Fan showcase: Jane (part 2)

The second of three parts of my interview with Jane. Part 1 is here.

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The German trailer for Strike Back. German TV is dubbed, so the main item of interest here is the “voice” chosen to play Armitage. In the trailer, however, we only hear Richard Armitage dubbed once, at the very end, when the synchronizer yells “Vertrauen Sie mir!” (“Trust me!”). I don’t remember any more where I got this; possibly RichardArmitageNet.com.

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S: As a native of Germany, you have access to both the German and the English-speaking fan venues. Most readers here don’t read German, so I think they’d be interested to hear you describe the German Armitage fan community. What are its centers, mood, and interactive style? Is there a “typical” German fan of Richard Armitage?

J: As the board was born out of a thread elsewhere, many of us started as Austen fans and discovered RA via North & South. Only recently have new members found RA through his other projects. British TV series and period drama in particular are sadly underrepresented on German TV, and next to nothing of RA’s work has been shown here, so the typical way to find him is by seeking out British period drama on DVD. People get interested in other British stuff as well, and as there are few places to discuss it in German, many have stayed. Over the years, the topics have become varied and mostly not RA-related. The RA board has thus become more of a community for British TV series and actors. The RA section is still active, but many people stayed or in fact joined for other actors and for the community.

Because of our experiences with the Austen board, we decided to welcome discussion of other shows and actors. While we understood the Austen board moderators’ point of view, we wanted the RA board to be open for everyone and everything. The RA portion of the board is public; other sections require membership. We also have a “no censorship” policy that sets us apart from other RA communities. No topic and no opinion is taboo and as long as people are sensible and respectful it isn’t a problem. With very few exceptions it has worked really well. The style of posting has often been described as “hart aber herzlich.” Do you know a good English translation for that?

S: How about: tough but tender? Harsh but hearty? Severe but sincere? I’m trying to catch the alliteration.

J: A lot of joking and teasing go on and people are not afraid to speak their minds if they don’t like something, but likewise, they don’t like others to repeat their complaints too often. Many of us have met and become friends in real life as well.

The work of Richard Armitage Germans are most likely to be aware of: Richard Armitage as Philip Turner, being questioned by Lynley and Havers in The Inspector Lynley Mysteries: In Divine Proportion. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

S: Is there anything that German fans of Armitage generally agree on?

J: Probably that we are dissatisfied with what German TV has to offer! That means mostly all the popular American series and movies, plus the stuff our own channels produce, which often isn’t very good. As I said, a few British productions, and if they are shown, they are not the highlight of the week but occupy inconvenient time slots. Strangely enough, murder mysteries like Inspector Lynley are almost the only things that are shown frequently and find a regular audience, every Sunday at 10:00 on one of our main channels.

S: And then he played a “German.” Or not. You’ve commented elsewhere on your reaction to the comic-book depiction of Nazis in Captain America. Obviously, German views on the National Socialists are as diverse as the 80 million-plus Germans, but could this portrayal go anywhere that won’t be problematic for that audience? Is it possible as a German viewer simply to embrace the comic book aspect of the villain and ignore its (stereotypical) take on history?

J: I think it is possible, as the movie is really nothing to be taken seriously, but I’m not surprised that it didn’t do as well as it did in other countries, respectively, as comparable superhero movies did in Germany. Germans may also not have been drawn towards the patriotic / jingoistic aspect of the film. I personally don’t have a problem with the Nazi villain role; it is just that I’m not keen on the genre and that RA’s part is too small to make me want to pay to see it. It is exactly what I always thought would be realistic as a first movie part for an actor with RA’s previous body of work, so I’m neither thrilled nor disappointed.

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Lost in the crowd? Richard Armitage as Heinz Kruger in Captain America. Source: Richard Armitage Central Gallery

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S: So Strike Back was a British production – but I’m guessing, based on its conscious imitation of American material that gets sold for foreign broadcast, you might have been dismayed.

J: I was hugely disappointed when I learned about this project. It came at a point when, after years of Robin Hood and Spooks, he promised a film, a play, and a six-part TV series. I was thrilled by the prospect of a small but ambitious film (apparently Charlie, which never came to fruition) and of a play, and I speculated that the TV series could be Luther, something I would have been happy with. Despite mixed reviews for the latter, it garnered Idris Elba both Emmy and Golden Globe nominations, so it turned out to be an artistically worthy project for a serious actor.

S: Armitage remarked a few times in the press that appeared around the premiere of Strike Back and the broadcast of Spooks 9 that he was learning to accept that he was going to do some things his fans wouldn’t like. Was this simply a taste question on your part?

J: No. It wasn’t just a case of ‘I don’t like the genre so I’ll skip it’ or ‘it is not my cup of tea but I’ll give it a try anyway.’ Strike Back had the potential to move his career in a direction that I considered unwise. A Sky production doesn’t reach the same audiences as a BBC or U.S. TV series, and serious critics look at the action/adventure genre and discount it automatically as rubbish. They were going to dismiss his acting, no matter how much effort he put into it. Parts like this create the impression that an actor has nothing to offer but looks and physical agility – which is inaccurate in RA’s case. As Andrew Lincoln’s character says in Strike Back 1.6, it’s not what you are, but what you appear to be. Had he done Shakespeare, he would have been respected simply for doing Shakespeare even if his acting in Strike Back was just as good!

Add to this problem my disgust over the prospect of seeing RA in uniform, equipped with a machine gun. I can live with violence in Spooks or a murder mystery and am happy to see him with armor and a sword in Robin Hood or The Hobbit, so it is not squeamishness or a general objection to violence. But I have a huge problem with the use of a contemporary military conflict (or WWII for the matter) as a backdrop for a light action/adventure piece. War isn’t fun. As a German, my view towards the military is probably a lot more ambivalent than that of a Brit or an American. The concept of a soldier as a “hero” is alien to me. I’m not a pacifist, nor do I think the subject must be avoided, but it needs to be treated seriously and not as boys-and-their-toys stuff. Strike Back may make a few attempts in that direction but, in my opinion, you simply can’t have it both ways.

Prophetic words for Richard Armitage’s career in Strike Back 1.6?

S: Do you know how Strike Back did in Germany?

J: It aired on RTL2, a second tier private channel, and got about a half million viewers (as opposed to something like eight million for the German version of I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here).

S: What did you think of it when it came out?

J: I admit that for the reasons mentioned, although I’ve seen a clip here and there, I still have only watched the first two episodes. I refuse to watch the rest, not because I dislike what I have seen, but because I object to what it stands for. Out of curiosity, I looked at Strike Back: Project Dawn, and I actually managed to watch somewhat more of it. It helped that they wore jeans and t-shirts instead of uniforms and focused on chasing terrorists, not on military operations (as far as I could tell). But what may be okay for Mssrs. Stapelton and Winchester is not at all what I want for Mr. Armitage. To be honest, I may end up liking it, should I watch it, and how would that look after I have ranted about it for ages? I’m not going to risk that! (Laughs!)

Tomorrow: Jane’s own take on quo vadis Armitage!

Servetus reports of Jane: Jane didn’t want to report anything about herself and consistently ignored requests for a bio. Servetus concluded that Jane is mysterious! So we will proceed, evidentially, via a “B reading.” Jane apologizes for the Rechtschreibreform. Jane likes Lucas’ face best in Spooks 7. She learned medieval poetry at school. Jane thinks spelling errors are charming, but she is annoyed by Umlaut erasure. She keeps her eye on Armitage’s Spotlight page. She thinks botoxing is cheating. She’s good at puns. She’s left-handed. She likes to wear Birkenstocks. Oh, and in case you’re curious: her written English is outstanding. Hopefully, you get the picture.

***

[Fan showcases are an irregular feature on “me + richard armitage.” These segments seek to highlight the opinions and activities of a cross-segment of the very diverse group of people who have become fans of Richard Armitage. Previous showcases can be found here: bZirk, Eli, LadyKate63, fitzg, Angieklong, khandy, jazzbaby1, Amanda Jane. I plan to continue this feature intermittently, so if you are interested in being interviewed, please let me know. My email address can be found in the sidebar under “About.” — Servetus]

~ by Servetus on January 17, 2012.

62 Responses to “Fan showcase: Jane (part 2)”

  1. […] Tomorrow: German Armitageworld! […]

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  2. “He promised a film, a play and a six-part tv series.” Don’t be too hard on the poor guy Jane! 😉 He said he hoped for Spooks9 which came about, the film didn’t eventuate, he may have been passed over for the series, we don’t know for sure, and the play, which I’m assuming is The Rover, had to make way for The Hobbit. I’m only throwing guesses out here, I’m not totally sure of all the time frames involved, so please correct me if I’m wrong!!

    This part of the interview was particularly interesting for its German perspective. Thanks Jane and servetus. 🙂

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    • Thanks for the comment, Mezz. The interview was from before I became a fan, so I’m not precise on everything, but he does say “a stage play based on a novel, which became a 60’s film classic,” — which can’t have been The Rover.

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      • Thanks for the correction serv, that’s what comes of just glancing at the referred interview! I was in a hurry to comment before I had to go out. Now I’m curious as to which novel/film it was. 🙂

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      • Might this have been a remake of Rebecca?

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  3. Free associating: another picture of the view of Armitage from Germany is that German TV is dubbed — so people who aren’t watching on DVD (where they can choose OmU — Original mit Untertiteln, or subtitled video) miss out on “the voice.”

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    • That indeed is a great loss in the dubbed versions. I found “Strike Back” really hard to watch in German, not only for RA’s missing voice, but also because I cannot bear the military paroles and orders given in German. I can tolerate them much better in English, though they are as forceful and say exactly the same thing. I deeply agree with Jane here.
      I think I only got through the first two parts, for the third and further parts I went back to the English version.

      Thank you for the great presentation, Servetus and Jane!

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  4. Being more of an “emotional” person, I tend to experience my admiration for RA from that perspective. Now, I am trying to gain some perspective and objectivity and your blog really helps. These interviews are fabulous. I love the objectivity and what Jane said about people being allowed to disagree in a respectful way on a different forum. I love the objectivity and the room to include different opinions.

    I too was not too impressed with Strike back and did not make it through the final episode. I doubt I would have even watched it if not for Mr. A. I just did not like it but reading Jane’s views, I now understand why. I did not like the violence. I reasoned that RA did Strike Back as a way of experimenting with the genre. I mean action films can get to be huge vehicles. I have no way of knowing this, but he has done romantic leads, plays, voice overs, why not action hero. And now a dwarf in what is sure to be a mega hit. I think he is very versatile and a self proclaimed workaholic so of course he would make the best decisons for his career given the limitations that he must also face with scheduling, funding, casting, etc. I mean, how long have we heard of his interest in Richard III, and that has not come into fruition. I imagine he is still working at some level to get it done.

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    • gracie, your first paragraph echoes how I feel. My feelings for Richard Armitage are at times almost overwhelming, so I defintiely need that more objective standpoint and perspective that this blog and commenters like Jane present.
      I like to think that generally speaking though I am more realistic than idealistic when it comes to him.

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      • @mezz. I am now beginning to read some of the info on him a little bit more critical. Not to criticize but to put it into perspective so that I do not put him on a pedestal or see him unrealistically. I feel better when I feel balanced. But i must admit that to experience the idea of him, his interviews, his work, was completely emotional for me. I did not analyze it, I just felt it. But feeling and thinking are better together. Serv and now Jane are helping me do that.

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    • @Gracie: I think ,he is on the best road now,one more year of hard working and his dreams finaly comes true.

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      • @joanna. I think so too. I have no way of knowing this as fact but I suspect that he has always wanted the success that the Hobbit promises. Why else work so hard, try all different genres and invest so much of time (almost a year of filming) into a project as big as this.

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        • I feel it’s not so much success for its own sake, but more that it will open doors for him, allow him to take on projects that really interest him, with directors he can learn from, and ultimately develop and nourish his craft. In the past he has said that he was reluctant to knock back work, because he wasn’t getting roles, so hopefully increasing success eases the concern of financial security.

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          • Mezz, I completely agree with you. I think success really means the ability to pick and choose his roles and make decisions that are right for him in his journey as an artist. It will provide him with opportunities that he would not have access to otherwise.

            In my heart of hearts, I am even hoping that it will enable him to highlight a cause close to his heart and sensitize people to it so that some positive social change can come from it. I know, I know, there is the emotional part of me again and putting on him what actually belongs to me. LOL.

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            • That might be your emotional side projecting again, gracie, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he did so. He’s already shown that he is a caring and aware man in that respect with his Just Giving charities.
              I admired Pierce Brosnan for many many years and he has used his success and high profile to highlight conservation issues.

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    • Big Hollywood action movies can launch a career, a Sky series like SB not so much. I wouldn’t have objected to a Hollywood action movie because I can see it is useful. I think he did it for the money, I understand it, it was a lead, it was well paid, it came at a time when cuts were made everywhere. But I don’t respect him for it, I would respect him more if he hadn’t shown this business sense.

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      • But don’t you think he has as much right as anyone else to show business sense when it comes to making a living? It’s not like he has the luxury of being an A-lister who can knock back roles at whim, nor was anybody “hurt” because of his choice. Disappointed maybe, but not hurt. I certainly don’t respect him any less for his decision to take the role of JP.

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        • He has every right. Just like most of us do our jobs for money, not out of idealism. And still do a good job and find contentment. I think, with him it is the same, he makes sensible choices that sometimes mean he has to make compromises and still makes the most of it and finds an artistic challenge in it.

          However, there are actors that do say no to money and do what they want. Rumour are that David Tennent was offered 1 million pounds for another series of Doctor Who and didn’t do it because he wanted to go back to stage. Other actors are on record (whether it is true or not) that they only accept projects when the script is good and interests them. That is a position I admire in an artist. Perhaps it is too harsh to say I don’t respect RA for doing SB, but I certainly would respect him more if had done something else instead.

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          • It is also a luxury position to be in, to be able to pick and choose what truly piques their interest.

            It totally depends on their needs and financial security, some actors have admitted taking on a project simply for the money, not for the artistic merit of the script. Some fine examples are Jeremy Irons and Michael Caine.
            But then you also have someone like Daniel Day-Lewis, who quite happily will work as cobbler in his free time and live a very low-key life. Same profession, but very different motivations.
            Personally I can’t say RA lost some respect when he chose SB, for I don’t know his reasoning for that particular choice.

            But I do understand your last stance, SB wouldn’t have been something I had in mind either.

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          • We can only assume what were the real reasons for his decision to take on a certain role, but we simply do not know. We are not in his shoes, none of us is professionally involved in the film business, I take it, and has really profound background knowledge. It’s always easy to judge someone else from an outside point of view.

            Granted there might be actors who refuse a well-payed role in order to take on a more artistically acclaimed part, but in most cases they are already well established in the business and can afford it. In my opinion the comparison to David Tennent doesn’t hold water- first of all it’s just a rumour and even if it were true, we have no knowledge whatsoever about the further circumstances.

            Richard seems to have gone through some rough times at the start of his career, often he had to take on other jobs he didn’t like, in order to pay the rent. Thus I can completely understand his desire to be on the safe side. “Der Spatz in der Hand ist besser als die Taube auf dem Dach”- as we say in Germany. But again I’d like to emphasize that we don’t have individual background knowledge to compare his decisions to the decisions of other actors.Who are we to judge- or even to refuse him respect ! That’s not fair and not justified.

            As far as his career moves are concerned, his role as John Porter gave him the opportunity to get his first role, however small, in an international big budget film. And then, rather unexpected for the most of us, far from the misty mountains came Thorin Oakenshield- a really iconic part that might possibly catapult him into a completely different league ( fingers crossed 😉 ). I’d say we’ll be in for some more surprises :-).

            BTW, his eclectical choice of genres has really broadend my horizon. I have watched films I normally wouldn’t have given a second thought- and his performance convinced me each and every time. I love Strike Back- and that’s because he created a really nuanced, memorable character-not just a cartoon hero.” Artistic” roles don’t automatically guarantee quality. In my opinion someone is an extraordinarily gifted actor, when he plays his part, be it big or small, well written or not, in a way that gets to me on an emotional level. And I think that’s what Richard really does so well- you see, no you feel, that he really cares about all the roles he plays.

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          • I don’t normally watch “action” TV shows because I don’t care to watch graphic violence and the only reason I watched Strike Back was to see more of RA’s work (since there’s so little of it out there). I was surprised that I actually liked this show. As a matter of fact, it’s one of my favorite roles RA has played. I appreciate the character of John Porter because it’s not a role that is limited to being a “killing machine.” In every episode there’s a situation where John Porter is sent to kill someone and chooses not to based on personal reasons. He’s the person who cares about people in a world where others don’t. I assume an American production company took over the making of the series and it’s a shame because they turned it into an atrocity… and I was looking forward to seeing the relationship of Layla and John develop. RA and Jodhi May had great chemistry.

            RA has taken on several roles where he is the baddie and turned those roles into characters we love to watch. And he has said consistently in interviews that he always looks for the good in the bad. So maybe when this opportunity came his way, he took that into consideration.

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            • I think Layla and Porter could have been a really really interesting plot path. Obviously I loved Angie’s fanfic on this topic but I also could have seen other directions for that relationship to go. It was a huge plus for me both that Layla was smart and brave and that Jodhi May played her.

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          • Richard wasn’t all that impressed with the premise of SB but said he saw the opportunity to make something of the Porter character as a challenge. A weak script can be lifted by the performance of a lead (or ensemble), just as an “artistic” role (to quote Nimue above) doesn’t mean the film itself is quality.
            The former was certainly the case for SB in my view, with Richard giving me a character I could love and admire, flaws and all; brave, intelligent, moral, resourceful and tender. And need I add sexy?!!! 😉

            I think one can be disappointed by or not respect a decision made by someone, but at the same time not lose any respect for that person.

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            • We may read those quotes slightly different. That he wasn’t impressed at first shows me that he saw SB’s flaws clearly, just as the general problems of the genre (after all he called himself a pacifist), but others reasons made him accept it – it was the sensible thing to do and it would have been unwise to say no, especially in financially unstable times. I think seeing it as a challenge and trying to do the best he can with it, came later, after the rational decision had been made.

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            • I have to say that I read this more like Jane — that once he had decided he was going to do it, he was going to apply his usual interpretive lens to the work.

              I have to say that that comment about being a pacifist really intrigued me.

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  5. I always forget ‘my’ neighbours can’t see the BBC nor get the same amount of Brit+US series as I do, I have to note that I’m Dutch. 🙂 I simply can not imagine how he would sound dubbed, nor would want to 😉

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    • Movies are dubbed, too, I suspect they will even dub Thorin’s singing. And it is like this in France and Italy and the Spanish-speaking world as well. You cannot possibly ask of a viewer who is used to watching everything in his own language to listen to a foreign language and bother with subtitles.

      I know from French and Italian fans that the situation with regards to BBC material on their TV is similar to Germany, it doesn’t play a big part.

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      • It really is a shame, I usually find the nuance disappears when dubbed. Not to mention hearing the actor’s own voice and inflection etc.
        It is quite a luxury to be able to watch the BBC as well, alas the iPlayer does not work. Well, can’t have everything. 😉

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        • On the plus side, I think some actors improve in German dubbing. Keanu Reaves is one example. The actor who voices him can actually act.

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          • You are cruel,cruel woman.! 😀

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          • LOL Aww, I’ve had a long time crush on Keanu, but yes, he’s not exactly the best actor around. 😀

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            • there’s someone who’s gotten cast because he’s beautiful — and who I think is aware of it and has tried to recover from it. He’s obviously trying to improve his acting and his roles, and I haven’t watched many of his later attempts.

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  6. @cc: just imagine this- Thorin speaks Polish!…to hell with it! 😡

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    • Eeeks! Nothing against the Poles, but no! Thank you Dutch for being obstinate and just using subtitles!

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      • I don’t think it is a point of being obstinate. I think it is not profitable for smaller countries to dub movies, but for those with a large population like Germany, France, Italy and Spain because there is a big audience.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dubbing_%28filmmaking%29#Europe

        That means for RA he has to win over large parts of the international audience without relying on his voice.

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        • Only children’s movies & series get dubbed though, so unfortunately we get to see Hannah Montana in both Dutch and original versions. Not sure that is a real blessing. 😉

          I have no doubt it was more cost effective to simply sub everything, not only cheaper, but also a lot quicker for a release of movies and series, therefor a better turnover. Nowadays I don’t think it’s a big criteria anymore, but something we’re just used to and wouldn’t want it any other way.

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          • The Dutch are awesome! 🙂 I for one am very grateful for the Netherlands’ preference to subtitle instead of dubbing. It means you can actually get some titles on R2 DVD you can’t get anywhere else, such as a box of series 1-3 of Robin Hood (they’re mainly sold separately in the UK, at least so far), to mention an RA-relevant example, but I have others on my DVD shelf as well. (The only one I’m a bit bleagh about is that the subtitles on one of them aren’t optional – you can’t get rid of them … but one mustn’t grumble – that’s the only DVD of that film available this side of the Atlantic!)

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  7. Whatever the motivation, I was disappointed in the decision to accept Strike Back. It had its moments, but it wasn’t great. Still, at least it was a lead role and almost a movie production experience… as for CA, less said, the better. Paid the bills, no doubt.

    I’d far rather have sub-titles than dubbing for films/TV.

    Just bring on The Hobbit! 😀

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    • Agreed. I didn’t exactly watch SB for the storyline or the action. I watched it solely because of RA, and for the last couple of parts of s1, Toby Stephens.

      I mean, look at s2. Saw first couple of eps because of RAs brief appearance. The rest? Tried. Cancelled the series link and haven’t looked back. Just didn’t like it, no matter how much of a babe Philip Winchester might be.

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  8. I love Strike Back, but then I am not anti-military. I am glad he did it.

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    • I quite like Strike Back too,for several reasons. Some of them are very shallow;)

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      • I like the shallow reasons too, but I also feel very, very protective of John Porter. He’s my favourite character, and look what Richard made of an outwardly conventional action role. I like action shows, they’re good fun when you are working out in front of the tv :-), but I delete the recordings after watching them. Even if there wasn’t a DVD of SB, I would never delete this recording, and I don’t watch it while working out. It would be a waste of Richard’s talent not to watch it closely. 🙂

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        • I wouldn’t have watched Strike Back but for RA. The show itself and its premise did nothing for me but John Porter did! Whooaaa! 😉

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        • @ Nietzsche: as to your last sentence- never allow myself to such disrespect,I ‘drank’ words from his lips! 😀

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  9. I don’t like the Georgette Heyer audiobooks. I listened only to a small part of Convenient Marriage and couldn’t go on. Sylvester and Venetia sit on my shelf, but I can’t bring myself to listen. Never will, most probably. I am bored out of my skull by those regency romances, though noct by LOTN ;-). and yet, I would never criticize Richard for doing them. It would be impolite and arrogant to do so. It is Richard’s choice, as it was when he took the role of John Porter. But, ok, Jane and I had our share of, er, lively discussions “Over there” ( an American Great War march, btw). 🙂

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    • I love Porter (as anyone who reads this blog knows) and was amazed by what Armitage made out of him. But.

      What I got from this chunk of the interview with Jane was totally unanticipated, and I so I want to clarify what I understood, because I don’t think the point is being brought out in the discussion very well. If I understand it, the point for Jane isn’t so much criticizing Armitage for doing Strike Back (although she doesn’t like it), but something slightly different.

      To put it another way: For many people who started watching Armitage with N&S, *when there was almost nothing else to see*, their picture of him was as a very serious aspiring actor who had done a stint with the RSC, had been on stage many times in smaller roles in important venues, and then did a BBC drama. In his early interviews he talked about wanting to do Coriolanus and Pinter, etc. They then suffered through many years of tv series drama of varying quality — and without the perspective of anything on the horizon, Strike Back must have inevitably have seemed like a serious step down, especially because he’d left the Charlie project.

      That is a totally different perspective from mine. Yes, I love serious theatre; yes, I watch Shakespeare, etc., etc. And: Yes, I saw N&S first, but he had made everything up to Strike Back 1 by the time I became a fan. So I didn’t have a picture of him in my mind as a stage actor who was temporarily on tv while he looked for work more strongly fitting his interests and talents. For me, N&S was the outlier, not the standard by which to measure everything else that happened afterwards. And that beginning standpoint makes a big difference.

      Fwiw, it also makes me understand Armitage a bit better when he makes statements about disappointing fans. I always read those and thought, “huh, are you crazy? Nothing you’ve done has been a disappointment.” But if what he has in his mind is a group of fans who following him from N&S in the way that Jane did, I can see why he’d make statements like that.

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      • It was not that in the early days there was nothing but N&S or that the impression that he is basically a stage actor doing a bit of TV was so overwhelming (after all, he choose TV because his stage career didn’t flourish), but there was a better balance, he had done fluffy, lightweight stuff like Cold Feet and Ultimate Force but also some really good drama with Sparkhouse and BTS (as racy as that was), even after N&S he did the Golder hour (something I never watched) and as a contrasting thing the Impressionists. And while after RH1 he only did guest appearances the characters were pretty diverse. But then he became confined to nothing but RH, Spooks and SB and after signing his contract was at the mercy of the writers. He moved into mainstream (on a TV scale) and became better known but not as an actor for quality pieces.

        I kind of fear that the same pattern may repeat itself on a Hollywood scale. I’m not the only one hoping he will finally be able to pick and choose, but maybe the mechanisms that carved his TV career will be at work again, he will again be offered action/heartthrob roles and will decide to take them because they are lucrative.

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        • Most actors take what they can get until they’re offered more/better opportunities. It’s bascially true for all professions/careers — we start at the bottom and work our way to the top. I think he’s well on his way to the top. I imagine he’s already receiving more/better opportunities. I can’t wait to see the world’s reaction when The Hobbit comes out. I think it’s going to be amazing.

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          • Assuming he did take the best that was on offer, or the only things that were on offer, and it wasn’t a choice on his side, question remains why he didn’t get better offers, after all other actors did get them. What did they had that he was lacking? I like to think that he could have been cast in a number of things if he weren’t already committed to something else – of course I don’t know if that is right. It is always a gamble to say no and wait for something better. It is the question about the sparrow in the hand.

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            • My opinion is that he steered clear of the period dramas so he wouldn’t be type cast as the “heartthrob.” When filming of The Hobbit started, I was following some of those fan sites and was surprised to see there were a lot of folks who didn’t think RA was a good choice for the role of Thorin. Some because he didn’t fit the physical description they envisioned when reading the book and others because he wasn’t a good actor — “wooden” & “hack” were used to describe him. But I can’t imagine anyone who watched the death scenes of Guy or Megan could think of his acting as wooden or him as a hack. Critics are already using “gravitas” to describe his portrayal of Thorin and that’s based on a preview. The buzz has already started.

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              • He may or may not have stayed away from period drama out of fear to be typecast, but wasn’t above typecasting when it came to SB parallel to Spooks. In Spooks 9.1 they even did put him in Porter’s cloths and on a mission that could have been his. It may have been in insider joke, but IMO it did sent a dangerous message, that this actor is always the same and plays the same character. That the characters were too similar to highlight RA’s versatility is another reason why I think it was an unwise choice.

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                • It seems to me, for whatever reason, he has specifically chosen not to play heartthrob roles. But other actors do the same thing. I mentioned it only as a reason why his choice of roles would have been limited in the past. In my opinion SB was just a more violent version of Spooks, although I liked SB better.

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  10. I don’t want to say too much about that now because the next part deals with it in more detail. But really, the problem is not that he did SB at all but that he did nothing else for many years. For his RH and SB co-stars Toby Stephens and David Harewood it is just fine to do something like that for a change, for fun, for money, whatever, because both are establishes stage actors and have done their stint with movies as well.

    I had high hopes that after years of TV series and virtually no time for anything else he would use the break between two series of Spooks to diversify. I had also hoped that the higher profile thanks to Spooks would pay off and learning about SB was a real bummer.

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  11. I do think that the perspective changes somewhat and in some cases a lot depending on whether one is a long time fan or a fairly recent one. I saw N&S first. Sparkhouse second, RH, VD, etc and finally SB. This, in a matter of weeks. It was almost all of his tv work in a short period of time. I had the luxuary to compare works very quickly without having to wait, read, anticipate, and know too much about his own process or how the movie came to be. Obviously that has to have influenced how I anaylzed some of the roles. I loved John Porter too. But I did not like SB as a movie/series. He did a great job with the character in my opinion. But I would not have watched the second episode had he not been in it. But then again, I had already marinated myself in RA movies by then.

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  12. […] conclusion of my interview with Jane. Part 1 is here; part 2 is here. This third piece is the most controversial part of the interview, so a reminder of the […]

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  13. I’m somewhere in the middle of Jane and gracie. I was a “slow burner.” I saw Richard in RH and VoD over a period of time, without the emotional investment of a longtime N&S fan, then watched the rest of his performances in fairly quick succession as someone totally immersed in him.
    I can see how perspective would change.

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  14. […] Since Jane aired her disapproval of Strike Back as an artistic and career choice, I’ve been thinking about why I liked it so well, admittedly against my own expectations. It’s not the kind of thing I’d have watched if Richard Armitage weren’t in it. I subscribe to everything she said about it as a career choice — it wasn’t the kind of role that was going to get Mr. Armitage invitations to do Shakespeare in the West End or anywhere else. It certainly exploited his sex appeal, and it’s true that doing so is an at best ambivalent strategy if he wants higher profile roles in more respected genres. I agree that it’s the kind of project that can lead serious critics to dismiss an actor’s career if he does too many of them. I think she’s right that for whatever reason, it matters less if Armitage puts himself through physical ordeals to make this sort of thing than if he did the same for an “artsier” film that got more subtle critical attention. Although I think she’s right about all of that, it doesn’t have much personal effect on me. Partially I react this way for the reasons that I have already aired in my two posts on the question of Armitage and the necessity of great art at extreme length (part one / part two), so I won’t rehearse them here, but suffice it to say that “great art” isn’t a concept that influences me much. As someone who’s spent all of her professional life writing things that will be read by perhaps a few dozen people at most — I’m not kidding; thousands more people have read this blog than will ever read my published work under my real name — I would also guess there must be a pleasure in doing a project that large groups of people enjoy. It’s never been entirely clear to me from his interviews exactly what kind of career Richard Armitage wants, beyond wanting to continue to work, so my tacit assumption is that what he does pleases him (more or less), and though I’m not a friend or a relative of his, I do want him to do what most pleases him as long as it’s not illegal or hurtful to others in a specific, concrete way. Even if, as Jane would say, I still have opinions about things that may be none of my business. […]

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  15. Hi gals,
    I’m coming late to this discussion. Personally, I think everyone is entitled to their own opinion. And we just have to agree to disagree.

    I see Porter as honorable and flawed–and that Richard Armitage made the most of this character portrayal of him. I’m not fond of shoot out types of movies, but I enjoyed SB series 1 for its character development. And that Richard Armitage–the avowed pacifist–consciously and purposely wanted to show the flaws inherent in this particular character is rather astute of Mr. Armitage in my estimation. I did not view him as glorifying the role, quite the opposite, in fact.

    Perhaps I view the Porter character through a different “lens” than does Jane or others–because everyone’s unique experiences shape our views. I am both the child of a WWII veteran who saw no combat in the Pacific–he built bridges–but he was wounded from a land mine that had not been fully disarmed. And on my mother’s side I am German, my grandfather having been born in the U.S. in the 1870’s, but his parents were born in Germany. My German ancestry grandfather is perhaps the epitome of a modest American success story of hard work yielding financial rewards, him engaging in community service, and he and my grandmother raising a large and gregarious family of six kids. But they had their share of sorrow, too. The eldest girl died as a toddler because there were no medicines then, and the eldest son was killed by a drunk driver months before he was to be married. And my mother’s own severe childhood illnesses almost saw her follow her eldest sister–whom she never knew–to heaven. But, my mother persevered despite great pain and she survived. And finally, I remember vividly that my mother told me stories of how her family’s German surname would cause those who did not know our family to insult them during the war years–despite having two sons and a daughter serving their country during that war. However, that discrimination of our “Germaness” was counterbalanced in my mother’s mind, as she told me, by their many more dear friends and grandpa’s colleagues who went out of their way to be inclusive of my mother’s family.

    In closing, Jane states rather candidly toward the end of today’s post that she has not seen much of the Strike Back series because of what I might perceive as her visceral reaction to it being a war/military type of film: “I admit that for the reasons mentioned, although I’ve seen a clip here and there, I still have only watched the first two episodes. I refuse to watch the rest, not because I dislike what I have seen, but because I object to what it stands for.” Fair enough. Some things are too painful or distasteful to watch given our personal experiences and/or personal philosophies.

    So, I appreciate that Jane has a different interpretation of Porter and Richard Armitage’s portrayal of him than I do, perhaps. And that’s okay by me and hopefully okay by her.

    Cheers! Grati ;->

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    • I don’t have an opinion of RA’s portrayal of JP at all, I don’t even take that into consideration. I don’t care about the admirable qualities the character of JP has or about the subtleties of RA’s acting. I just felt that, for this actor, on this stage of his career, it was wrong on so many levels to get involved in a project like this. The only good thing is that he managed to get himself out of it after one series, even if it apparently wasn’t easy and and would have been much easier to fulfil his contract.

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      • I’m glad he got out of SB2 as well, though I admit that I am curious about how the script might ahve differed if it had been bound to elements of his previous characterization.

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  16. American producers wouldn’t have cared much about continuity and development of a character fans came to love (or did RH and Spooks producers care? :mrgreen: ).

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  17. […] here: bZirk, Eli, LadyKate63, fitzg, Angieklong, khandy, jazzbaby1, Amanda Jane, Jane (part 1, part 2, part 3). I plan to continue this feature intermittently, so if you are interested in being […]

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