Armitage takes Australia: Goodbye to “precious” Richard?

[I realize this is likely to be controversial. Keep in mind — my interpretation, my opinion. Your mileage may vary. A reminder to us all “to be kind.”]

I owe the expression “precious Armitage” to Jazzbaby1 and Jas Rangoon.

Regarding my view of tropes in understanding and explaining Richard Armitage, see here. I simply insert the term below without explanation.

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aap-6-edit[Left: Richard Armitage as photographed in Sydney by Tracey Nearmy, end of April, 2013. The photo’s still eye-popping, even after days of looking at it. Source.]

I can’t help but think we’re getting spoiled by Richard Armitage’s increasing visibility when we start wondering about his whereabouts after only a month and a half. (No doubt everyone will be very relieved to know, once filming resumes in Wellington, exactly where he is for ten weeks.) Armitage had been seen in London the first week of March, 2013, for the DVD release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. After the initial burst of news and pictures, segments of material recorded that week trickled out in subsequent weeks. A candid photo of Armitage was tweeted from Todd Snyder’s studio on April 17, but he remained (to my knowledge) unsighted apart from that. So his scheduled appearance in Sydney on April 29-May 1, 2013 offered Armitage fans a welcome “Richard recharge.”

Most felicitously, from my perspective, Sydney gave us Richard Armitage by himself, not as one of a group of Hobbit headliners. I wasn’t forced to give time to people who are not my crush in order to enjoy the pleasures of an at best limited Armitage uptake. In contrast to London, which meant frustrating bits and pieces over time, Sydney was Richard Armitage straight, uncut with James Nesbit. Sydney gave me Richard Armitage, pure and delicious.

mXnewspaper[Right: From the same photoshoot as above. See Guylty’s response here. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com]

Since Armitage is not the main attraction for all of the film’s fans, I admit to curiosity about planned staffing for these promotional photo ops. What’s the rationale behind a solo appearance (besides marketing)? Are other actors from the film doing these promotional events (in Armitage’s case, Toronto as well) by themselves as well? Is this a sign that the marketing people think Armitage is enough of a draw by himself that he doesn’t need to appear in a group? Was it a Richard Armitage who’s admitted the exhausting qualities of publicity practicing the media ropes course all by himself in a relatively friendly place? Was it, as some fans have speculated, a kind gesture toward Australian fans, who did not get a glimpse of him at a gala premiere event? An attempt to make The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey a stronger sale to “serious” film fans via the Popcorn Taxi venue and thus strengthen Armitage’s “artist” credentials? I don’t know — and while the answers to these questions would interest me, I’m commenting less on that today that on on my general impressions of Armitage in Australia.

Personally: The whirlwind tour of local media to mark the Australian release of the DVD leaves me with unbridled good feelings about Armitage. I liked the Richard Armitage we saw and heard from in Sydney. So did fans — tumblr exploded with ecstatic reports from fans on things that were said — and we’re grateful to them, as it looks like the material we ultimately receive from Popcorn Taxi is likely to be scrubbed of things Armitage fans might want to know badly, but its editors consider irrelevant. A number of tweeted candids showed Armitage with his now well-known “fan candid” expression — betraying no discomfort with the genre or the practice. I particularly liked one that showed him with his left leg extended — trying once again to minimize the height difference between himself and the rest of the adoring world? It was interesting to observe the panorama of reports from different fans and the diverse elements they emphasized. As a historian, the evaluation of evidence in service of the reconstruction of “what happened” is my stock in trade, but nothing has taught me more convincingly that events are created by their observers than my own experiences observing our fandom observe Richard Armitage.

Merilyn-02[Right: Armitage in charge and absorbed at the Popcorn Taxi Q & A in Sydney, May 1, 2013. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com]

I have nothing to add on the data collection point. In watching the available video, I thought microexpressions occasionally betrayed him as a bit tired — but given the stresses of jetlag on top of the pressure of being “on” all day, that’s unsurprising. Most notably, even as he appeared the most sovereign and in control of the interview situations in which he appeared that he ever has — who would have imagined the at times apparently diffident Richard Armitage of 2007 talking shyly to Lorraine about Guy of Gisborne managing forty minutes of Q & A with open questions from the audience on his own with such physical aplomb? — the possibility that he might have been overwhelmed by some of the publicity tasks set for him again humanized him and made him familiar to us.

The strongest note of the events for me (not having seen the Popcorn Taxi footage in full yet, of course), however, was a lighthearted, youthful, hilarious — I suppose some people might say “juvenile” — Armitage who’s rarely been so visible in recent years as he was in Sydney. The Richard Armitage on view and on air in Sydney joked about the middle name, “freakin’,” offered details of a potentially disgusting “signature dish,” and admitted under pressure from a host but even so, with laughter, that he knew how to light farts on fire. He claimed he’d asked to ski down a New Zealand mountain while costumed as Thorin Oakenshield, asserted that Thorin would beat Dwalin in a cage fight, joked suggestively about his appearance in a pseudo-pornographic dwarf gift calendar, looked at Thorin fan art without cringing (too much, anyway), hugged a Kermit the Frog doll, and let a fan touch his beard. All the while, he appeared convincingly to enjoy himself with an aplomb and lack of restraint that we have rarely seen from him.

handI keep writing “rarely” here because one of the things my rereading of Armitage’s early personal messages to fans and the early media trail as I write the “My Richard Armitage” series has revealed is that at the beginning of his career, he did show all these elements of boyish humor, particularly in radio interviews. Remember the Richard Armitage who joked that he didn’t have to research kicking people, admitted that he picked his nose, said, “Cheers, mate!” to a radio host who told he was especially fit, said that he didn’t like to see audiences hatchet-faced in response to acting in serious stage productions, “honked” about songs he liked or didn’t like, and so on? Remember the novice with the fans who joked about looking like Brad Pitt? And even slightly later made jokes about being arrested at a Hungarian sausage counter? Once upon a time, there was a Richard Armitage who liked to have fun at least some of the time, and managed to convey that aspect of his personality quite successfully. But the North & South juggernaut, as it took on speed and caused the press to pay attention, invested many of us increasingly in a more serious Armitage, one who was above all modest, artistic, cultured, shy, and oblivious to or seriously uncomfortable with his personal appeal. And when Armitage agreed, in 2009, with journalists who asked him about his very vocal fandom, that fans could be out there, to the extent that he felt the need to apologize for misunderstandings and restate his gratefulness to the fans who supported his career, and then stated in spring of 2010 that he had perhaps gotten too involved with his fans, concerned people in our ranks concluded that perhaps Armitage might even prefer us to ignore him.

Beard touch1Now, these personality elements are not mutually exclusive — it’s possible to be both serious, virtuous, and reserved and lighthearted, youthful, and hilarious (or juvenile) all at once. But it can be a hard series of personality features to navigate in public for fans, particularly when fans or segments of fans are demanding evidence for their specific worldviews and when there’s no “whole Richard” to stack up the little data bits against for comparison. The problem with press and the Internet as a whole is that they, and we, magnify a particular impression in the echo chambers of our minds as we talk it over with no data to question our perceptions. In the end, the data that created the impression in the first place is all we have access to and the outliers and potential counter-data have to be hypothesized. This effect is no less true of me than it is of others. I do not hide the fact that I prefer a competent, adult, open Richard Armitage who may occasionally stray over the line of taste for some segments of his audience to someone feels obligated to hide every moment of his humor or every potentially questionable moment in his personality for fear of causing offense. I imagine that kind of pressure on a personality to be horrid; but I also did not believe that Armitage was really suffering from it unreasonably. I, like many fans, was highly frustrated two years ago with the increasing pressure inside segments of the fandom to make Armitage into a world-foreign creature who didn’t really known how to deal with fans, fame, career, and possibly elements of his life, and thus needed us to stay away. So happily, in my view, the “stay away from Armitage” trope seems to have been somewhat dampened by all the pleasant candids and Armitage / fan photos we’ve been privileged to see since the end of November, 2012.

photoThe picture from Sydney was consistent with those photos and with the general impression, growing since then, of an Armitage at ease with himself, enjoying himself in public, and willing to say something things that are not either incredibly polite or hopelessly prescripted. While fan response to the stylist’s clothing choices for him at the Popcorn Taxi event were mixed, in at least some of the pictures that appeared, the choicke of a grey t-shirt and leather jacket suggested he was wearing clothes in a style he’d pick out for himself. Of course, we only know Armitage as he appears in these media settings, which makes it extremely hard to judge when he might be teasing us, however gently, either with his clothes or with his words. It’s not that no serious interviews appeared from Sydney — those were in evidence as well, and there was plenty of personal fodder for the fan of “Serious Armitage” as well, particularly the mention of fan sites that he slyly suggested give him book tips (C19, I’m looking at you), and the signals that he’s hoping to do a less effect-laden film, possibly from literature. (I admit — I’d love to see him do a literature-based film, but at the same time, I hear him say “LITracher” in his English accent in my mind and have to suppress my silly Yankee kneejerk giggle. So who’s juvenile now? Juvenile Armitage for a juvenile fan like me.) I left these interviews again feeling like I had an idea of things that were important to Armitage as an artist and an actor and a human being — hard work, knowing the source (Tolkien), cooperation with an excellent director and cooperation with one’s colleagues.

Screen shot 2013-05-08 at 2.41.37 PM[Left: Richard Armitage as he actually dresses? Photographed by Tracey Nearmy, Sydney, 2013. Source: RichardArmitageNet]

Moreover, the framework always affects the results of such interviews. It’s possibly easier to let down social inhibitions and joke on radio, not only because one is not seen by most of the audience, but also because the fading of FM as a format in the face of new music delivery systems means that DJs all over the world are speaking more and more outrageously in order to sustain ratings. (Last year, roughly around the time of the Hobbit royal premiere, events at an Australian radio made its hosts questionable “stars” in this development.) Perhaps it’s Australians themselves, who have a reputation in the U.S. as being more relaxed, more open, more willing to be edgy and blunt, and not afraid of saying things that might be considered raw in other settings. I remember thinking as I listened to this radio segment that the interviewers were getting more out of him because they were significantly less serious than their UK counterparts have been. Also: less professional and/or less polite, as some Australian fans have said, who found aspects of this media blitz embarrassing to their national reputation. No way to please everyone, I suppose. (For what it’s worth, Australian readers, I left this week behind me liking Australians even more than I had before.)

vlcsnap-2013-05-03-18h48m19s209I can’t leave out another possibility, of course — that we saw another visage of chameleon Armitage, that just as Armitage has worked to give directors and co-stars and audiences and fans what they needed from him over the years, he responds to the cues and prompts of the people he finds himself with. Interviewers who want serious Armitage get serious Armitage; those who want funny Armitage get funny Armitage (though he doesn’t see himself as funny, apparently); those who want virtuous Armitage get that one; and interviewers who ask him to quiz on Tolkien characters vs. IKEA furniture get the witty, quick, joking man who sounds ten to fifteen years younger than his chronological age. If you ask Richard Armitage the “people pleaser” to say his line this way, he’ll try; If you ask him to teach you how to walk like a dwarf, he’ll comply as well. All of these things are real within Armitage — and at the same time, the requests of his interlocutors call particular combinations of them forth. This time, in Australia, the request was for youthful, funny, irreverent Richard.

Naturally, this post offers a provisional comment on two days in a particular week in the life of someone who I observe via quickly opening and closing windows created for me by professional commodifiers, and only at a very, very great distance. Synecdoche is going wild here. Still, I’ve thought for some time that a lot of the various shadings of personality we perceive in these publicity appearances — elements that make Richard Armitage the actor and the person so intriguing to think about — result from the possibility that like the personalities of the characters he builds, Richard Armitage is possessed of strongly contradictory elements inside himself. I’ve also thought that an actor’s identity is potentially necessarily more fluid than that of someone like me and perhaps Richard Armitage’s identity is unusually porous precisely so that he can accommodate the necessary perception of the world to feed his creative work. Those are themes for another day in the continuing parsing of possible answers to the question, “Who was / is Richard Armitage?” But whatever the factors that combined to give us such a pleasant press junket, this latest permutation of Armitage was one I found tremendously likeable. If I were going to be cynical, I’d say: This is one you can sell, marketers.

If I were going to be more serious, like the people I cited at the beginning of this post, I’d be delighted if the Sydney events squelched the “precious Armitage” trope in the same way that spontaneous fan candids have silenced, at least for now, the “stay away from Armitage” trope. If the moments of a youthful, lighthearted funny guy that we saw were pieces of a less cautious Richard Armitage peaking out — I can only encourage him to continue. Not because I’m looking for someone “more real,” and I certainly don’t want to encourage a performance of something that’s not there — but because I never believed in “precious Armitage” as it was articulated in the fandom, and because it seems to me the pressure to be that particular Armitage might be an unnecessarily heavy burden to place on our crush, heavier than the burden of admitting he laughs over horse poo, as he did long ago, anyway.

If I were going to say something to the man directly: Armitage has talked about the three hundred mile stare (? am I getting that right?) in the past. This is a nine-thousand mile grin from me, Mr. Armitage, if you’re still Down Under. Wherever you are, whoever you are, however, I hope you’re feeling it, too. You seemed real this week, Mr. Armitage, as real as you’ve ever seemed or could seem in this strange, echoing, virtual world we inhabit together.

~ by Servetus on May 8, 2013.

87 Responses to “Armitage takes Australia: Goodbye to “precious” Richard?”

  1. Loved this! RA is multi-faceted individual just like the rest of us. And I like easy going, confident, and funny Armitage, too. Ha!

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  2. I think it would be perfectly natural for him as an actor and as someone highly in tune to making others comfortable that he would discern the tone of each interview experience and modify himself accordingly. Each is a performance, each a slightly different audience. But that doesn’t mean he’s being artificial in the least. He has different sides, all are genuine. Don’t we all? I love seeing serious and light-hearted Armitage. Teenage-humor or pub humor is the only thing that I could do without. But hey, he’s a guy. That often comes with the territory. He’s real.

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    • you would be surprised what a matter of controversy this issue has been 🙂

      I actually find the fact of teenager and/or pub humor (I’m only guessing at what you mean by those) comforting — not so much because I necessarily would love the humor; maybe there are things he thinks are funny that I’d find reprehensible, who knows, humor can be dangerous — mostly because it makes him seem less perfect.

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      • I’m speaking of the humor that is gross or lewd. It gets weary pretty quickly for me. But I don’t mind an occasional interjection of it, just not a constant stream.
        Controversy? I suppose it would come from trying to box him up in some idealized form. We may all do that to some degree – form our own concepts of who he is based on our own tastes, wants, experiences, and proclivities.
        Let’s just say that I don’t recall him saying or doing anything that has really turned me off.
        Btw, does anyone know for sure if he’s kicked the smoking habit? I can’t imagine it fits with his athletic training and emphasis on physique since N&S.

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        • I don’t think there’s any definitive evidence in any direction. In December he said something about “striking a match” (I think on his stubble) and having “a cigarette later” but it could easily have been facetious.

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        • I don’t mind humour that is naughty, what I do mind is humour that is hurtful to others, and I don’t see him using his wit as a weapon. I have never seen him laughing in a mean way about others, only ever with them, or about himself.

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        • I probably should say — and I’m not saying you were implying this, I’m just saying I should say this to have said it in case I’m misunderstood, I didn’t mean to imply that Armitage’s humor has no boundaries at all. If he is lewd in private, I doubt he’d ever be lewd in public (raised right, apparently). And the kinds of humor that I would find offensive (racist, e.g.) seem to be unlikely given other things he’s said.

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      • stuff like this reminds me he IS a guy, most of whom are still 12 years old somewhere inside, and that must be unleashed now and again. I rather like it when the little boy inside my 53 year old hubby comes out to play, frankly. I hope he–and RA–never lose that naughty twinkle in their respective blue eyes. 😉

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        • for some reason (I’ve been pondering that for a while) it’s been easy for fans to forget he is a guy.

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          • Maybe because he is also so attractive and polite and such a professional? But as you say, he’s multi-faceted. Even guys who know tricks with lighters can be all those things. 😉 Nobody should put RA in a box–or a corner, right?

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  3. What disgusting ‘signature dish’?

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    • Tuna, pasta, and mayo I assume 🙂

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      • Indeed. Which I don’t think is that bad, if you have a decent quality mayo and don’t glob it on there 🙂

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        • Well, in Italy we do a similar dish: cold pasta (al dente, please), tuna, mayo, boiled eggs, vegetables pickled in oil… You can do it with pasta or rice. It’s very refreshing during summer days and a whole well balanced meal. You can use olive oil instead of mayo if you prefer. Very nice dish you can prepare, stock in your fridge and eat returning from the beach! Or after a hot working day… 😉

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          • yeah, we were talking about this elsewhere — almost every country has a variation on tuna noodles. His description was what made it sound awful — cook pasta, open a tin of tuna into it, and add mayonnaise …

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        • The key is good mayo and not overdoing it. I love a good cold pasta salad myself. And don’t turn up my nose at tuna, either. 😉

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          • a variation on this was the only thing my mom wanted to eat the day after chemo …

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            • Hey, if it works for you, go for it, I say. There’s much worse things one could eat. I eat tuna with chopped apples from time to time, something I got from my college roomie. Benny gags, but I like it!

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  4. I am happy to see the sometimes “irreverent” and relaxed Armitage back!!! I am much impressed by his knowledge of IKEA! I believe that humorous (I don’t like the word juvenile) Armitage exists happily with serious and reserved Armitage. We all have many “selves”. Lets not put him in a box.

    Glad to also see him once in a while “un-styled”. I love all the Armitages – all of them.

    Thank you for a great essay.

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    • I was around at the time we got those silly and funny messages and we loved him for them. It was only much later that some people even questioned that the serious and reserved guy they knew had written them.

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      • yeah, I didn’t totally get why some people ignored those early msgs (or didn’t take them seriously) but i guess people absorb what they need to absorb (true of me, too) and some people needed him to be serious.

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    • Thanks, Fabo — I agree. Let’s not put him in a box. He’s much more interesting when he’s out of it!

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  5. I think you hit the nail on the head with the theme of a multi faceted RA. In fact, I think all of humanity is multi faceted. And since RA is, presumably, human, it is no surprise that he can be both sensitive and silly, grouchy and light-hearted. And having reached the ripe age of 40/41, he is feeling more and more comfortable in his own skin, which is what I think is shining through currently.

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    • Agree.

      I was wondering while writing this piece about how much our impressions of him get distorted simply by rhetoric. i always tell my students when they’re writing that they should concentrate on emphasizing ONE point. If journalists are trying to create one coherent impression in an article, they’re sor tof messing with us perceptively from the beginning.

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    • Well said Chaifreak 🙂 BTW, he is 42 (nearly) *smirk*

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  6. I can’t help but feel that he is in a good place right now, personally and professionally. The first wave of publicity, the euphoria mixed with concern when the movie was released, must have been stressful. I think it was James Nesbitt who said he enjoyed the second wave of PR (promoting the DVD) much more, because the movie has done well enough and people enjoyed it.

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  7. RA in Australia has been a complete joy to me and I’m wondering if he knows what FISH! Philosophy is.

    Be there.
    Play.
    Make their day.
    Choose your attitude.

    I’d say he was a grand master at this…and most probably quite naturally.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FISH!_philosophy

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    • I wasn’t familiar with the concept, but it’s very similar to what the most successful teachers I know do as well. My TA said to me, I can’t believe how cheerful you are with them some days when they are absolute idiots, and my response has always been, that’s my choice. I am responsible for the atmosphere in this room for 75 minutes and I choose how I’m going to feel about it. I can imagine that would be a helpful attitude for dealing with press, too.

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  8. Thanks Servetus for this precious summery of Richard „being all by himself“. This will probably help me, to find a possible access to the whirlwind of emotions, and all those random thoughts that have accured, when they recently so abundantly poured (an overload of information and pictures) a cornucopia of Armitage upon me/us.
    I really had to laugh when you wrote, that we at least will be relieved to know that RA for a fact exactly resides in Wellington for 10 weeks as from the end of May. 😉 (Du kennst deine Pappenheimer!!)
    He not only took Australia, but all of us in his stride. No kidding, who could resist such a ravishing, charming, witty, and spirited human being? Reading some of the stuff could even give the impression as to receive again on of this funny past messages he used to write years ago.
    BTW I’m with Faboamanto here: Glad to see him once in a while “un-styled” and I LOVE ALL the Armitages – all of them (even if the more „fluid ones“ can be a bit unsettling at times!!). 🙂

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    • I feel like one thing about this particular phase was that while there was a lot of information it was actually easily processable (I’m still struggling with the December materials).

      I also felt like we were seeing an Armitage from 2004/5 again and loved it.

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  9. The Australia features were indeed charming! The impression was of one who had become very much bien dans sa peau. Certainly, part of his talent as an actor appears to be a sensitivity to people within a specific environment (thinking partly of interviews and interviewers), and natural adaptation to this. And he listens. And presumably unconsciously absorbs body language messages and reacts in response.

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    • I should also possibly clarify — of course the process of responding to others is something we all do daily and a skill that actors work to cultivate. What I’m saying a bit with the “chameleon” remark is that he’s described himself as eager to please, and that impression is particularly strong here. It adds energy to these performances. He seems to have little investment in a “self” in the sense that he creates the impression that he’s doing a lot of work to maintain its boundaries. If he forgets himself and just responds, he achieves this sort of witty — I find myself thinking of the German word “schlagfertig” — effect.

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  10. A really great post with lots of interesting insights! I thought he looked wonderfully relaxed and happy from all I’ve seen – and heard – of his time in Australia. Perhaps he also feels the more relaxed attitude of Australians to be more in tune with what he enjoyed in NZ. Kiwis are also well known for being laid back and he must really have felt at home when he has said he’d like to buy a house there. Having been in NZ twice, I can see what the attraction is. I honestly didn’t want to leave the place!

    As to his style of clothes; I have never been one to “get my knickers in a twist” as they say, about what he chooses to wear or not. I hope I don’t come over as being in APM in any way, shape or form, as this is NOT my intention, but I sometimes just want to say to those who get hot and bothered by some of his choices, “Leave the guy alone.” Of *course* I think he looks better in some things than others, but he is a grown man and surely is more than entitled to wear whatever he wants whether his stylist chose it or not. Does he really have to be thinking as he dresses, “Are my fans going to like me in this?” I sure hope not! How many times have people said he could wear a burlap sack and they wouldn’t care? Apparently many do! 🙂

    Maybe this is another reason he likes being “Down Under”. Perhaps they are not so hung up on such things as many of us seem to be!

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    • I think it’s fascinating to talk about his clothes (and there’s another interesting history chapter to write about their evolution), but I don’t think the entree of the stylist is so much about pleasing his fans — he knows his fans (basically) love him by now, I hope — but about the impression he creates for people who are not his fans but might be.

      Probably Australians have their hangups too — just in different places 🙂

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      • Too right mate! 😉 Sorry! I was trying to sound like some of my dear Aussie friends!! 😀

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  11. Thank you, Servetus, for such a thoughtful essay on Armitage in Australia. Despite being far, far away, you’ve caught the mood of his Sydney sojourn exactly. I was in Sydney the week he was there and it made my spirits soar to see him having such a good time, being playful and generous with the Australian media, who are mostly a friendly bunch (I should know — I’m one of them), and handling with aplomb the fact that interest in him is at an all-time high. At the Q&A he made a vast gathering in a 700-seat cinema seem cosy and intimate, and we hung on his every word, spellbound.
    Oh, and the weather was glorious, too.
    I do hope RA demands to come back to Australia when the next Hobbit publicity round is ready to roll. His grace, charm and eloquence during that precious week must have won him masses more fans in this part of the world.

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    • Bravo, Servetus!! I agree with everything you said and you said it so well! I agree he may mould himself into whatever “Armitage” is apprpriate for the given circumstances, but I also suspect (and hope) that his behavior mostly refects that he is happy.

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    • Thanks for the kind words, groovergreen. If he can have another few days like that I want him to go back to Australia as well!

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  12. This whole “precious Armitage” notion is quite condescending when you think about it.

    So yes, it is good to see more facets of him. Whoa, he almost looks & sounds like any other! 😉

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  13. Excelent reading:) Thanks Servetus.

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  14. What a wonderful insightful read that was- thank you Servetus. I had been thinking earlier that after such an avalanche of new interviews I wished to somehow get perspective on the whole experience and that’s exactly what you’ve done.
    I think it’s true, as someone else mentioned, that the pressure was off to some extent as far as promoting The Hobbit was concerned and RA felt freed up to be more relaxed in his approach to each round of questioning.

    Prior to the Popcorn Taxi event I spent some time musing to myself what I would ask RA if I chose to take up the opportunity. Had I put up my hand (the Q & A could have gone for hours judging by the number of hands in the air), I would have asked how the experience of filming The Hobbit had changed his perception of himself as an actor and whether it had an affect on the kind of career he now wishes to pursue. Would he be happy to undertake press junkets of this kind in the future on a semi regular basis, or is it his love for Tolkien that has sustained him through so many repetitive interviews? Whatever the case, I’ll be forever grateful that he chose to come and spend time with us in Sydney.

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  15. Richard came, he saw, he conquered. I think any of those Aussie media folks not already a fan of Mr. A, after this, they are now! Gorgeous, funny, smart, engaging, thoughtful, generous, talented, modest, silly, sexy, nice–I loves him! Keep conquering the world, RA, and thanks for just being YOU–in all your many facets!
    And thank you Serv for another great essay. 😀

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  16. Thanks Servetus for another insightful essay. I think Popcorn Taxi might have been a bit surprised with the demographic of the audience, ie. overwhelmingly fans of Mr. A rather than Tokien / LoTR fans. (I know some are fans of both.) I hope the movie studios took/take note of RA’s marketability in being able to fill the 714 seat theatre.

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    • Hollywood has no idea what this man could do…

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    • There was a really rude (I thought) sign on the screen about no creepy gifts that suggested they were expecting Tolkien fans — I was not especially impressed with meta-stuff I’ve gathered from the event about their attitude toward fans. We do pay their salary.

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      • Yeah, I was wondering what “that” was all about. I mean, I know, RA has gotten some, uhm, unusual things in the mail but I haven’t known of fans inundating him with creepy gifts at public events. By and large, I think we are a pretty well-behaved bunch. And I am guessing RA fans (some of whom also happened to be Tolkien fans) filled most of those seats.

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        • That same sign up on the screen said “this is not a supercomiconovageddon convention.” From the little I’ve seen of those type of events they can be more “out there”. Popcorn Taxi has cultivated a different image for itself, IMO.

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          • OK, sort of like an “Inside the Actors Studio” event here in the states, then. Wouldn’t really expect any odd costumes or “creepy gifts” there, either.

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            • Yes, that’s more the kind of event I had in mind. How well-known does an actor have to be before they are invited onto that show? I would dearly love to see Richard make an appearance. His success at the Q&A tells me that he would nail it. 😀

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              • He’ll probably need to appear in a few more projects before he’d be invited. I think it would be a good fit, too.

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                • I’d love to see him on that program and agree he’d be a really good fit. Hopefully he’ll appear in at least a couple of movies soon as well as “Black Sky”. I believe such an audience would find him fascinating to listen to and he could certainly teach them a lot about his craft.

                  Now how about having him come via Western Canada at the end of his stay in NZ? A girl can dream can’t she? As others have recently proved, dreams can come true! 😉

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  17. Just good to see that he is in fact having fun and enjoying his much hard earned success. I think seeing anyone, whoever they are, regardless of what they do for a living, living comfortably in their own skin and enjoying life is a beautiful thing.

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  18. Maybe a Christmas release had something to do with it *blows raspberry* but whatever the reason was for Australia being overlooked during The Hobbit publicity and why it was decided that Richard would do the Q&A in Sydney, doesn’t matter in the face of the opportunity that so many of us had to see and hear him in person. What a gift. Forty minutes of him on his own, “pure and delicious.
    Thank you for a wonderful post, Serv. Like KatharineD, for me it has provided perspective on his Sydney visit, especially since I experienced it in such a whirlpool of emotion. I have loved all the facets of his personality revealed so far, they have played such a huge role in his attraction for me, but what I have seen in Sydney has had me tumbling all over again. I like to think that Australia has made him feel comfortable enough to relax a little, and I hope that he has enjoyed his time here enough to want to return. Fingers crossed. 🙂

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    • Thanks for the report, Mezz. It’s fascinating how moved everyone who saw him at that event has been — maybe I should reconsider my position that seeing him in the flesh isn’t that important.

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  19. A great post. Just to add and I have said it before, we don’t know the whole of anyone not even ourselves, because we are always changing. We all do in some part act, we act differently in different situations. Boys will be boys, my 45 year old BIL still goes “pull my finger” to my 12 and 14 year old’s, in some cases I don’t think BIL will grow all the way up even if he is a grandpa. I did enjoy last week even with lots of homework and a May snowstorm. It was great to see even more new pictures and the interviews.

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    • My cousin just posted a picture of her late mother on Mother’s Day, on the fishing opener, seated in front of a lake that still had ice on it. Somewhere in NE WI — not sure where. Hope it’s a bit warmer for you tomorrow.

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      • I don’t think it is to much more than low 50’s and no rain or snow. We had snow today again, nothing on the ground. Tuesday in the low 80’s. It has been a weird spring, if you want to call it that. Every Mother’s Day the boys get me flower plants and plant them for me, I told them maybe for Father’s Day this year.

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  20. Thanks for the analysis, Servetus! Not being a long time fan I didn’t experience first hand the different interpretations of Armitage over the years. But Sydney seems unprecedented to me in that it gave so many fans the chance to see him in RL and for more than a moment’s glimpse on the red carpet. There was a lot riding on this appearance for him. Being just himself, on his own, in front of so many people. And he aced it! What a triumph! I think it was really lucky that Meri & Bechep met him at the tv studio in the morning, and then they were right in front of him at the Q&A. I like to think that they put a human face on “THE FANS” for him and it was easier for him to be himself because he realized he was talking to people who really care about him. At least I like to think that. 😀

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    • Be happy that you’re unburdened 🙂

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    • As far as “human face” goes — I think the problem has been that the fans almost had too much of a human face from his perspective. He took his fans *very* seriously at the beginning, which worked when the fandom was tiny, but turned into a problem as it expanded. Lots of misunderstandings; he got pulled into fan disputes that he should have stayed out of; eventually it seemed like the contacts he had with fans were associated with negative emotions based on statements he made.

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  21. The whole ‘precious’ notion interests me, especially as a fan who is new to the whole concept of trawling the net for the latest info beyond sites like RAnet. I confess I was totally unaware of tumblr until recently and have found it fascinating.
    If long time fans are letting go of ‘precious’ Armitage, younger, more recent fans (ie Hobbit led) seem to be adopting this notion with a vengeance . I’m talking about women who are clearly in their early twenties who repeatedly describe RA as being cute and adorable- not words generally attributed to a 41 yo man. Is it his innate Britishness (reserve, politeness, self deprecation) that seem so out of step and unexpected in the sphere of movie actors and ‘celebrity’? Is it his willingness to talk about getting emotional about filming certain scenes which may seem inappropriate in an industry of alpha egos? Perhaps it’s his seeming lack of awareness of on line culture- the delightful ‘mime’ to counteract the ignorance of what a meme is.
    Whatever it may be, young women seem to be shaking their heads in wonder at this lovely man who seems to embody values and traits that are no longer seen as the norm in today’s world.

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    • Amen to that Katherine! Beautifully put. I think you hit the nail on the head there, particularly in that last sentence. Thank you.

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    • I think what’s coming out on tumblr these days (which I am also watching with fascination) is just a little different than what I meant by “precious” Armitage (and I probably should have defined it more precisely). The trope that I was referring to had elements of “he’s so adorable,” but it also insisted that because he was so sweet, kind, and modest, Armitage would be totally disgusted by any manifestation of fandom other than respectful distance. There was a notorious moment in the summer of 2012 where one fan in particular claimed that Armitage did not want to meet fans out of organized venues and if a fan saw him on the street she should ignore him / walk the other way. Right now, the same 20 year olds who think he’s cute also make what must seem from the perspective of the organized fandom eight years ago to be incredibly explicit comments about his body and sex appeal — on a level that would certainly have been been felt seven or nine years ago, but which would have been difficult to express in the typical fandom venues, where discussions about his person were not allowed. (It wasn’t that people didn’t make those comments, but they did them on unmoderated forums and youtube comments.)

      One reason that people cordially hate this blog is that I talked first about his possible identity, and then started publishing some of my tamer sexual fantasies. Both of those decisions generated unpleasant firestorms. It’s hard to see that happening now — the RPFs that appear on A03 are much wilder than anything I’ve had the courage to publish, and the 20 somethings talk about what they can grasp of his personal life with relish.

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      • I’m curious- has there been a large body of young fans in the past or is this a very recent phenomenon? If so, I wonder which role attracted them . As far as I could tell the bulk of the audience at the Q & A were middle aged women, but there was one largish group of younger women near me in the queue who seemed to all know each other- Aussie tumblr fans perhaps? As you say, tumblr certainly seems to be the forum for expressing unbridled emotions and opinions.
        I for one am certainly enjoying reading your blog and appreciate the range of topics you cover. I was a reader for several months before I became a commenter, wanting to get a feel for the fandom before entering the fray! I’ve delved into your archive to some extent and loved reading posts centred on significant days in the RA world- the day news hit that RA had been cast as Thorin, the day the first Hobbit trailer was released etc. It made me feel that I was right there with you all! It’s interesting to me why I have chosen to dig into this fandom on a deeper level as I’ve actually followed RA’s career since Spooks days. It somehow never occurred to me before to seek out any more than cursory biographical details on the net.

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        • It’s hard to answer this on the basis of solid data, but when RichardArmitageNet.com has done polls in the past, the majority of fans were in their 30s, 40s and 50s. I would say that his appearance in TH has dropped the average of a fan by at least a decade (good for him).

          Thanks for the kind words — and welcome. I always think of the blog as documenting this experience for me, but it’s nice ot know it has documentary value for others as well.

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  22. Regarding the recent surge in publicity…for some reason it’s overwhelming for me so I find myself not engaging in the RA world too much. Wonder what a therapist would have to say about that?

    Regarding contradictory statements: I think all people have a tendency to contradict themselves. I find myself doing it. So I don’t think it’s all that unusual for RA to say something in one interview and something else in another. I think that shows his conflicting feelings. For example what he’s said about not going to the websites because he doesn’t want to be influenced by fans vs what he said in the last couple of days where he does go to the websites to see what fans might be discussing, e.g. books they’re reading. I think that shows a conflict in feelings about an issue — not that he’s a BIG FAT LLLLIAR, as Geraldine Granger would say.

    Another thing that dawned on me (I’m a little slow sometimes) is that we have this to look forward to for the next 2 or 3 years. Beginning in November and through December, we starting seeing a lot more of RA; then the movie is distributed. Then 3 months later they put out the DVD and we get to see a lot more of RA. Then it starts all over again. I assume if future projects aren’t blockbusters it won’t be like this. But if it were, I might could get used to this.

    I also wondered why he was dong the tour solo. He’s definitely matured during this process. Seems as though he’s reached some sort of personal goal and can relax a bit now.

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    • Nice comment. There’s also no reason that every self-contradiction means the same thing. I always thought that the “I don’t look at the web” statement meant “I want not to look at the web, I try not to look at it.” So I agree with you on that, while I might think that some contradictions occur out of carelessness or forgetfulness, and some out of change. In 1994 I was a vegeterian and now I eat meat. Neither statement is false in the context in which I made it originally although they conflict if measured against each other. I also think the matter depends a lot on what question Armitage thinks he is answering contextually.

      Yes, there will be two more solid years of this. I didn’t have a problem with being overwhelmed by Sydney but I definitely felt that way last December – I don’t think I’ve watched even half of that stuff very closely. I’m going to have to make a decision about that soon if I’m going to keep writing my “interpretive biography.” But yeah — I have also wondered about the variances in my uptake capacity as far as he goes. …

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  23. […] On fourth personality element (“cheek”?), see increased prominence of this strand during April 2013 Australia Hobbit DVD release press. […]

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  24. […] ridiculously overwhelming. But if we need him to be a high-minded fan of literature, what happens when he describes himself in Sydney as someone who laughs about juvenile party trick? Can our picture accommodate that? And if he manifests differently than we expect him to, in subtle […]

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  25. […] this is something new means that we’ve forgotten Sydney? My argument at that point was that boyfriend had decisively put paid to the “precious Richard” stereotype. There were a few murmurs at the corners then, about this or that, but no huge swell of […]

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  26. […] Armitage takes Australia: Goodbye to “precious” Richard? May 8, 2013. A comment on Armitage’s publicity appearances for The Hobbit: An Unexpected […]

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  27. i have just spent two hours in the dead of the night reading your articles on his past and personality profile.Well written 😀

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  28. i should also probably admit i am a frequent stalker of the RA blogs and websites.Maybe I shall pop into the forum and say hello properly one day, but in the mean time keep up the good work,the amount of thought and research you have put in is impressive.Even with all the recent additional material I am sure you will cope admirably. I look forward to reading what aspects of his personality you uncover from the Crucible performances and interviews.

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  29. […] and which many fans jumped on wholeheartedly but in my opinion, mistakenly, and the “precious Richard” trope that predominated among many fans, notwithstanding. Developing more facility with the […]

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  30. […] 8:45 p.m. — Can’t figure out which Chinese takeaway to order from. It’s rough being a newcomer in an unknown city. Takes a frozen dinner out of his freezer. Tuna tetrazzini — always a winner! Reminds him of his go to meals when he was young and newly on his own. […]

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  31. […] and welcomed; at other times (“dog vs. cat”) it drew uncomfortable lines among us. New information sometimes made older pictures of Armitage no longer tenable for fans who had held th…. Depending on his context, Armitage sometimes seemed more forthcoming than he had in the past. Some […]

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