F3, Day One! One voice to thrill them all, and Armitage to bind them!
Welcome to Day One of FanstRAvaganza 3, with nineteen new posts for you to enjoy!
Some posts are scheduled to appear automatically, while others will be posted manually. Keep in mind that not every link may be live until the end of the event day at 23:59, London time. Links to RSS feeds of chains and the whole event will be updated at the end of each event day.
F3 tagteams, Day One: In the beginning, Richard Armitage made scores of fans — and he keeps on making them!
To kick off the fandom chain, Didion converts friends to Armitage love • Phylly3 reports on her fandom experiences • In the Hobbit chain, Ana Cris writes on her recent film location visit • Mrs. E.B. Darcy speculates about what our hero will do in An Unexpected Journey (spoilers!) • King Richard Armitage chain begins with Maria Grazia on a film adaptation of Richard III • Beginning the fanfic chain, fedoralady explains fanfic’s mainstream appeal • In the freeform chain, Fabo files an eyewitness report on Richard Armitage’s visit to U.S. accent school • jazzbaby1 wonders “what were they thinking?” re: Lucas North’s women • and ChrisB opens the Armitage Alphabet, with “A is for Action” • Links to all FanstRA 3 posts appear here at the end of each day!
F3 core, Day One:
mulubinba on the significance of locations in North & South • bccmee interviews the parents of the child actor Armitage worked with Captain America • CDoart on Armitage’s interest in history • fitzg (guesting at Confessions of a Watcher) excavates a review by a London reporter of a Paris art exhibit • RAFrenzy highlights the structure of the event • Nat with an Armitage quiz • Traxy on Armitage as inspiration and Gently Go Man • Fanny ranks her Top Ten AU fanvids • and Jonia‘s got a downloadable Armitage game! • Links to all FanstRA 3 posts appear here at the end of each day!
Mezz appeared on my blog last fall, with a confession that she’d been overwhelmed by Armitagemania and an accompanying flood of interesting comments. She quickly assimilated into the crowd, fitting right in with the combination of reflection, humor, and downright objectification that commentators bring to this blog, and urging others onward. Mezz is a careful thinker, and although she will tell you she’s not introspective, it’s nonetheless clear that she’s put some effort into thinking about her reasons for her attitudes and responses as a fan. More than anything, I think, she’s a balanced fan who’s got perspective on what Armitagemania means in her life and has used it to her own creative advantage and to support others — but she also admits that she was brought to tears by the glimpses of Mr. Armitage in the Cats rehearsal videos. I always know that a comment from Mezz will make sense and put things in perspective. At some point she mentioned in a comment that she’d thought about her Richard Armitage epiphany and wanted to write about it, but didn’t have a place. I proposed a guest post here, and as such projects do, it then turned into an interview for a fan showcase, and then into a FanstRAvaganza 3 post!
The moment Mezz fell in love – but only the second time: Harry Kennedy (Richard Armitage) pokes his head through the door of Sleepy Cottage in Vicar of Dibley: The Handsome Stranger. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com
Servetus: What was your first exposure to Richard Armitage?
Mezz: My memory, not great to start with, has never been the same since menopause, so recollections of early exposure are hazy! It’s a standing joke in our house that if something’s missing, it’s in one of Mum’s “safe” places. Translation: she can’t remember where she put it!
I had been a big fan of The Vicar of Dibley while it was in production, and I loved it when Geraldine met and married her “handsome stranger.” Harry was lovely, but no lightning bolt struck. Same with the 2006 BBC Robin Hood. Guy of Gisborne was good looking, with a great body, but I found myself strangely irritated by his incompetence and clumsy swordplay. He was a numpty, as fedoralady says. It was such a contradiction: Guy looked like a warrior but got beaten in every fight. It hacked me off when he killed Marian at the end of series 2, and I barely watched the third until episode 9, in which Guy meets Meg in prison. For some reason, that episode remains clear in my mind, though I didn’t even get to see it all the way through. I had to drop my son off at a social event and by the time I returned home, the show was over. It seems the “new” Guy had lodged himself in my head, however, and my curiosity about the end of RH 3.9 led me to youtube, where I filled in the missing pieces. The scene where Guy tenderly cradles a dying Meg was a revelation. I also discovered Gisborne fanvids. A slow Internet connection and limited downloads restricted me to occasional viewings. But I was finally starting to take notice!
S: And when did the lightning bolt strike?
Mezz: When I bought the Dibley boxed set, I went straight to the last two episodes, because I had discovered that the same actor played Guy and Harry. The second time, I fell in love with Harry the minute he opened the door of Sleepy Cottage: that gorgeous smile, his obviously sweet nature, and of course, his good looks. By the time he uttered the words, “Well, there you go,” I was totally smitten. His voice just finished me off.
Proximate cause of Mezz’s Armitagemania: Guy of Gisborne (Richard Armitage) holds Meg (Holliday Grainger) as she dies in Robin Hood 3.9. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com
S: What did the lightning bolt feel like?
Mezz: It was as if I was really seeing Richard for the first time, and I was consumed by the need to find out more about him. Armitagemania hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks. I experienced an overwhelming surge of emotion: admiration, appreciation, love, and yes, downright lust. After nearly thirty years, Pierce Brosnan was no longer my number one crush.
S: Poor Pierce. And then?
Mezz: I had so much catching up to do! After Dibley came Robin Hood. I couldn’t believe I had dismissed Guy so easily. The sheer sex appeal of the man turned me inside out. I also started to see beyond the surly malevolence and the incompetence to the lost soul inside, yearning for love and security; it was then I started to gain a real appreciation of the actor behind the character. I became so emotionally invested in Guy that I cried when he was killed. (I still get tearful when I watch that scene.) In quick succession I bought Spooks (saw series 9 on TV and haven’t been able to watch it since; the Bateman episodes remain untouched), North & South, Between the Sheets, Moving On, Sparkhouse and The Impressionists. I rented Miss Marie Lloyd and others where he had a guest appearance, and saw some on YT, such as The Golden Hour.
S: And your favorites?
Mezz: I simply can’t choose! Mr. Thornton and Lucas North quickly joined Harry and Guy as beloved characters. After Strike Back screened, I was a goner for John Porter as well. I have a soft spot for Claude Monet, despite the dodgy hair. I bought all the audiobooks, downloaded Clarissa and every MP3 interview out there onto my iPod, and read everything about Richard that I could find. A new laptop and faster Internet connection eased my search for everything Armitage; then I moved to the major fan websites, and finally I discovered blogs. A whole new world opened up for me. I was lurking for some time before I found the courage to post a comment about six months ago, so here I am and I’ve never looked back!
I asked Mezz to identify scenes from Armitage’s work that she finds particularly memorable.
Mezz: The list is endless! My automatic response is to go with obvious ones (the N&S train station scene or Harry and Geraldine’s discussion of wedding plans). Instead, I’ve chosen two that show Richard pulling off two completely disparate characters, because they evoke such strong feelings in me. The first is the scene in Spooks 8.4 in which Lucas attempts to hang himself, only to be saved by Oleg Darshavin.
Mezz: Richard has said there were no script or stage directions, just “Lucas tries to hang himself,” and he had to find the place in his own head to understand how someone comes to a point where he feels he has no other option. There is no dialogue, just a grimy, cold, austere set. Richard’s powerful portrayal of a dirty, shivering Lucas, and his desperate, tortured state of mind, breaks my heart every time I see it.
S: What kept you watching and made you a fan?
Mezz: Two things. I’m sure they are true for many others as well. First, Richard’s amazing talent. Showcased in various roles, he’s created characters that I became emotionally invested in. I was drawn in by his ability to inhabit a character fully, giving a layered, nuanced performance. It’s been suggested he has been typecast, as Lucas North and John Porter are both action heroes, for example, but there could be no confusing the two in my mind. Richard developed two distinctly different characters, each with his own endearing qualities and flaws. Second, discovering the personality behind the actor. I’m going with my gut instinct. Based on interviews, and what his acting colleagues have said, he appears to be a genuinely lovely man: decent, modest, thoughtful, and intelligent with a delightful sense of humor and a terrific work ethic. I love that he researches his roles so thoroughly, with a keen attention to detail, that he develops his own backstory for each character, and that he asks questions. He shows respect for each character and production, regardless of its merits, by being a total professional, committed wholly to his craft.
S: As you were exposed to Armitage a few times before lightning struck, what do you suppose made you ready for this particular fascination at this time?
Mezz: I’ve never been one for heavy introspection, so coming to any kind of conclusion has been difficult. I’ve given up on solving the “why Richard Armitage?” puzzle. The man, the actor, and his characters are reasons enough. So the question for me is why now, when nothing happened earlier. Even when I finally noticed him, it was still a slow burn. I retired a few years ago, because the time felt right. I didn’t find joy in teaching any longer, and I have an elderly parent who needs me on a regular basis. I had no regrets; I love being my own boss, free of school bells and session times! I knew it was important to keep busy, and lined up lots of activities. Renovating our house has taken time and attention, and my husband and I have traveled overseas. My life is blessed with wonderful family and friends and good health, but although I didn’t realize it at the time, in hindsight I had started to drift through the weeks and months, up until just over a year ago. Discovering Richard opened up a whole new world for me.
Asked for a second memorable scene from Armitage’s work, Mezz turned to a character that provokes an equally strong but opposite emotional reaction in her: Claude Monet in The Impressionists.
Mezz: In the scene from episode 2, where Monet runs outside to greet the sunrise and turns his face to the light, I’m always captivated by the joyfulness and wonderment of his expression. Richard has been described as incandescent in this role, and I can’t think of a more appropriate word for his performance. He is mesmerizing.
S: Both scenes you chose as particularly evocative omit dialogue. Do you experience a particularly strong response to Armitage’s gestures or physicality as opposed to his spoken acting?
Mezz: Now you’ve got me thinking! I hadn’t made that connection. There’s no denying how much Richard’s beautiful, rich baritone affects me. In RH 2.8, for example, Marian scolds Guy for his intention to visit her at Ripley Convent, where he thinks she’s taken refuge. His response, a bone-melting “You knew I would,” makes my stomach hit the floor every time I hear him say it. His audiobook characters are an absolute delight. However, for me the heart of Richard’s talent is his extraordinary ability to convey thoughts and feelings without words, in his facial expressions and in his body language. Smoldering, tender, vulnerable, tormented, malevolent, even comical: he moves between emotions so seamlessly. He can make me smile, cry, hurt for him and lust after him without uttering a word. That’s what draws me to watch his performances repeatedly: I discover something new every time.
S: On to Mezz. You’ve reported that Richard Armitage’s main effect on you has been a surge in creativity. What are you doing, and how is it affecting your daily life? Are further developments in store?
Mezz: I have been introduced to books I would not have read otherwise, such as Bernard Cornwell’s The Saxon Chronicles, of which Lords of the North is the third installment, and I continue to discover new music in fanvids or blogs. Spending hours gazing at pictures, reading fanfic and newspaper articles, or watching dvds and vids is not exactly highbrow stuff, but the resulting surge in my creativity has turned into a course of action. It’s been more than twenty years since I took art classes, but I have started to draw again. Prior to my RAdmiration, I had given passing thoughts to doing so with no real enthusiasm. I’m still just having a play with pencils and charcoal, but I have bought new paints and hopefully in time I will feel confident enough to put them to canvas again.
How Mezz will always remember Lucas North: “Richard’s stunning features are so clearly defined here, but, as always with Lucas, so much more goes on behind his eyes.” Richard Armitage as Lucas North in a promotional photo for series 7 of Spooks. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com
S: You’re still undercover, though. Has anyone noticed?
Mezz: (Grins.) My husband has been encouraging me all the way; every week he has bought one or two art supplies for me. He has no idea, though, about the catalyst! He recently noticed me on an RA website, asked me what it was, and I told him airily I was fangirling. He looked a little bemused and retreated from the room, so my cover isn’t blown just yet (laughs)! My family would be stunned if they found out the truth: that their tech-hopeless, webphobic mother / wife / sister is making fanvids and posting them on YT and taking part in blogs. Commenting has been good for me. It makes me think, and my writing skills need the practice. Plus, it’s great fun, and if I didn’t have the outlet for talking about Richard and how I feel, I would go crazy! I always enjoyed creative rather than analytical writing at school, and a little niggle in my brain is urging me to have a go at fanfic.
S: Some people say fandom eats time with no benefit.
Mezz: (Grins, again!). Armitagemania has given me a sense of purpose with the creativity it has reawakened, creating a joy and a passion in me that have flowed into all corners of my life. I don’t feel as if I am drifting any more. Yes, I need to be careful some days that the RA-related activities don’t take over. Sometimes it’s difficult to strike a balance, when all I want to do is sit and look at him! When that threatens, I put earbuds in and go for a walk or do housework / ironing. That way I’m accomplishing something but I can still listen to him on my iPod!
S: Thanks for taking the time with the interview. I’m looking forward to that fanfic!
Mezz reports of herself: I am a happily married, retired teacher in my mid-fifties. I love Richard Armitage (obviously!), chocolate, shoes, a good laugh and a decent chick flick. I’m not into Twitter or Facebook, am scared of heights, lack social confidence, am a hopeless cook, and can often be found working in the garden or with my nose in a book — when I’m not at my laptop.
[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, Jane (part 1, part 2, part 3), and Prue Batten (part 1, part 2, part 3). 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]
A reminder to continue your F3 reading with F3 tagteams, Day One: To kick off the fandom chain, Didion converts friends to Armitage love • Phylly3 reports on her fandom experiences • In the Hobbit chain, Ana Cris writes on her recent film location visit • Mrs. E.B. Darcy speculates about what our hero will do in An Unexpected Journey (spoilers!) • King Richard Armitage chain begins with Maria Grazia on a film adaptation of Richard III • Beginning the fanfic chain, fedoralady explains fanfic’s mainstream appeal • In the freeform chain, Fabo files an eyewitness report on Richard Armitage’s visit to U.S. accent school • jazzbaby1 wonders “what were they thinking?” re: Lucas North’s women • and ChrisB opens the Armitage Alphabet, with “A is for Action” • Links to all FanstRA 3 posts appear here at the end of each day!