Richard Armitage recharge: Some free associating about pictures vs. film vs. fantasy

Richard Armitage Visits Union Station To Promote "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"Talk about Mona Lisa Armitage: Richard Armitage at Union Station, Toronto, December 3, 2012, to promote The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

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I wrote one of these posts almost a year ago to the day — and it’s kind of depressing to read it now, given just how many things I haven’t written in the last year. Although I’ve posted more than once per day … Well, both the summer and the year were really derailed, the summer by my parents’ illnesses, the year by the Erebor quest. Oh, and then there was the premiere of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which took up weeks and weeks of energy to react to. (Somebody — I don’t remember who — wrote me rather perspicaciously that she felt like the flood of stuff from the premiere was affecting the blogosphere because we were essentially losing status versus Armitage — as information crashed over us, we were losing the capacity to write with authority about a subject that was changing as we spoke; we were falling more into the position of admirers and out of the position of critics. I thought that plausible. And if that’s true, I hope that we’ve recovered now. Because we’ve got a lot to chew on.)

I guess it’s good to have a list of things I still want to write about. And there are a few more topics, now. And I have Guylty inspiring me onward. I remember that when I thought I was going to be unemployed, back in 2011, a colleague said to me, well, it’s not like you’ll run out of stuff to write. You can do a scene by scene analysis of everything Richard Armitage has ever done.

That certainly still awaits!

The pictures of Armitage, as Guylty has been documenting for us, are increasingly present and improving drastically in quality. Many of them are positively transfixing (see above). And it’s so easy to use those pictures and the related fantasies to get through the day.

I was thinking recently, however, that when I became an Armitage fan, pictures of Richard Armitage played a much smaller role in my fan life than did watching his actual work. Well, at the time I was basically immobilized in every sense except physically, especially for the first three weeks of it. All I did for that three weeks was go to work, come home, watch North & South, over and over and over again, and sleep. But the record of my early Armitagemania, which I cataloged under a rubric called “Obsession Update” for most of 2010, reveals that I was spending dozens of hours every week watching Mr. Armitage on DVD and on my computer. It was taking up a ridiculous amount of time, actually. At some point it waned slightly and also bothered me less, so I stopped documenting the watching and rewatching.

I’m not watching Armitage’s work with that single-minded devotion now and I sometimes read in the evenings again (!) — but I am still watching fairly continuously, if not as repetitively. I’m watching The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey over and over again as well. And so I really want to get back to the acting, for a few reasons.

One is that unlike in 2010, when I had practically every scene Richard Armitage had been in on DVD memorized, I now have the experience — if I haven’t watched a particular production for a certain amount of time — of watching it with new eyes. And frankly, when I turned Strike Back on again a few days ago after a couple of months off, it was like a kick in the stomach. Armitage still does it for me and to me, and I want to know why. There’s more to understand, stuff I haven’t explored even on top of the lists of themes I’ve targeted. I want to get to the “beyond.”

Second, on the whole question of Armitage’s emotionality as an attractive model for me, that’s something else I need to tap into, both on the level of understanding how he puts it together consciously or unconsciously, and also on the level of figuring it out for me.  This ties into the question of fantasy — both as fanfic and on other levels, which I’ve been using a lot to make it through the days. (A03, what did I do before your writers learned about Armitage?) The fantasy is a manifestation of things I (and other people) see in Armitage’s roles and acting (and identity, but that’s a slightly different issue — and I need to get the next chapter of the “My Richard Armitage” interpretive biography ready to go as well. That really did get sidetracked by the premiere of The Hobbit — but it’s held up surprisingly well, Armitage’s inability to remember exactly when he was on stage in the Birmingham production notwithstanding).

Third — and I just figured this out a few days ago — I’m feeling more calm on the whole beauty – talent relationship than I have in a while. I’ve always said it was a false dilemma, even as I conceded that at that decisive moment of Armitagemania onset, the beauty was necessary for me. However, I’ve been finding some of the other actors who play dwarves interesting lately — especially Graham McTavish, Dean O’Gorman, and Adam Brown (in that order) and maybe a little bit of Jed Brophy. Frankly, I see a picture of Dean O’Gorman on my computer screen and I grin and my hips jerk of their own volition. How can someone be that gorgeous and live? With McTavish and Brown it’s a little bit more complex than that — I’m responding to different things in McTavish and Brown is more cute than heartthrob material — and Brophy is more of an occasional pleasure. But that’s it. It’s all limited to pictures and occasional news reports. As with my sort of momentary puzzlement over Tom Hiddleston last summer, I haven’t explored it any further. No hunting through Netflix, ordering of obscure DVDs, or watching of violent productions in genres I’d never touch in my ordinary life.

And I was wondering — okay, you have that reaction to Armitage as well at times, the instinctive drawing of breath when you see a beautiful picture of him. And you love documenting his career — the footnoting, the excavating the sources, the linking, the writing. So why don’t you start a blog about these auxiliary dwarves if you like them so well?

And then I thought, well, it would essentially just be a kind of scrapbook. A sort of tumblr. I don’t want to say anything about any of them. They’re beautiful, but they don’t make me want to speak. I don’t care where the pictures came from or how they were made or why their acting looks the way it does. I just want to smile at them and imagine them smiling back.

That’s it: Unlike Richard Armitage, they don’t make me want to speak. They don’t inspire me to engage in the production of knowledge about them. They don’t make me want — when I’m feeling blocked or uncreative — to get unblocked or creative again. They don’t pull me onward on any journey.

So yeah — I need to get back to the pieces of Armitage that make me want to speak, and I need to do that speaking.

Weird how this blog just goes on and on and on and on and on …

~ by Servetus on May 18, 2013.

13 Responses to “Richard Armitage recharge: Some free associating about pictures vs. film vs. fantasy”

  1. Damn you Servetus!- as a fairly new reader of your blog I keep getting sidetracked by your bolded links to previous topics and end up flitting from pillar to post, losing all track of your current train of thought! I’ve sometimes ended up four posts back,and had to follow a trail of breadcrumbs to find my way back to the present!
    To follow on from your mention of other dwarf actors, an unexpected pleasure for me has been witnessing the pronounced feeling of camaraderie exhibited by the ensemble. The cast genuinely appears to have bonded and take great enjoyment in each other’s company. What a joy that must have been on such a long shoot, to be able to laugh together through all the absurdities of filmmaking. I wonder how actors cope with this situation, the coming together for intense periods of time, only to break up again and go their separate ways at the end. No wonder they seem happy to attend fan conventions together!

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    • KatharineD,

      I think it’s great that you are following the links back to the previous topics that have been posted! I often find comments I’ve posted in those previous topics that make me smile since they recall where I was at the time. It’s the web of inter-connectedness over time that makes this all particularly fun for me.

      As for the filming projects, I guess I’ve always imagined it to be something akin to ‘summer camp’ where you’re away from your family and spending time in new surroundings with strangers and bonding over those new experiences together. Peter Jackson / Fran / Phillipa / Andy Serkis – they’re the camp counselors, herding everyone along. 😉

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      • We don’t have the summer camp tradition here in Australia, but I take your point UK Expat. Still, it’s an odd sort of a life, isn’t it? If RA wants to pursue a movie career he’ll need to be prepared to travel to all parts of the world, wherever the work takes him, meeting new cast members along the way. He seems to be a fairly self contained sort of person and may even embrace the peripatetic lifestyle for all I know.
        I look at the career of Sean Bean, particularly since his time on LOTR and he seems to hardly have drawn breath between one project and the next- imagine how many coworkers he’s racked up in the last ten years!

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        • Although I can’t say my work is comparable to the isolation of film projects – I do work in a “project” capacity for my job – which similarly throws together a group of people for roughly 6-12 month cycles in an extremely time-intensive working capacity.

          I’ve found it makes me strangely attached and detached at the same time. For example, while a project is ongoing – I am naturally attuned to almost every inhale and exhale and thought and feeling of most of my ‘team’ – and they in turn, are attuned to mine.

          However, as soon as the project is completed, and most of us are re-deployed to other jobs or projects – I then find myself with a new team to learn from and become attuned to, and very rarely have time to think back to my old team members.

          Of course, I do think fondly of any wonderful memories created – but for all of my great immersion in the details of their daily lives during the project, I am always surprised by how little I think of my team members after the project completes (outside of a gratitude for knowing them and the hopefulness for an opportunity to work together again).

          I think films must be a mix of the project cycle work + the summer camp bonding experience (if one works on-location). The finished film product is almost beside the point when viewed from this perspective, isn’t it? 😉

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          • As someone who’s also moved a lot and been thrown together with people for an intense, brief period, what I tend to find over and over again is that there are a few people from each setting who sort of “stick.” Social media helps that, no doubt, but I find that true friends are people whom I can just pick up with, whom I don’t have to narrate backstory to in order to resume our conversations. There are actually more people like that in the world than I would think.

            There have been some signs that Armitage has stayed in touch with previous coworkers — Laura Pulver is the most prominent example. re: TH, I always think it’s interesting to hear who he talks about doing things with in NZ. The names that come up most are Jed Brophy and Graham McTavish.

            If you’re a Sean Bean fan, you might want to check out “White Rose Writings” (in the sidebar) — Fabo is a longtime Bean fan as well.

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    • Apologies for that.

      This is a weird document to write. When I write “my own stuff,” there are ways to make sure easily that I am not repeating myself, but it’s harder in a document like this. The diary aspect is linear, but themes recur, and then I need to trace my path backwards to figure out where I’ve been.

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      • No apologies needed! I just never know where the journey will take me; I start out on the main road, and end up taking many unexpected delightful detours! A visit to your blog could take ten minutes, or I could very well still be here after an hour or more.

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  2. You write want you are lead to write and you will have readers.

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  3. It’s interesting that what you are describing as the difference between your response to Armitage as opposed to the other dwarves, is the difference I make between what I call my “obsessions” as opposed to everything else. My obsessions give me energy, make me love life, make me feel connected to the world. It’s a wonderful feeling.

    You and I are at different points in our lives. I don’t look at Armitage to learn about me. I don’t see him as a model of anything for me, although I admire him more than I have words for.

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    • I think the difference for me is that I don’t have an in between, really. Or I haven’t experienced that yet. Either I am fascinated by something or I’m basically uninterested. It means a lot of things get lost on me, like film. I like it. If I have a good friend who makes me go, I will. But mostly I could care less about anything I’m not fascinated with. It’s kind of an annoying way to be, I have to say.

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      • I know what you mean. I get pulled into a lot of things by going along with a friend who is interested in something more than I am. Actually, I’ve seen a lot of good theater and film that way! I rarely find anything I fall in love with though. That is a very special event in my life. That means I spend a lot of time not in love, of course. But when I AM…..who knows what will happen? Love makes you do the wacky, as Buffy would say! 😀

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  4. […] to self: I wanted to get back to Richard Armitage's roles, acting, and emotions. The only way to start is to start. Put one finger on the keyboard after […]

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  5. […] happened initially, it was mostly with regard to women actors. But I’ve experienced a bit of this with regard to The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, as I’ve noted, for example, with Dean O’Gorman. Still, my dwarf desire is still basically Thorin-centric, […]

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