“Armigerous” Armitage: a career overview

[ETA: I just had to fix the stylistic and grammatical infelicities here. Hope I caught most of them. Apologies for posting this before it had been proofread.]

Remember it’s not real: Richard Armitage aims his imaginary gun in a behind the scenes photo from the filming of Strike Back 1. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

This post reflects a certain paradoxical quality in Richard Armitage’s work, as he has described himself as a pacifist, and also because he insisted that the posters of him up in the UK for Strike Back not include huge depictions of weapons, because the show was about more than that, but recently I got interested in the number of times he’s ended up in a production with any kind of weapon in his hand. It may be one of the more striking contradictions around him. Although it’s been widely reported that he trained for a formal qualification in stage combat, he also talked in the Strike Back interview cycle about the extent to which he started to experience pleasure in shooting, and the way in which he as Porter began to feel naked without it. Here’s a brief overview, out of dozens more images I could have chosen. It’s a bit quirky (you might also call it random) as it’s stuff that I liked for some reason or other, not necessarily the most iconic or striking material. And no, at this point I haven’t researched the makes of all of the different firearms, though I suppose I might do that eventually if I ever get really bored and run out of stuff to write about it.

Oh, and in case the title confuses you: “armigerous” just means “having the right to display a coat of arms.” Originally, coats of arms were placed on armor in order to identify combatants, and hence armigerous nobles were also “arms-bearing.” That’s the slightly extended metaphorical sense in which I’m using the term here: scenes in which Richard Armitage is bearing a weapon of some kind. Well, some of the connections are as strained as that metaphor … but I hope you’ll enjoy it anyway.

Early career, with short sword. You can tell this takes place early in his professional development because he doesn’t actually manage to get the sword out of the sheath. He would master that skill only later. Richard Armitage, as Epiphanes, in Cleopatra. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

Strictly speaking a protactor isn’t a weapon, but a lot of boys in my elementary school used it like one. Careful with that, Angus, or you could put an eye out! Angus, of course, might also be armigerous in the technical sense, as Scottish clans maintained coats of arms from a relatively early date. Richard Armitage, as Angus, in Macbeth (2001). Source: Richard Armitage Central Gallery

We’re seeing definite progress here in Armitage’s employment of weapons in his work. It’s actually Andrew who raises the shovel to hurt John, but John is fully strong enough to turn it to his own advantage. Richard Armitage as John Standring in episode 3 of Sparkhouse. My cap.

Now we’re getting somewhere: Richard Armitage finally gets a real gun when Ian Macalwain takes part in an assault on a group of religious extremists in Ultimate Force 2.5. Armitage stated at some point that the armorer he worked with in Ultimate Force also worked on Strike Back 1. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

What, you say, no weapon? Surely you’ve heard that the pen is mightier than the sword. Thanks, ladies and gentlemen, I’ll be here all week. Or potentially longer than that. Richard Armitage as John Thornton spends a late night on his worrisome bookkeeping in episode 4 of North & South. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

We don’t ever get to see him fire this one: a skeet shooting rifle. After lying about his connection to the victim of a murder, Philip Turner (Richard Armitage) surrenders the gun to Barbara Havers in In Divine Proportion: The Inspector Lynley Murders. My cap.

First, do no harm: Needle, suture, and scissors can also be weapons, though he seem to be using them productively here and grinning the whole time. What a grin! Richard Armitage as Alex Track in The Golden Hour. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

A chilling synecdoche, or is it a metonymy? Richard Armitage’s hand as Peter Macduff’s hand in ShakespeaRE-told: Macbeth. My cap.

Now, someone we know really is armigerous: Guy of Gisborne (Richard Armitage) with his famous broadsword. It was hard to pick and choose among the many places where it appears in the series, but ultimately I loved this camera angle. Robin Hood 1.3, when Guy murders the man who’s been committing revenge killings to avenge his wife’s death. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

Guy of Gisborne (possibly a stuntman, but even so, notionally Richard Armitage) with a scimitar in a flashback to the assassination attempt on King Richard in Robin Hood 1.8. My cap.

A gratuitous thumbshot: Richard Armitage’s hand holding Guy’s nasty little dagger, with which he has just stabbed the Nightwatchman, in Robin Hood 1.12. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

A hammer would make a great weapon, too, though he didn’t use it on Billy Lister: Ricky Deeming (Richard Armitage) disassembles batteries for a living in Gently Go Man. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

Fire, the most feared weapon of the Middle Ages because there were precious few ways to stop it effectively. Guy of Gisborne (Richard Armitage) sets fire to Marian’s house in Robin Hood 2.1. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

The ultimate armor, undergoing testing in Robin Hood 2.3. Look at Guy’s eyes under that helmet: we definitely know this is Richard Armitage and not his stuntman. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

Guy can also use an arrow, though he fumbles it; here, during his attempt to smoke Robin out of the tree in Robin Hood 2.9. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

Should Lucas have his hands registered as deadly weapons? Lucas North (Richard Armitage) delivers the coup de grace to a terrorist in Spooks 7.1. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

Watching this scene almost killed this post, as I repeated it about three dozen times. I’ll have to write about it soon. It was also the subject of a short on the series 7 DVDs. Here, Lucas North (Richard Armitage) employs an exhaust pipe or a catalytic converter or something as a club in the breakers’ yard in Spooks 7.6. My cap.

His legs are also a deadly weapon. First, the thug he’s fighting gets the boot straight in the chest — and then, paramedics have to be called when Servetus stops breathing after she sees that astounding thigh. My Lord. Richard Armitage as Lucas North in Spooks 7.6. My cap.

Finally, a handgun: Lucas holds off the FSB kill squad in Spooks 7.8. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

Another broadsword employment I couldn’t resist: Guy, still crazed with grief after murdering Marian and filled with rage toward Robin, whom he blames for it, in Robin Hood 3.1. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

“Prepare the weapon!” There’s a lion in there somewhere, in Robin Hood 3.5. Richard Armitage as Guy of Gisborne. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

Is this a dagger I see before me on that oh-so-pretty behind? Pretty much, though no one is hallucinating here. Guy of Gisborne (Richard Armitage) prepares to try to follow King John’s orders to kill the Sheriff in Robin Hood 3.6. My cap.

I only use this power for good: Lucas uses his handgun to pick off the terrorist holding Harry in Spooks 8.1. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

It’s another handgun shot, but I put it in here because something I learned while picking these caps was how unbelievably varied Armitage’s facial expressions are when he’s shooting. Holding a gun is by no means an action that calls him to adopt a uniform stance or expression — it’s almost like he can be interacting with the gun as well. Here, in a standoff with Sarah Caulfield that he loses in Spooks 8.6. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

As a contrast to the picture above, holding a gun and seeming a great deal more insistent: Lucas (Richard Armitage) in a standoff with terrorists in Spooks 8.7, as he explains what will happen if the terrorists set everyone on fire and tries to talk them down by showing them how they’ve been deceived. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

OK, on to the epitome of weapons drama in the Armitage back catalog. I wanted unusual shots from this show. Here, John Porter (Richard Armitage) uses bric-a-brac as weapon in Strike Back 1.1 to express his rage at what’ s happening to him. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

Hmm, okay an exception to my principles. I’m including this one because he changes his eyes to coordinate to the color of the gun. How does he do that? John Porter (Richard Armitage) during a practice drill in Strike Back 1.1. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

Here, gun as battering ram: John Porter (Richard Armitage) picks up his jammed weapon and prepares to deflect the bullets with it in Strike Back 1.2. I got a little absorbed in multiple rewatches of this scene, too. My cap.

And a charming picture of how that looked behind the scenes. Richard Armitage takes a moment to relax from being John Porter during the filming of Strike Back. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

Something new: John Porter (Richard Armitage) throws a grenade in Strike Back 1.6. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

Servetus makes another exception for a really big gun: John Porter (Richard Armitage) shoots his way out of an ambush in Strike Back 1.6. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

We’re on the home stretch now: Heinz Kruger (Richard Armitage) with a cigarette lighter detonator in Captain America: The First Avenger. Source: Richard Armitage Central Gallery

Kruger (Richard Armitage) uses a vintage pistol to shoot through the roof of his getaway taxi in Captain America. Source: Richard Armitage Central Gallery

And now, anticipation: Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) shoots an arrow in pre-production vlog #4 from The Hobbit filming. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

That is the coolest sword, I think. Man, I can hardly wait! Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

SHOOT. I JUST REALIZED I LEFT OUT SPOOKS NINE. MAN. I WANT TO POST THIS TODAY. OK, I’LL GET BACK TO YOU ON THAT. AND PROBABLY SOME OF YOU ARE NOT THAT UPSET ABOUT THIS OMISSION ANYWAY.

~ by Servetus on November 7, 2011.

41 Responses to ““Armigerous” Armitage: a career overview”

  1. Why ruin a good weapon spam with Spooks 9? I enjoy it as it is. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  2. What Spooks 9? There was a Spooks 9? I thought that was just a figment of dear Lucas’s poor, post-tortured imagination. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    He does wield a weapon so well. It does seem a contradiction. but then everybody saw the John Wayne they knew from the movies as not only a cowboy, but a great military hero, and he never served a day in the service. And he probably wouldn’t have won any awards in a rodeo, either.

    I wonder if part of my fascination with the characters and their weapons is watching those beautiful artistic hands in action. And just watching HIM in action. It’s a joy.

    And the fact this gentle pacifist who believes in nurturing is so good at playing Action Man reminds us of what a good actor he is. ๐Ÿ˜€

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  3. OK, talk about coincidences–I am listening to Julian Fellowes talk about Downton Abbey and he just used the word “armigerous” talking about the aristocrats who had lived in the house used in the show. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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    • I just watched that too Angie!! I think Julian Fellowes is brilliant and I can’t wait to see the next series of Downton! That is an amazing house, isn’t it.

      This is a fascinating subject Servetus and I love all the shots of the various “weapons”!! ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’ve noticed that when he is holding a handgun he doesn’t always have his finger on the trigger even when he is pointing it at someone and technically should be ready to fire. I understand these are real guns that they use (particularly in Spooks and possibly also in SB) and I wonder if that bothers him even though they obviously don’t use live ammo. I don’t mind if you show pictures of Spooks 9! After all it will be Richard Armitage we will be looking at so how can that be bad?? Of course he will always be Lucas to me no matter what! ๐Ÿ™‚

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      • Yeah…have to agree with you, Teuchter, once again.

        I’m watching “Spooks” 9 for the 4th time but I’m putting off episode 8 for a couple of days still, ’cause it breaks my heart…….. but I will view it again soon. As you say, looking at Richard could never be bad…. just mighty painful sometimes. I get way too engrossed in some characters and Lucas was/is one of them.

        John Porter’s alleged (notice the “alleged”, please – he is SND!!) demise in that clip from SB2 almost makes me cry, too, but I will view it again someday I’m sure, just to see Richard’s beautiful face.

        Luckily, I have so many of his other DVDs from which to choose if I’m in need of some Armitage!

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      • Completely OT:
        Servetus & Teuchter, just wanted to say thankyou again for the video you recommended in Oct 29 post. I looked up the music, and have ordered the cd White Stones by Secret Garden, on which Apassionata is featured.

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  4. My my he is indeed a violent man! … i just love the worried man with the pen most, though and those folded sleeves always get me!

    Oh i also love that pic of the relaxed Richard during the strike back filming!

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    • yeah, it definitely reminds you that he’s not John Porter. Which is possibly a good thing, though John Porter has lots of great qualities.

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  5. Oh, Servetus, you’ve made my day! I, too, classify myself as a pacifist but I am having such fun looking at and admiring your choice of screencaps of Richard and his “weapons”….how do I explain that? Is it just because it’s someone I admire holding/using them that it seems OK to watch somehow?

    I think his eyes and mouth should be included as “lethal weapons, too – they could easily take down most red-blooded females as sure as shootiin’!

    And I didn’t even notice that you’d skipped “Spooks 9” until you mentioned it!

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  6. Gotta love the gratuitous thumb shot! Glad you snuck one in serv!! ๐Ÿ™‚

    The behind the scenes SB pic of Richard is one of my favourites, and I’ve often slo-mo’d the fight scene in spooks 7.6 so I can better view those “astounding” thighs.

    Great selection!!

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  7. I hope it was just the thighs you were perving at!!!!

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  8. Oh, heck, Mezz…you’re a fellow Australian…you know I’m just rubbishing you, don’t you?

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  9. pulling your leg, having a go at you, taking the mickey out of you, etc?

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  10. Took me ages to read this post because I was too busy gazing at the pics ๐Ÿ™‚ I especially love the Strikeback behind the scenes shot…he’s just too gorgeous for 6:30 on a Monday morning which was the time I found this in my inbox! There might even have been some drooling.

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  11. Always a pleasure to look at Mr. Armitage’s “weapon”. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  12. I love you guys!! It is so much fun to read all these comments. I really have to try not to laugh out loud so the noise doesn’t go beyond my suite and waken the rest of the family upstairs as it is nearly midnight and they have work and school to go to in the morning. Me? I’m an old retired lady who can get up when she feels like it most mornings! ๐Ÿ˜€

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  13. Here’s another one you left out: John Thornton’s fists in episode 1 of North and South. Get him angry (by, say, smoking in the mill) and those hands become a deadly weapon used to save his mill and the livelihood of his workers. You gotta love our JT!!

    It continues to amaze me how he is so obviously Richard Armitage and not John Porter in those ‘behind the scenes’ shots from Strike Back. Brilliant!!

    And I agree that the eyes are his most deadly weapon. Look, he’s got all of us floored already…;-)

    x

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  14. Thank you, Servetus, for your wonderful distraction and getting my head from mulling over other things. This wonderful collection of ‘research’ screenshots was a great help to get through my day ;o)

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  15. Guns and swords have nothing to do with his deadliest weapon…I’d have to go with the eyes, too. They require a license. What – you say? They’re already licensed to kill? Just bury me…

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  16. Great post. It is interesting that he describes himself as a pacifist, but as you have clearly shown, does a lot of work which involves weapons. It seems almost like a carry over from childhood. Something along the lines of, weapons are okay as long as it is just pretend. Maybe a little like a kid playing make believe. I’m thinking of children I know who would never hurt a fly, but love to play Peter Pan with toy swords.

    The thighs in that shot from Spooks 7.6 get me as well ;).

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    • part of it, I think, is that he’s very good at action, and that means weapons, but there is a definite element of playfulness there sometimes. There’s a behind the scenes photo of the first helicopter scene in Iraq from the SB set, and it shows Armitage looking at a gun in total fascination.

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  17. Great essay, Serv,
    What I find compelling about Richard Armitage’s portrayal of violence is that he always tries to find the humanity in the individuals–as he says himself in interviews. I think one time RA posed the question how does a man become a killing machine and then go home to his wife and kids and be a loving family man? So, when RA uses violence,you dont’ sense that it is gratuitous–but rather, integral to the story and character development.
    And oh yeah, he looks so hot with his “guns” tensed up and holding a gun as in SB 1. Sighhhh!
    Cheers! Grati ;->

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    • yeah, no disagreement. I just got fascinated by all the guns and toys. there’s another piece of that may make clear why. If only I had more time to write …

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  18. If he’s a pacifist, no wonder he’s so interested in exploring violence and its consequences.

    As Gratiana says, you never get the idea from his characters that physical brutality or being prepared to mete it out is a sign of strength, but that it’s a complex thing to be unpacked and struggled with. It’s an attractive thing, especially when most of our images of violence are very black and white: When They do it, it’s because They are bad/deranged/mindless; when We do it, it’s because we regretfully have to do it to keep the peace, or because someone has to “man up” and take up the fight and literally beat the bully. It’s very simplistic, usually. How many series and films indicate strength and integrity through the use of weapons? It’s a cliche: We know when our hero is about to become a hero because she or he takes up physical violence. Yet there aren’t many where she or he refuses to do so and finds a more creative solution or set of solutions or processes. I know it’s shorthand for the internal processes of struggle and the heroic journey; it’s just that it crowds out the alternatives, because it’s quick and easy and we’re used to it.

    Must. Stop. Essay…

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    • Great essay, Karen.

      He also said at some point that he found it easier to play these roles because they are not like him. I have a similar reaction to the people I study — the ones who are not like me are easier to parse. So I’m happy to continue watching him struggle with the problem of violence / weapons …

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  19. […] sorry, as I noted at the last second, I forgot about Spooks 9. Severe repression of unpleasant circumstances going on there, no doubt. Nonetheless, I have to go […]

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  20. […] the preparations for “Armigerous” Armitage, I found two scenes that intrigued me no end, that I watched over and over again. One was the scene […]

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  21. […] other thing that I couldn’t stop watching while I was selecting shots for “Armigerous” Armitage was this action sequence from Spooks 7.1, where Lucas and Dean go to the breaker’s yard to […]

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