Armitage anatomy: occipitofrontalis in action

Lucas North (Richard Armitage) in Spooks 8.7. Source:

Interestingly, the structure of frontalis allows us to move either the outer (lateral) edge of the muscle, or the inner (medial) edge. The muscle is also built to allow us to lift each eyebrow independently of the other.

Interestingly, we don’t see the joint move of the medial frontalis very distinctly in Armitage’s repertoire of forehead moves. He does it, but either his eyebrows are structured so as to make it less noticeable, or he doesn’t achieve quite the motion that he does with the lateral frontalis. I think this is a medial frontalis move, because it raises the center of his eyebrows slightly, but it’s not incredibly distinctive:

A relatively rare use of m. frontalis: Lucas North (Richard Armitage) pretends to be a Russian in Spooks 8.6. Source:

Armitage’s center of the forehead motion is always much more dependent on corrugator supercilii than on frontalis. This is a trait that we tend to associate with masculinity in the West, where frequently, highly, or centrally elevated eyebrows are considered more feminine-looking. (I learned this from reading a website that discussed how to score muscles ideally to make eyebrow placement more attractive in cosmetic surgeries to the forehead.) It’s interesting how his mouth becomes much narrower and more feminine as well during the m. frontalis motion. When I try to do this move with the medial frontalis myself, I notice that my oris oricularis (the ring of muscle around my mouth — to be covered in a later post) narrows my mouth as well.

Unilateral motion of the lateral frontalis on the left side of his face: Lucas North (Richard Armitage) ends his call to Arkady Kachimov in Spooks 7.2. Source:

It’s interesting to me that although emotion tends to move across Armitage’s face from left to right, flipping through screencaps suggests anecdotally that a unilateral move of the left lateral frontalis is a relatively rare expression for him. The unilateral move of the right lateral frontalis can be found much more easily and frequently in pictures of him.

Right lateral frontalis moves alone: Lucas North (Richard Armitage) explains that they’ve suppressed the footage of Harry’s murder in Spooks 8.1. Source:

But the best, most emotional move, I think, is the joint move of the lateral frontalis.

A beautiful bilateral move of lateral frontalis: Lucas North (Richard Armitage) tells Elizaveta (Paloma Baeza) that he can’t accept her as his FSB handler in Spooks 7.2. Source:

I want to write a whole post just about his forehead. Oops, I mean, another whole post about his forehead.

~ by Servetus on October 25, 2011.

24 Responses to “Armitage anatomy: occipitofrontalis in action”

  1. And what a forehead it is! When his eyebrows are darkened, as they were for Guy, those movements seem even more pronounced for me. Of course, with Guy it was mostly the right lateral frontalis we see in action, as you pointed out. Quite often linked with a smirk using the labial commisures . . . good grief, but the man makes the most of all those muscles, big and small, doesn’t he?
    Continuing to love our RAnatomy lessons. 😀


    • Glad you’re liking them. They’ll probably continue for awhile — it’s a lot easier to write this stuff than longer essays at the moment. Too much stuff going on at work.


  2. Armitage Anatomy. RAnatomy. Loving these names as much as the lessons! 🙂 When he moves his lateral frontalis bilaterally as he does in the last pic, I find myself wanting to reach out and smooth his brow…tenderly.


    • He looks so–distressed. One wants to make it all better. Lucas in S7 seemed so in need of some tender, loving care, that is for certain. *sigh*


      • *Sighing* right along with you, angie. I’m rewatching S7 for the umpteenth time, and Lucas is STILL wrenching my heart and tying my stomach into knots as much as ever.


        • From the moment he was hauled out of that trunk and the hood pulled off, gaunt, disheveled, in need of a good bath, stumbling forward , trying so hard to return to some sort of normalcy . . . Lucas had my heart. So different from the first character I fell for, Guy. Another amazingly crafted character from Mr. A. Yet another RA character whose demise would break my heart. *sob*


        • I know exactly what you mean Mezz and Angie. The Lucas of S7 still captures my heart – even pictures of him in that role. He was, as Hermione (Ros) said, “sublime”. Even though he looked in such poor shape (although when we actually got to see his “shape” he still looked pretty good to me! 😉 ) there was something about that first glimpse of him that made me gasp. Once again he “became” that character right before our eyes, and I, for one, was totally hooked!

          But to get back on topic; here, thanks to you Servetus, is yet another wonderful area of his facial anatomy to study. Honestly, I could stare at pictures of this man all day and now I can do so without feeling even a smidgen of guilt!! 🙂 His expressions can convey so much by just moving the same set of muscles in a different way. Quite amazing!


          • Richard is simply breathtaking as Lucas. “Sublime” only begins to describe his performance in my view.

            No, Teuchter, no guilt at all! Learning is good for us! RA is now not only beneficial to our emotional health, he stimulates our grey matter as well! 😉


            • Given the response to these posts I’m thinking I should approach his agent to do an anatomy book using illustrations from his roles. It would be a huge best seller and make college classes so much easier to bear, I’m certain!


  3. He might use his right lateral frontalis more because his is right handed. I am left handed and it takes a lot more concentration for me to move the right side compared with the left.


  4. Hi Serv,
    RA can lean his frontalis on mine any day of the week. His 4head is definitely a 10 in book.
    Cheers! Grati ;->


  5. YAY!!! This is AWESOME!!!


  6. […] sincerity gesture in Armitage’s gestural repertoire. Witness this really vivid combination of frontalis, corrugator supercilii and triangularis from Spooks […]


  7. […] wants is a weekend in a nice hotel with room service, in Casualty 16.17. My cap. Nice use of the frontalis in an expression I like to call “Richard Armitage’s pedagogical forehead […]


  8. […] […]


  9. […] here’s a followup on the pronounced motion of occipitofrontalis / epicranius, the most easily visible muscle in Armitage’s face, which is so pronounced here that we can […]


  10. […] forehead mobilization in terms of what Armitage would later be able to do with his forehead (see frontalis) and eyebrows (see corrugator supercilii), but it’s often Standring’s mouth and jaw […]


  11. […] From the files of Armitage anatomy: occipitofrontalis. […]


  12. […] wondered whether he'd been tweezing the point of his eyebrow that intersects with the lateral frontalis while playing Lucas. Can't answer that question without further comparison, […]


  13. […] as he uses that classic “face clearing” move of Armitage’s, the contraction of medial frontalis, which also re-establishes his status with the lift of his head and […]


  14. […] Craig Parker (Richard Armitage) being broken up with at the end of Casualty (2001). Source: […]


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