Young Armitage, intense

The hitherto unknown picture of Richard Armitage at LAMDA popped up while I was driving, and I left it on my desktop while I thought about it.

Admittedly, today was the first day of the semester and so I am particularly fully immersed, enmeshed in the twenty-something spirit, twenty-something personalities. Universities are “young” places, despite the reputation of the dusty university office, and one reason professors stay young for so long is that we’re surrounded by the blossom and promise of youth at its very best. Classes started today; I lecture beginning tomrrow tomorrow and then I will meet the early twenty-somethings again, with their unbelievable naiveté and the accompanying bravado and insecurity and sheer unselfconsciousness. It has its charms, though it can be wearying, too.

But I met with both of my “extra” assistants today, in their mid- to late twenties, and re-encountered that insatiable drive to know and be and do, allied with the confidence that one can, that everything will work out, that one can make the world to suit one’s vision of it. I’ve written about this conviction before in light of the expected appearance of an old Richard Armitage photograph. After my meeting today, I thought to myself, oh, to be twenty-five again, to feel that enthusiasm. To care that much … to be that dismissive of all the potential obstacles that life will bring …

(Or maybe not. The hard-won lessons of my late thirties and early forties have given me a lot of power, too, and a surprising amount of liberation.)

But it brought me back to this:

1512603_688071244558021_1849445923_nRichard Armitage, 1998ish. Source on watermark.

The people who collected this image represent it as from the halls of LAMDA, which displays pictures of its famous alums. We don’t know if this is a picture taken from a student production, from a classroom, from a breakroom encounter.

(We only know it’s beautiful.)

What it captures, to me, anyway, is that moment of intensity, in a way typical of Armitage, in that it’s not necessarily an active intensity, although it could be that, but feels more like a responsive intensity — an intense listening and being listened to, a subjection to the presence of the other (not seen in the photo) that writes itself on Armitage’s face, a being poised to react, a pregnant (in the now slightly archaic sense of the word, in English) attentiveness.

A Richard Armitage signaling that something is about to happen.

[ETA: I wanted to mention, and forgot — the intriguing aspect of this photo for me is that this kind of intensity is not entirely how I envision the Richard Armitage of the late 1990s, at least not personally or individually. So one of the paradoxes of the picture for me is that on the one hand, this almost has to be a role; I read the young Armitage as someone who really preferred, individually, not to be captured or visualized in this kind of intensity. On the other hand, this doesn’t look like a picture from a production.]

~ by Servetus on January 7, 2014.

19 Responses to “Young Armitage, intense”

  1. Oh to be young again and to redo somethings, well we can only think about that now because we have hindsight to do so. It seems when a person is young you throw yourself into something because it is right at the time. No I don’t wish myself young, the knowledge I have gained is not worth the trip. My bone chilled body does wish it where a bit younger today, even the floor is cold.


  2. He is truly stunning here. It’s the sort of photo I might like to have had on my wall when I was a student!


  3. I miss and don’t miss that younger me: the naive optimism, eager enthusiasm, soaring joy, sometimes overwhelming anxiety, and so much laughter. And a body that worked so well (how I took that for) granted! Oh, what I wouldn’t give today for a “rotten day” in the body that hadn’t yet turned against me…but I wouldn’t trade any of the lessons I’ve learned along the way. I know I’m better for it, easier to like, easier (even for myself) to live with. Could I have learned them any other way? Probably not so well. But what I’d pack into that 24 hours!


  4. Hey, let’s not cry over lost youth – it’s only numbers! 😉
    That picture is really nice and very interesting. I had not really visualised him like that, at that time (signs of things to come: the dark hair, the Gisborne bangs, the intense body language?). I am intrigued to know why you think this image does not look like a production image? For me it exactly looks like that – the way he is ignoring the camera, the fact that it is b/w, plus: The man is wearing a bathrobe!!!!! Come on, that can’t be a RL picture that someone just snapped and put up there…


    • is it a bathrobe?


      • Check the naked (eeeeeeeeeeeeek) knee in front!! And the thick collar. And the hint of a V-opening at the throat/chest. Defoo a bathrobe.


        • I always thought it was a bathrobe as well, the knee is the kicker. But I could not figure out why he was looking so intense in the bathrobe.Was he pissed off about the shower running out of hot water? Or he couldn’t find his costume? It takes a special actor to generate so much intensity in a bathrobe, really.


          • LOL. Yeah, this is a photo taken in the college shower room where he had just taken a quick shower after a dance class. And some joker has hidden away his pants. Oh, I can think of many scenarios involving men in bathrobes gazing intently and intensely…


      • I’ve studied this photo quote a bit. I think that he is in costume for Macbeth which he performed in at LAMDA. Hence the knee. I think that he was wearing a kilt. The loose material at his shoulder is probably the plaid as worn when in battle mode.


    • Sorry, didn’t mean to get maudlin. Just took me back to where/how I was c. 1998. Beautiful is definitely THE word for the man, esp. this pic! Haven’t seen any other images so early where he looks like this (agree more of a RH style). Could this be from some special visit once he’d become “Somebody”? You know the sort of thing, he has a little time to kill before starts back at work but not enough to go any place, friends are all busy, idea: stop in to see former teacher he liked (or something). Once he’s there: “today we have one of our … graduates…you all know his work… going to (run lines with/give pointers to/etc. Shakespeare seminar…” and somebody takes the pic. I remember reading (somewhere) that Luke Evans had plans to speak at/with some drama group(s?) in Wales. Might explain why appears so diff here from known pix closer to this date


  5. He seems like in ” this year’s love” released in 1999.


  6. Terpsichora, a Canadian poster on c19, was at LAMDA on a course last year and took a photo of the pic, which she posted on c19 in September 2013. The pic hangs in the main building of LAMDA and appears to say, underneath the image of Richard, that it is him playing Felix in ‘The Normal Heart’ – a play by Larry Kramer and that it was taken 1995/98(?) which was when he attended LAMDA.

    Annette, in her site RichardArmitageOnline, mentions him playing this role at LAMDA, in the Biography section.


  7. mesmerizingly beautiful


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