or writing every day) is now something approaching a thousand. They stand in for the many people who are not that devoted but still very interested. Even in the Guy of Gisborne days the costume designer was referring to “fans who came with Richard Armitage.” I agree that the casual fans are the more important segment of any “market force” but I think there are many more of them than we might think — just because we tend to encounter the same people over and over again.

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      • Servetus, RA has said that the SB project didn’t appeal to him much, but that he felt he could bring something to the character of John Porter. I daresay we have all had to do work we’d rather not because of circumstances ( in RA’s instance perhaps acting jobs being thin on the ground). I think it says a lot about his work ethic that he applied himself to such a project with such thought and commitment. What a hero he has given us in John Porter.

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  16. Alex, I understand the point you are making. However, RA’s roles in Captain America and The Hobbit, show that he is far from being typecast. His talent as a character actor will always shine through.

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    • The Hobbit was a real breakout. I think that’s part of why the Tolkien fans had such a hard time accommodating themselves to him.

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  17. Hi Servetus:

    Just when I though I could let this mania cool down a bit during the PR drought of Mr. A, you have managed to rekindle it. Not that I am complaining, it’s just how amzing your analysis always reveals something we instinctively feel but couldn’t articulate as well as you do. Keep up the good work!

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    • I apologize, helen. I’ve given up trying to give it up. I could be accused, I suppose, of trying to provide a place ot keep the feeling alive during the “drought”. 🙂

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  18. I wonder how having to wear prosthetics on his hands in the Hobbit will affect this?

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  19. @alex, those comments are really interesting. If I’ve interpreted the intent correctly, (but perhaps placing too emphasis on it), that the producers/directors have a high level of responsibility for the repetition of “audience- pleasing” gestures. Perhaps there is an expanded view: how much is the actor him/herself equally responsible? When we see in the various performances, repetitions of other gestures – (the hand to face comes to mind) it suggests that the actor has instinctly adopted a range of gestures and expressions, which please him, and which please the audience. With a lesser actor, this could become stale, caricaturish and dead boring, and the actor MUST please the audience, as well as him/herself. It works well for an accomplished actor such as Mr. Armitage.

    Mind you, I found that Gisborne glove ripped off by the teeth hilarious in Spooks 8! As was, Mr. A turning up there head to toe in leather after saying in interview that the Spooks producers had banned him from wearing leather! They like their inside jokes, too. Absolutely agree with you that the element of “if it worked once, do it again” , but just putting some responsibility onto the actor too. 😀

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    • nicely put. I definitely think that Mr. Armitage is sometimes playing with us. Such tricks / jokes are common in theatre work.

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  20. Hi there! Good night or morning? In Moscow it’s too late (or too early)
    Nevertheless. Everyone of you is right in your comments. But I should clarify some of my propositions. First of all I must say that as a very matter-of-fact kind of person I am determined to leave behind all my feelings (regarding RA’s nose or hands or voice or integral image or his acting talent, etc, although all abovementioned is unbearably bothering me for last months).
    What I was actually heading to is to point out that an unavoidable physicality of an actor can be a blessing or a universal punishment for him/her. This is a trap, evidently.
    Therefore I should say commenting the comments:
    #fitzg I do understand self-quoting ) but I as well can distinguish it from a plain exploitation of someone’s physical advantageous morphing. An artist here is absolutely not responsible since he/she is totally dependant of a director/producer.
    #Gelis I wonder if for RA taking a Thorin Oakenshield part in Hobbit was perhaps not just a simple luck-catching movement (to get himself into a Hollywood list of honor); or a fulfillment of a childish dreams (to embody a character he’s loved as a child); or a mean to cover any of possible financial interest (we all human, but, I reckon, this is an invalid kind of target in the particular case), but as a task perceived professionally: to get rid of his ‘attractiveness’, a coincidental paradox he’s never expected to be a hostage of.
    I hope to see him getting a part of some REALLY great movie.
    Anyhow. Anyway. Insofar.
    To end up my long and rather senseless expression I would wish to give you an analogue of my thoughts of RA in three consequent links. This music in my mind has absolutely stuck with the man



    All the best to you all

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    • I think a lot of people have speculated on whether this is the role for him where he “gets to be ugly,” his Elephant Man role.

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      • Hasn’t he already done ugly in some of his earlier work anyway? Or is it that he needs to do it again for his recent fans?
        Fascinating post, although it’s his eyes that I always find so beautifully kind and gentle when he is playing ‘in love’ with someone. I was thinking of several other actors who do kind gentle eyes so well, although none so appealing as Mr Armitage of course lol. Patrick Dempsey, Zac Efron and Joshua Jackson spring to mind.

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        • I think he’s uncomfortable with the adulation that goes along with being a sex symbol. Doing an “ugly” role is a way to get around that. I do think that beautiful people (of whom I am not one) often wonder whether they are loved for themselves and their talents or rather for their beauty.

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      • He may have hoped it, but it wasn’t to be.

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  21. Thank you Servetus for this amazing post and thank you Alex for beautiful music. I think that RA dreams comes true.Next will be “Richard III:!!HURRAY
    Then dear Richard must plant a tree,built a home and create new life(I can help with that:))

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    • Definitely up for planting a tree with him 🙂 or pruning all of the ones in my parents’ backyard. A tall guy can come in really handy for a job like that.

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  22. Alex, thank you the Respighi videos – lovely music! I hope you don’t return to just lurking; it is good and thought-provoking to have various perspectives to reflect on and discuss.

    I’m sure Mr. Armitage plays with the audience sometimes, servetus. There have been a few instances in interviews in which there is a distinctly mischievous look in his expression: “Come up and see my – tattoos”!
    🙂

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    • Hi fitzg,

      I loved RA’s playfulness in that Lorraine show interview on September 17 2010 when he was being interviewed for the start of Spooks 9. Here is that link and the bit about tattos starts at 1:31 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nn9TUhQ4BxU&feature=related)

      The host asked RA if his Spooks tattos were real. To which RA replied seductively “Come and find out.” He laughs at himself and says “That’s my chat up line.” Then he laughs some more.

      When this little interview exchanged was mentioned in another forum, some thought that RA seemed a bit “forced” in trying to be humorous. I just found him endearing–especially that he seems to have a lighthearted way about him and doesn’t take himself seriously. Except, RA is very dedicated to and articulate about his art, which I find very pleasing.

      I know everyone, I’m an avid RA fan if I can quote not only his famous roles dialogue bits, but some of his interview comments as well. I blame it on two things, well three really: 1) We have a drought of no new RA live interviews, so fans are “forced” to mine the old stuff over and over again which cements it in our minds, 2) RANet (www.richardartmiagenet.com) is a wonderful resource of news and media about RA that keeps us all up to date, and 3) once a graduate student, always a graduate student and we cite our sources meticulously (sorry that it’s not in APA,ha).

      Cheers! Grati ;->

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  23. […] putting it down here, although it also could be understood to have political connotations. And yes, certain aspects of Armitagemania seem like a solution to this issue, like I might be healing. So that's why it's here. Comments closed because I don't really want to debate sexual harassment, […]

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  24. […] I’ve said before that I think Armitagemania is affecting my fantasies, and the last few days I’ve just been trapped in the thought of lying in Porter’s arms, […]

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  25. […] of this way of touching even inanimate things in gentle ways that he seems to show sometimes and gets me all emotional because he makes me believe in things I don’t actually credit so easily, and the very fact that he’s rolling this impossibly small cufflink — so small that […]

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  26. This is one thing I find extremely endearing about him too. It’s how strong he can appear but at the same time how vulnerable he can be. It reminds me of this quote http://29.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_m0w4t1uyoN1qhwkl4o1_1280.jpg, I think this is the paradox between his appearance of a male adult and the fact that he was just a kid who gave him the humility to express as much gentleness.

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  27. […] confusing about the Paul Andrew character in Between the Sheets.) And as I’ve said before, his acting makes me believe men have qualities that I don’t often credit them with. It doesn’t help my inner struggle when we hear tweets about his kindness, either. And on a […]

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  28. […] Richard Armitage’s characters gave me a sort of new confidence about the possibility that men could be gentle. What looking over the last year of blogging seems to suggest is that maybe his work is also […]

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