Eye candy Armitage, or: superficial Armitage anatomy

Servetus loves exact analysis. And I spent a crazy amount of time talking to a retinologist, an opthalmologist, an optometrist, and an eye surgeon in 2011, none of whom seemed capable of speaking to each other. That said, analysis is not everything.

I know it may seem superficial, but for instance, it’s almost a shame to take this:

Richard Armitage, from a DVD extra on the Spooks series 9 DVDs, which I have not watched yet. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

and make it into this:

The same. With a few annotations.

Superficial in this sense doesn’t mean trivial — it means, occurring on the surface. I didn’t include any eye muscles in these diagrams because you can’t really see them. Interesting, however: I learned that the pronounced inferior palpebral sulcus here may make Mr. Armitage’s face look slightly more childlike, as a pronounced sulcus is unusual in adult faces.

And, of course, zeroing in, we have:

Richard Armitage’s left eye. Cropped from photo above.

The iris is an unbelievably complex structure, right down to the kinds of cells that make up its pigmentation. Did you know that the grey-blue pigmentation of the iris that allows the eyes to appear to change color depending on their surroundings is a relatively rare human phenotype? Incidentally, this is what pigmentation looks like, physically, in a photo taken from an electron microscope. The arrows point at the pigmentation granules in the surface of the iris:

But back to the topic:

Another crop of the photo above, showing Richard Armitage’s left eye.

To be noted:

  • there are many more structures in the iris than can be seen in this picture; again, these are just the superficial ones.
  • there’s an ongoing discussion in the fandom about the dilation of the pupils (mydriasis) as a sign of sexual arousal, with some fans claiming that Armitage can dilate his pupils at will in order to appear aroused. Pupil dilation during arousal is normally a function of the parasympathetic nervous system, so that it is involuntary. So I don’t think that he can dilate his pupils on purpose. However, two possibilities remain: one, I think unlikely, that he has somehow been conditioned to respond to a particular external stimulus with pupil dilation (this effect has been produced in certain animals). A second, more probable, that he produces in his own mind and body a condition of arousal (he thinks or acts himself into arousal for a scene in which his eyes will be filmed during lovemaking), which then, in turn, produces the parasympathetic reaction of the dilated pupil as an arousal signal. What do I think? That directors in these scenes light him in ways, intentionally or unintentionally, that cause pupil dilation. Most love scenes just don’t take place in broad daylight. I know that’s an awfully prosaic explanation. Sorry.
  • stubble is not a part of the structures of the eye, but I wanted to make sure you didn’t forget it was there. I wouldn’t want to be … superficial.

~ by Servetus on January 9, 2012.

53 Responses to “Eye candy Armitage, or: superficial Armitage anatomy”

  1. “Armitage can dilate his pupils at will in order to appear aroused.” LOL – just tickled me! Love the stubble ref!!

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    • It would be a real skill — if he actually had it. Up there with wiggling his ears.

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    • I always thought the prosaic explanation might be the right one, that it is caused by the light conditions. I noticed and thought about it long ago. Another explanation, which I hope is wrong, would be some kind of drug, either as eye drops or as a form of drug abuse.

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  2. but you WILL analyze stubble, right? Eventually?

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  3. That photo makes me pause, take a deep breath and slo-o-wly exhale every time I see it. *thud*

    Actually, one of my two favorite master’s level courses I took was Cecuitency of the Eye.(not sure about that spelling, sorry) Really, really fascinating stuff.

    Richard’s limbic ring (that dark ring that encircles his iris) is also very pronounced and studies indicate the stronger the limbic ring, the more attractive the person is to the opposite sex. Works for me. 😀

    My eyes change from blue to green to grey, but I have never seen them turn khaki-colored as his do in Strike Back. But then, he is so versatile in so, so many ways.

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    • Correction–“Limbal” not Limbic Ring. See, he’s got me all a-twitter.

      Re the eye dilation thing, the one that threw me is not a love scene and not dimly light. It was when Guy tossed Robin off the cliff (hurrah! hurrah!) and this was in broad daylight. I think he must have psyched himself up as Mad Boozy Wildman Guy because those pupils sure look dilated in this close-ups.

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      • I think that scene was partially CGIed, don’t you?

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        • Oh, yeah, because–sadly–he didn’t REALLY throw him off a cliff. Oops–sorry, did I say that out loud? *slaps self*

          But I have wondered about his eyes every since then. Was there FX trickery or did they actually turn black like that . . . anyway, however it happened, between his wolfish panting through an open mouth and those mad eyes, he was scary. And very sexy IMHO. And when he knelt down and howled like one of the coyotes in the back 40–whoooaaaaa.

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    • there’s a lot of discussion about what that ring is / does / means. Part of its appearance is due to the margin of the cornea, which attaches there, part of it is due to the contraction of the iris. There’s a pseudoscience, iridology, that claims that one can diagnose certain health conditions from the superficial appearance of the iris, and when that ring (which iridologists call the “scurf ring”) is pronounced, it’s supposed to point to fairly serious immune system issues / suppressed impurities in the body.

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      • uh oh!!! *runs worriedly from room* Next RA gift should be vitamins???!

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      • I had someone who wanted to do an iridology assessment on me several years ago but I passed. There was a little too much pseudo in that science for moi.

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        • it’s amazing, the things you learn while blogging — turns out the superficial structures of the iris, with the exception of eye color, appear at birth and are strongly stable. There’s a whole science of personal identification based on the fact that iris scans are basically stable across an entire human life. Who knew.

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          • We’ve all seen those eye scans used in techno thrillers . . . so it’s like a fingerprint, except fingerprints can be obliterated and not damage use of the hands, but it would be hard to do that to an iris without destroying the eyes. Very interesting.

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            • I thought they were retinal scans. Turns out there are two different technologies — retinal and iris scans.

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              • Cool. Then, of course, there are ears . . . very distinctive (in particular a certain actor’s elvish ones) . . . I always thought phrenology was interesting, although it had no scientific basis.

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          • The Russian baddies did this in Spooks 7.8. with pics of the masked section D members and identified them through iris patterns. Of that doesn’t mean it works in real life.

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            • I have to say that I can’t see how it would necessarily work with a retina. Given what I learned about detached and torn retinas this summer.

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  4. LOL! People have been saying that? They never considered the lighting?
    Yes, he may be good but he’s not that good. 😉

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  5. I *love* your Anatomy series! (My favourite are the resartus series though).
    I think your explanation for the dilatatd pupils is the most probable one: he is an actor after all, therefore he cooks up something in his mind before each scene to express a specific mood (love, lust, violence whatever).

    I heard in an interview that they re-shot the last N&S scene for a whole afternoon, so he must be very good to show at each camera angle and countless times that love-filled and tender face to Margaret!

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  6. I have to say that your initial, untouched image of Richard Armitage’s mesmirizing eyes stopped me cold in my typing tracks. He has two amazingly expressive eyes. And the eyes are the window to the soul. Ergo, QED, etc., Mr. Armitage has one amazingly expressive soul. That may be a bit enthymeme like. But what the heck. Ha!
    Cheers! Grati ;->

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  7. Certainly,actors have their trics to induce specyfic mood, or they use additional,extra- handy favorite materials;)
    I swear,for me, eyes are his best and most beautiful instrument.:)

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  8. I love the RA-anatomy lesson -) but still I’d like to know where it comes from the magic in his glance *thud*

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  9. I had to smile when I saw this…a post about those gorgeous eyes of RA’s, just when I was trying to decide if I should upload my first video to YT. The song title? “Bedroom Eyes.” I could have continued fiddling with it forever but the coincidence was too delicious to ignore, so now it’s done. My first ever fanvid on YT!

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    • Congrats, Mezz! Is your channel under the same name?

      And if anyone has bedroom eyes–oh, yes, it is Mr. A. *thud*

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      • Thanks angie, it’s under mezzym01. After midnight here and I’ve just spent an hour trying to get all the tags to show as I wanted them, it kept defaulting…found out I needed to enclose pairs of words, but I’m getting the hang of it! It’s quite a learning curve.

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  10. Those eyes are just extraordinarily expressive. The surrounding muscles are so – flexible? The face is simply made for close-up camera work.

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  11. That piercing stare just shoots right through you! Love it! The stubble does frame the eyes. 🙂

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  12. My daughter has eyes that change colour from deep blue through green to gray to a gold-flecked not-quite-hazel. Interesting to know it’s a rare phenotype. As for the dilation, I think he’s acting, but there are tricks you can use to get that effect, one of which is rather time limited. CG retouch in that S3 episode, maybe, especially for a prolonged take — less risky than messing with vision so close to a cliff.
    When you think that the eyes are the exposed parts of the brain, a look is really a very intimate touch.

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    • I don’t think they were anywhere near a cliff in that scene. But I love the idea of the eyes being the exposed pieces of someone’s brain.

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  13. Eyes to drown in….

    Another great analysis servetus. Your mention of the pronounced sulcus was interesting, that it can make a face appear more child-like. To me it’s more noticeable with Lucas, probably because of the way Spooks scenes are lit, giving him added vulnerability.

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  14. Eye thank you for this illuminating and insightful post. 😉 The Institute of Armitage Studies is grateful for your contributions!

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  15. This is the best eye analysis I have ever read. The best part is the stubbles. Haha! Kudos to you!

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  16. […] voice, let us refresh our memories as to the physical features of Mr. Armitage’s eyes via the previous overview. […]

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  17. […] the pronounced lower eyelid fold; […]

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  18. […] around his supraorbital ridge vies us a particularly beautiful perspective on his pronounced inferior palpebral sulcus (below left). From this perspective, it makes his face seem even more […]

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