Is Richard Armitage attracted to violent characters?

Richard Armitage as Raymond de Merville in first glimpse shot from Pilgrimage.

Richard Armitage as Raymond de Merville in first glimpse shot from Pilgrimage.

Maybe some people were all “Oh, goodie!” but I know, from chit-chat here and there this morning, that I’m not the only one whose heart sank when she read Richard Armitage’s upcoming film, Pilgrimage, described by the composer of its score as “hyper-violent,” in the wake of what some of us are already dreading in Hannibal and the news of the Bridget Cleary project. I doubt we’ll get off scot-free from this sort of thing with Clearance, either. Despite the violence of the projects in which I’ve already seen him, I have cut him a lot of slack in light of his statement in May 2010 that he had lobbied to make sure John Porter was not portrayed with a gun on a huge bilboard. That statement tended to make me think he was aware of the problem and that his heart was in the right place, even if he can’t control the violence in the stuff he appears in. I even remember defending him in light of his equivocating statements on this topic in New York Moves in November 2013. In the end, pragmatist that I am, I am sure that it is hard to find roles in films that don’t involve some kind of violence. People want to see it, and the actor is at the mercy of what the audience will pay for. Armitage has to take the roles he’s offered — as he said himself after finishing his role in Captain America, he doesn’t have a nice-guy face. People in the US apparently like to have a Brit playing a villain. I discount early roles with violent aspects (Ian Macalwain in Ultimate Force, for instance), which were “break into the industry roles.” But one can be a physical actor without embracing violent roles, and since The Hobbit, the proliferation of violent roles is obvious.

So, I wonder. It’s not that he should love rom-coms (and I remember him saying it wasn’t a genre that he turned to himself as a viewer). But why so much violence?

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Mr. Thornton (Richard Armitage) punches Stevens in episode 1 of North & South. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

I’ve wondered for a long time about various things that might send Richard Armitage toward violent roles — not so much about the external, immutable circumstances mentioned above (his body and face, the state of the industry, its propensity to typecast) — but about internal factors. Over and over again we hear “Richard is nothing like his roles,” as from Peter Jackson, most recently from Bryan Fuller. It’s not that I think he’s dripping with violent tendencies and in fact, he absolutely gives the opposite impression personally and in public. But I have wondered about whether there aren’t factors in his own personality and preferences that make these roles interesting for him and make them comfortable, even beyond his statement that roles that are nothing like him are easier to play).

As a friend of mine asked me in email to me last night, “Are actors like musicians, who tend to have certain types of music that they just play better than others?” What about Glenn Gould, for instance, turned him into one of the world’s most unforgettable interpreters of J.S. Bach? One of the things he’s especially good at is pulling the right strands out of the complicated texture of Bach’s work without obscuring that texture — he had an intuitive capacity both to understand and to demonstrate what we should be paying attention to even while fitting it into the things all around it in the music.

Is violence a type of stage music that Richard Armitage is particularly gifted in interpreting for his audience? And if he is, then what about his internal world makes him able both to understand and communicate it?

Guy of Gisborne (Richard Armitage) threatens Lady Marian (Lucy Griffiths) shortly before murdering her, in Robin Hood 2.13. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

Guy of Gisborne (Richard Armitage) threatens Lady Marian (Lucy Griffiths) shortly before murdering her, in Robin Hood 2.13. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

One really might have been tempted to ask the question about his internal world from the beginning, as one of the most frequently cited pieces of information on early Armitage fan sites was his preparation for a Society of British Fight Directors qualification. About the time that Armitage would have been attempting it, in the mid- to late 1990s, the Society was taken up into the British Academy of Stage and Screen Combat. While I don’t think we know if he ever obtained this qualification, according to wikipedia, nowadays “the test requires actors to perform a dramatic scene containing a stage combat fight, choreographed and taught by a BASSC certified teacher. Students are marked on both stage combat technique and the acting within the scene. Based upon marks the awards available are: Fail, Pass & Pass with Distinction.” We learned recently that he won a trophy for stage fighting at LAMDA. This would have been an eminently sensible decision for someone who wanted to appear in Shakespeare, of course, but was it primarily a practical one?

Some part of any personal propensity may lie in the whole relationship of dance to fighting as well, because both have to be choreographed. I’ve remarked on this for the case of Lucas North in particular at length and briefly for Thorin Oakenshield in The Battle of the Five Armies and rather tangentially for Porter. I’ve never been able to settle for myself, based on what we know, where exactly the young Richard Armitage stood on the line between being a reluctant dancer or an eager one; dance lessons at four for pigeon-toes, a bunch of kids in the same street who participated, a move to a stage school at 14, true admiration for his most important teacher there. Motives are always multiple, I think, and I’m sure he was a good dancer and wanted to go to it, even as there may have been additional reasons that suggested it. If he really did start at four, he probably doesn’t remember a time in his life before he was dancing. I think even before the recent revelations, there were always signs that Armitage hadn’t had the most idyllic childhood, and I’m not the only person who’s wondered if his mother said, “Let’s get this kid out of Dodge to a place where he can flourish.” If, once established as a dancer, he didn’t enjoy the sort of dancing he was doing, and that moved him toward pursuing acting roles, still he has always called himself a very physical actor, and has stressed over the years the ways in which each character’s physicality has been central to its identity.

John Porter (Richard Armitage), temporarily knocked over by Vincent (Mzwakhe Philemon Dlamini), in Strike Back 1.3.

John Porter (Richard Armitage), temporarily knocked over by Vincent (Mzwakhe Philemon Dlamini), in Strike Back 1.3. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

So for the internal world, I can think about physicality and movement, and a perhaps instinctive capacity to think about things in terms of movement, perhaps reinforced in his years of training. I can also connect it to his love of the adrenaline rush in action — such scenes must be even more high adrenaline than acting plain. But I’m still curious about the insight level — what does Armitage see in violence? What does he show us, or want to show us, via violence?

And if he’s picking all these violent roles — he’s stated that he’s involved the Irish project as a producer, so it’s very much something he’s chosen and not something that’s forced on him? — what does he understand about it and what about his interpretation of it makes it more convincing or understandable to an audience? Is there something in this roles that he’s working through?

~ by Servetus on June 14, 2015.

116 Responses to “Is Richard Armitage attracted to violent characters?”

  1. Definitely think you are onto something. I have expressed similar concerns on my blog. He seems a very principled man and yet as of late he seems to be going back on some of his own convictions which as a huge fan I find most disconcerting.

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  2. Perhaps it is simply that his career can be broader if he can attract a younger and more male audience. This implies films with action, which often involves violence. Since he is tall and athletic, and sadly a little old to play a leading man, he is a good candidate and can probably make better money doing action films. Beyond this, he seems to be drawn to complex characters who are either not all bad or not all good.

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    • Om, yes, see many caveats in first paragraph — I would put your remark under “people want to see violence.” But in terms of his choices for complex characters, why violence specifically? Taht’s not the only way to portray complexity.

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      • After thinking about this, and reading the other comments, I suppose one answer is that some of his recent roles are not especially violent as far as we know: The Crucible, Urban, Sleepwalker,Summer. And also Into the Storm, which I thought was awful and horrible casting, but he wasn’t a violent character. However, my sense is that Clearance and Pilgrimage will be the two major films to emerge from the current list (along with Hannibal on television); that is, the violent, action shows. Bridget Cleary will be horribly violent, and if he is the husband, his character will have little redeeming qualities, but I don’t expect it to be a big film. So, I think the point on which we seem to agree is that the popular things he does may tend toward the violent. Nevertheless he is taking complex roles that are not especially violent, but these may not be the kinds of films that reach a broad audience.

        Meanwhile, I tend to agree with one of the other posts that he seems to be attracted to certain creative types (e.g., Peter Jackson, Yael Farber, Bryan Fuller), and selects projects that allow him to work with people with whom he shares creative chemistry. I find this completely understandable as it is how I pick projects in my professional life.

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        • The thing about the Crucible was that you could feel the anger streaming off him. I had always discredited the statement in interviews about the bad temper and “throwing a chair through the window” but I totally believed when I was in the theater with him. Proctor is not a violent character, but Armitage played him with a palpably violent vibe.

          I’m hoping that Sleepwalker gets the notice that Elliott Lester’s film with Oyelowo has received — that would bes tunning.

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  3. I can’t get excited at anything labeled “hyper-violent,” although I can think of a couple of movies I love with a lot of violence.
    Maybe he’s trying to wean the last of of the legacy fans off him? 😉
    Seriously, I do wonder what it is about the human condition he wants us to learn with his work in these choices.
    Sleepwalker could be good. Psychological thrillers can be gripping without violence. (Remember “Dead Again”? )
    I keep thinking he’d do some deep human drama. I don’t necessarily need a happy ending/romance.

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  4. I think no, but for his height and complexion that type of characters is adjusted to him. He has a powerful presence. And I spoke with the screenwriter of “Pilgrame” and it´s a normal film, with the exact violence. I don´t know more, XD.

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  5. I love the questions you ask. If I had to venture a guess as to why, I would pick all of the above, and add a couple of thoughts of my own based on my own experiences as an actor who happens to know a lot of working actors (normal ones, the ones in the 80-90% of the union who tend to have families and day jobs 😀). He may choose them because he can. At his level in the business he is probably still auditioning for certain types of roles, but not having to audition for other types. Actors never forget the years of “paying their dues” when the only choices they had were “take it or leave it”. In the film and TV industries (at least in Hollywood – in Europe it may not be the same) you are only as good as your last success. In theatre, you’re only as good as your last show/role, even if it wasn’t considered a success financially. Competition is fierce at any level, and there are always new faces and talents emerging. You keep working because every project ends and you are unemployed again, and I have never met an actor who didn’t worry that he would never work again. The cycle repeats almost endlessly, no matter how successful you are. Resting on laurels is only tolerated for the very successful and even then, not for very long. With every audition, every new role, and every new project, the actor is starting over in his mind having to prove himself. He deals with many rejections and even knowing that that goes with the territory, it takes its toll. The Hollywood film business is where creativity goes to die,imo, but I have gathered that in Europe it still matters. If there are creative people to work with and you get the opportunity to work with them (like Bryan Fuller, for instance), you take the job even if it’s similar to what you’ve done before. And if jobs line up, and you know for sure that you are going to be employed for the rest of the year, you rejoice – one less thing to distract you from putting your energy into actually acting. The paycheck is also a big factor. Many actors will take roles because it is worth it financially to do so even if it’s not creatively. At Richard’s level he probably has lots of expenses, and the paycheck has to be considered. More commercial vehicles tend to pay better. Serious actors expect that it takes decades to build a career and they know that reputation is everything – especially since talent is only really one part (sadly in a lot of cases, the smallest part) of getting the job. Luck is a huge factor, and a good reputation increases the luck factor. “Work begets work” is the saying, and if you have a good reputation to go along with the good work, you will be favored over those who may have good work but are difficult to work with. So if you are being offered jobs that appeal to you in any way, you take them, because you can, and you never know if that will always be the case. Feel free to add those factors (all part of an actor’s psychology really) to your other ideas if you think they are worth anything. 😊

    Oh, (sorry this is such a long post) another thought, especially as your questions pertain to RA’ s choosing so many physical fighting roles – as I am married to an actor who was previously a dancer, and who is very attracted to and adept at stage fighting, I think that there is very likely a sexual component to that choice. Can’t say for sure, but the energy expended on such things is very helpful to males. I hope this is not inappropriate, but as the mother of two sons and a daughter, who is a professional dancer (lots of attention to the physical in that world!) and as someone who has been immersed in the theatre world since I was a child, I have seen this fact born out. Just sayin’. 😉

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    • I just realized how that last part might have come across. Physical activities are a great way to expend sexual energy. Their bodies are their instruments for actors and dancers, so a lot of attention is paid to using them well in their respectives areas. They tend to be very comfortable with their bodies, and the males especially find it helpful psychologically, especially when they have no partners. I didn’t mean to imply that there was anything sexual in the fighting. Anyway. 😁

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      • why wouldn’t there be, though — there is in regular, everyday fighting — hence “make up sex” for some people

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    • Yes, I acknowledge that there are structural / industry factors that play a role in this. I’m more interested in the things that don’t have to do with that. The sexual component is really interesting to contemplate.

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  6. I’ve wondered this myself lately. And I was also disconcerted when I read that Pilgrimage is “hyper” violent. I really hope this is overstated – I was so looking forward to this one since I won’t be watching Hannibal. Or Beverly Cleary, either. Way too violent/dark for me.

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    • I’m hoping the Cleary thing is still a long way off and we will get to see some other stuff first to sort of vary our palates. Although I’m guessing Urban will have at least some violent scenes in it. Sleepwalker should be mostly good, I’m hoping.

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  7. Urban is leavened with humor and heart (at least the book is) in the midst of that gritty story, so have high hopes for it. Love psychological suspense, so also hopeful for Sleepwalker. I love Game of Thrones, which can be pretty darned violent, but there are interesting storylines and good character development . . . I have always wished RA had played a role on there. It is a very interesting question you pose about him possibly being attracted to dark and violent characters . . . exorcising his own demons??

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    • exercising his own demons — and that is the other thing I’ve been wondering about.

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      • Something deep inside him that troubles him, something that his polite British reserve will not allow him to display outside of his acting? He’s said he can display a filthy temper at times . . . interesting.

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        • I thought of that, too, how controversial it was when he said that, and have wondered exactly what he meant.

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          • I remember as a child having some pent-up frustrations that made me take a basketball and bounce it off the corners of my bedroom. I called it “Rumpus Room.” I also paced around the stone bed surrounding a big tree in our yard many a time. I have quite a temper myself (inherited from a charismatic but mercurial mother and father) and have worked long and hard to master it. Most people think of me as a very peace-loving, “sweet” person. So I remember not being particularly shocked when he said that. Humans are complex and contradictory creatures . . .

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            • yeah, my question was whether he meant it literally or not, not whether he got angry.

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            • Yes,I always think about Percy . How quick he jumps from sweet as candy boy to scary almost creepy individuum. Mayby Richard himself can say a word or two about that kind of behavior? 😉 ( I shouldn’t insert that wink here)

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  8. Maybe an easier way to put this question is to say: “what does his performance of violence say about violence?” In other words — is his point to show us rage? Desperation, etc. ? What is he bringing out of the texture of the melee of various kinds of hitting, kicking, sword-fighting, etc. Is there a general ethos behind the violence he performs, is it visible?

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  9. I don’t think RA is attracted to violent roles per se, but he has been offered mostly roles that play to his strength as an actor – he has a great physique and excellent athletic abilities and is haunting when playing dark and moody characters. Now putting physical requirements and dark character in one role and chances are it has violence (or disaster) involved.

    Until recently, I don’t think RA could afford to pick and choose as far as roles are concerned. Even now, he’s still not a common household name so a role he personally prefers may not be available to him, as most of the A-list male actors are within his age group. He mentioned a “lifetime” dream role earlier this year but I gather he didn’t get it. I don’t know what that role was and whether it was violent or not, so I have even less reason to guess if RA prefers violent roles or not.

    There are also other factors involved in an actor’s decision to sign onto a project. We the audience will only see the final product, but actors work day in and day out with lots of people we behind the scenes, on locations/in conditions that we do not know. If he enjoys working with a particular director, or a group of actors, or some other production related benefits, he may take on the job even if he personally has no interest in the project (such as Hannibal).

    Lastly I bet money will be a big consideration when making a deal. There are plenty of A-listers making silly B movies. If the money is right, script is decent, one may very well take the offer. It’s a job after all. We often forget that actors’s primary goal is to make a living for themselves, not to entertain us. The entertaining part is just a side effect. I doubt any actor will let his/her fans dictate what roles he/she should pick or reject.

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    • see remarks in original post re: structural factors. I’m not sure who in this thread has forgotten that the actor has to make a living. That is mentioned in original post as well. Also the post does not ask for decision-making power over Armitage’s choices. It remarks on a pattern, notes structural reasons for the pattern to exist, and then asks whether there are other reasons. My assumption from reading your remark is that your answer is “no.”

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      • I remember someone who used to comment at your blog quite a lot who was always disappointed with Mr. A’s choice of acting roles and I believe you and others pointed out that we didn’t know all the roles that were offered to him and what he auditioned for and didn’t get . . . and of course, we still don’t know it all. I do see a pattern of sorts and yes, I do wonder about the reason or reasons for it. The fact he has done only one light comedy role (although Guy and the Sheriff made me laugh more than once ) out of everything he’s played thus far would tend to indicate he is, at the very least, drawn to darker, more angsty roles.

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        • fedoralady, I may have been the person complaining about the type of roles Richard is being offered but not necessarily on this blog. I agree that I think Richard is more attracted to the darker roles. The fact that he would describe himself as “Moody Actor” on his Twitter bio only fuels more of those kinds of roles.

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          • Actually Mia, it wasn’t you, it was someone else. I haven’t seen her around in a while. I’d say RA definitely is drawn to angst.

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            • she’s still kind of around but she started one too many fights here, about three months after mom died, and I couldn’t handle it any more.

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    • Personally I am immune to violent movies. I will never get PTSD from them because I know they are fake, and no actors are (intentionally) harmed during filming. Therefore I am never bothered if RA takes on violent roles or not.

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  10. I think he likes roles that make him feel something, and feel it right to his core…and a role in, say, Downtown Abbey isn’t going to make him feel a rally big emotion, a really big release. He seems to like stories that are adventure, with people who go on an emotional journey. Constrictive dinner table verbal sparring or roles ‘in the head’ don’t seem to be his thing. He seems like a physical person outside of acting…yoga, going to the gym, skiing and seems pretty keen on it and disciplined about it. The violence in his roles mostly seem to be in aid of something, getting someone out of a situation, for the good of something (kicking the mill worker because of the threat of fire, prison yard fight to both help the boy and himself for the jail break), rarely is it just in anger (he showed some when Sarah tried to bug his apartment but he didn’t really touch her and was then there was no shouting in anger, more quietness really) and I don’t think the violence in has roles has ever been gratuitous, unnecessary or more than what was required; which would help him justify in his own mind that the violent role is ok. I think there is violence in his roles because it is part of a very big emotional cartharsis which he seems to enjoy both the physicalness of and the emotional release of. He did give the most physical and emotional John Proctor that I know of. So on some level he seems to enjoy it and need it. Why he needs it I don’t know….maybe it’s a safe way to feel the danger and adrenaline without actually living it for real. Safer to play a war correspondent than actually be one I would think.

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    • The young dancers from our dance schools and community theater tell me they love dancing roles from productions like “Cabaret” and “Sweet Charity” because they differ so from the nice girls they are in real life . . . It’s getting to be someone you aren’t on a daily basis . . .

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      • lol, that’s funny but so true

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        • Yep. I got to play a suspicious rich widow with a drinking problem who gets murdered in a dinner theater production in 2013—I rarely drink and I am SO not rich, but supposedly I was convincing. Definitely playing against type. Hoping nobody decides to knock me off—certainly won’t be for their inheritance LOL

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          • Well, let’s hope it was against type! lol. And maybe that’s the thing with RA’s roles. He describes himself or has been described as shy, reserved, reticent. I am the same socially. So there are probably a lot of pent up emotion needing expression, and these roles may accomplish that for him. It may have been lucky he found acting for that, in some cases (me…but not anymore) that may be why some people are constantly drawn to individuals who bring a lot of drama or pain to their lives — it’s a vehicle forcing you to feel strong emotions you normally wouldn’t — even negative ones that you don’t rationally want but are somehow addictive.

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            • It is certainly a healthier option he chose than some others could have been. I remember reading about Stephen King and how he had channeled some of his darker thoughts into his writing rather than acting upon them in real life (and are not we all grateful for that!) . . . I do think the arts in general as well as sports (which I am totally crap out, so good thing I have the arts 😉 ) can be very cathartic.

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    • I think you can argue that the violence in his roles up till now hasn’t been gratuitous (with the exception of Strike Back, there was plenty of gratuitous violence in that, John Porter was an angry man) but it’s going to be hard to make that argument about the ones coming up, I fear.

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      • I am surprised you found Strike Back had gratuitous violence. I’m interested in which parts were to you; I thought it was violent but appropriate for the situations. Just curious to see where we differ on that.

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        • most of the prison scenes that were violent, for instance.

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        • I also thought the Russian roulette scene was completely gratuitous.

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          • And yet it all seemed like William Freakin’ Shakespeare after I caught the “new” Strike Back on Cinemax. Boobs, butts, bullets, bangs ( of all sorts) and bombs.

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          • I found it uncomfortable to watch but it seemed necessary to propel the story in order to try and break the Gerry’s allegiance to Mr. Shark (can’t remember his name) so, for me, it didn’t seem gratuitous.

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            • Indeed, the episode as written had that effect. The question is — did it need to be that way in order to have that effect? Or it could have been just as effective, done without all that violence?

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              • I suppose it could have been done without violence but in that sort of environment, in an armed camp full of arms dealers and only an hour long show….I don’t know how they would have gotten through to Gerry that he was not ‘special’ and was being used and could be replaced in a heartbeat. I’ll have to rewatch it soon, love that show.

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  11. I can’t decide if he is drawn to violent roles, if directors think he is good for these roles, or a combination of these and other variables. I think he is convincing in violent roles, particularly ones with guns or swords, and maybe the people who hire him feel he is competent portraying a strong man in a violent situation. I guess we will never know, until he writes his memoirs and reveals he was up for a batch of rom coms and turned them down (regretfully) because he prefers acting in violent films. I don’t see that happening, but you never know.

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    • Yeah, we’re not going to know. But wouldn’t it be interesting, for instance, if there was something he was trying to say with this violent stuff — he has classic moves, for instance, when he strikes a woman. There are patterns. They could be symptomatic of attitudes. That’s the kind of thing I’m interested in getting at.

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      • That sounds like it would be an interesting analyses…does he tend to kind of backhand when about to strike a woman? He seems to stop short of the actual strike as well. I think, anyways. I seem to squirm and not want to see … like when he was Percy and the marriage was falling apart…the scene where he becomes violent towards her was pretty realistic; it didn’t go overboard but was so realistic to me it made for uncomfortable viewing.

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      • Ah, interesting! Please,write something about it!

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  12. There are so many things we don’t know that result in his choosing these roles – what roles he is offered, when he is offered them, what is the pay like, what is the writing like, who is directing, who else is starring in the film / TV show. because of that it is impossible to say the RA himself is attracted to role that are violent. He doesn’t think people see him in nice guy roles

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/8653223/Richard-Armitage-Im-a-bit-mean.-I-havent-got-a-nice-guy-face.html

    As this article back in 2011 shows.

    I have to smile about the disgust some fans have shown at his choices recently because of the violence. Are these the same fans who rushed to get the six little words from Between the Sheets into everyday life – it became quite a game? This show is where RA is playing a social worker who is actually a paedophile but fans seem to have no problem with this role.

    In Drowning not Waving he is a drug dealer who has no problem in using a former school friend. But that role was not condemned like his choice of Thorin or Hannibal.

    I have to wonder why we show disgust at some things but not others which are just as awful from a moral point of view.

    I class myself as a legacy fan North and South was the first role I saw him admittedly on DVD 2006 not in 2004 when it aired. His subsequent roles haven’t driven me away in fact most of them have made me admire him more for being able to plat such diverse roles There are classic roles I’d love to see him play I’m sure we all have our lists but for now he doesn’t disappoint me.

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    • Yes, please re-reead paragraph 1, which says all these things and more, and cites that link.

      Your statement is affirming the disjunct. Just because someone says they are disgusted by violence does not mean they are giving adultery (for instance) a pass. I can think of fans who were highly offened by Mulligan.

      I read Urban Grimshaw and the Shed Crew and i saw no evidence that Chop is a pedophile. Rather, in the book, Bernard Hare observes the frequency of child sexual assault and tries to protect himself against coming in contact with it. The book is an argument against pedophilia. Yes, there were some fans who charged that Chop is a pedophile, but they apparently read a different book than I did.

      my comment about legacy fans was just this: I have observed, over and over and over again, people say, yeah, I was a fan because I thought he was a certain kind of actor and then he never did the kind of roles. I’ve always been unable to accept that argument because I thought for many years he didn’t have the choice. However, at this point, it is starting to be inarguable that he is embracing violent roles. He stated that he was planning to produce Bridget Cleary — that means he is investing his own money into it. It sounds from what Fuller said like Armitage has done this more or less as a favor to him, jumping in at the last second. It’s surely not something he’d have had to do. So it is not unreasonable to hypothesize that he finds something attractive in these roles.

      I’m glad you’re not disappointed. People who are, however, should be free to feel that way, to express it, and to draw the conclusions they draw.

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      • I had no idea some fans were saying Chop was a pedophile—that is totally NOT what I took away from the book. Which just goes to show you people sure can interpret the same source material VERY differently. I am very much looking forward to seeing the film.

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        • The main one I saw was Morrighan’s Muse, but she’s deleted the post in the interval. (shrugs) I didn’t get that. Chop does plenty of other beyond questionable things, but that’s not one of them, to my recollection.

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          • Oh, yeah, his drug use and various illegal activities aren’t exactly admirable, but I think he has genuinely good intentions about helping those kids. He’d become disillusioned by the system and its failings to save some of the youth it was supposed to serve and dropped out of society, but I saw no signs of pedophilic tendencies.

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          • I thought it was clear Chop wasn’t a pedophile — that he was scrutinized by the shrewd crew of children and accepted expressly because he was not a predator.

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    • My misunderstanding. Khandy, I apologize; if that’s what you meant, please read this post — I had problems with that character, and so did some commentators: https://meandrichard.wordpress.com/2013/08/15/richard-armitage-paul-andrews-and-gender-trouble-in-between-the-sheets-spoilers-for-the-whole-series-frank-sex-talk/

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      • Thanks. I have a real problem with this character of Paul Andrews and have not seen the show – one of the only things I haven’t seen in him. I think what I was trying to say and, I’m nowhere near as erudite as many who post here so my comments may appear very simplistic, is that while fans have been appalled by the characters of Andrews and Mulligan they have not condemned RA in the same way for playing them as they have for his doing Hannibal.

        The last time he played an ordinary Joe – In To The Storm – most people hated it. My girls felt he was great as an ordinary teacher and Dad. What he wasn’t was charismatic.

        I will watch Chop keenly and I have read the book with interest. I can’t say I liked the character of Bernard Hare his dismissal of the services like the Police NHS and social services for me is a very one side simplistic view but then I work in the NHS so I am biased I think.

        I think Pilgrimage will be violent – it is set in a violent time. But I bet if he turns out to be a hero people will be less worried about the violence.

        As for the Cleary film – all though a very violent thing happens maybe the story will focus on why he supposedly committed such a crime and the trial and his life after.

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        • If we can say “some fans have not condemned in him in the same way,” I’m with you. However, I think it’s very, very hard to generalize. A lot of fans on my side of the ocean condemned that role and were horrified, some to the point of saying he was forced into doing it or could not have any reason for doing it other than the money involved. I’m more familiar with the negative attitude toward that character and production than I am with a positive or neutral one (apart from people who enjoy seeing him in the nude, of whom I am one — but I can enjoy seeing him in the nude and still dislike or disapprove of the character).

          Hare’s problem with the NHS was not that he wouldn’t have been happy to use it — it was that the kids slipped through the network of the NHS — he talked about one case in particular at length, where he tried to use NHS services to help the child and they could not be called upon. I think in general the population of children he was talking about seemed to have needs above and beyond what social services could meet, or had found ways to weasel their way around social service rules in order to meet their personal needs. Hence the idea of the “shed crew,” they were trying to help each other. I don’t think he prefers that solution — just accepts that that was the state of affairs when he encountered the children.

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  13. If Richard had born 35 years earlier and wanted to pursue more action films, I would like to think he would have had a career like Steve McQueen’s, whose action movies were made for adults. McQueen usually played anti-heroes, men living in a violent world but whose ambivalence and struggle made you relate to them. The action genre has always been my favorite but now they are so violent and gory. Everything in movies and TV nowadays have turned up the violence, sex, and gore factor. If you want to be an action star these days, your movies are going to be more violent than in years past.

    Richard’s physical assets, dancing background, athletic ability and discipline, makes his a natural for these action movies. But unlike some action stars, I think Richard has proven himself to be very versatile. He can be sexy, romantic, mysterious, and full of passion. I still wish the Wilsons and Boccolis give him the James Bond role. He still looks younger today than Daniel Craig did ten years ago.

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    • I admit that I’m puzzled that Bond is considered a dark role in that those movies are so camp (to me). They seem to ooze self-irony. That said, the point about McQueen is interesting.

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    • I watch of a lot of McQueen’s films on Turner Classic Movies. Had a re-watch of Papillon recently. RA would be great in a role like that. It’s sad that McQueen died at such a relatively young age. There was a lot of good work still to come from him.

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      • Papillon! hadn’t thought about that in years.

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        • Really good movie, even if there are some questions about how true everything depicted in the book and film were. Great performances by McQueen and Hoffman.

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      • Yes, dying at 50 is way too soon and we missed out on many more great performances. I loved him in westerns like Neveda Smith and that Pekinpah film.

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  14. Interesting post and discussion!

    I can’t stomach violence in film or tv, so I don’t watch them–even though I know that it is “fake”.

    But for me, though Richard Armitage’s 2010 Chris Ryan’s Strike Back 6 part tv series contained lots of guns, a sculpture tossed through a glass wall, and such, it was the human drama of the series–and Mr. Armitage’s portrayal of John Porter’s angst–that always garnered my attention more than the guns.

    RA’s film “Pilgrimage”, for now, is also a film that I am interested in seeing. And I hope that I get to keep my eyes open, more than closed. And I wonder if whomever familiar with the film who said it was violent was doing so to try to appeal to the film audiences who like that kind of thing. Cause really, trying to market a film about a religious relic being transported to a new destination has to be rather daunting.

    And I am really looking forward to seeing “Urban and the Shed Crew”–for the human drama with a hopeful outcome, whether or not the film ends with that outcome.

    And yes, I would also love to see RA in a rom-com, another period/historical piece, a comedy of manners, a modern day drama about the good guys/gals triumphing and improving society and the lives of individuals, more classical roles, etc.

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    • I have way less problem watching historic violence (film of historical events) than I do fake violence.

      I agree the drama was more important but there were just so many moments in SB where I asked — does realism demand that I have to see this? (e.g., Porter sticking the knife in the leg of the guy at the beginning of episode 2).

      Liked by 1 person

  15. In regards to kateakakhandy’s comment, I believe she meant that RA’s character Paul Andrews from Between the Sheets was the social worker paedophile not Chop :o)
    I’ve been engrossed in all your thought provoking posts over the last few days Serv’ and the comment discussions following, you’ve kept me entertained and interested, thanks to everyone who’s written xx.

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  16. I can think of a few violent films that I liked. Well, one or two maybe. For some reason or other I absolutely loved “Inglorious Basterds” (although I do not normally go for Tarantino stuff and this is one of the few films of his I have actually watched through – a couple of times!). Maybe it was wish fulfillment? So, hyper violent doesn’t necessarily turn me off but it does make me less enthusiastic. However – Pilgrimage is set in the middle ages and that attracts again. So, I guess I am a bit in two minds about this.
    I do love that Richard has also done something like Urban, although in that it looks like there is also and anger and violence… Maybe because he seems to be a bit of a people pleaser in real life, it feels good to him to let it all go in more violent roles? Or maybe he wants to reassue himself that in all evil, something good can be hidden (see Guy of Gisbourne)? What I do know is that he gives an extra dimension to these violent roles, there is always something there, deep in his eyes that makes you wonder about the man behind the anger/violence… Anyway, I feel like I’m babbling here. Have no explanation and I really hope he doesn’t get typecast in this violent niche…

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    • This is the thing — that there’s something extra there. He is not “just going through the motions” with that violence — I feel like there’s more there, even if it’s not necessarily a “statement” in so many words.

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  17. Your guess is as good as mine. Can acting be used as therapy against pent-up anger?
    IMO there’s some distance between moodiness and a propensity towards violence.
    Personally, I hope he gets cast – and he would want to play – in roles similar to House of Cards, Damages, Homeland. Is psychological violence “better” than physical violence?

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    • I suspect they are connected (psychological and physical violence) …

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      • Hmm – I’m in no way comparing my son and RA with this.
        My son is the most sensitive, 13-year-old, young man you could ever come across. He lives in his own little fantasy world, something his teachers comment on at every, single PTA meeting (and it’s not positive). He has a very vivid imagination.
        My son is far from violent per se, but he’s very much into karate, and when he comes home from school, he goes on the trampoline and does his karate-moves with his baton (has a name in karate that escapes me now).
        It seems meditative; he relaxes. Perhaps these combat, fight sequences, the violence, also constitute a kind of meditation to RA. These fight sequences must be very choreographed , and I kan see how one may become mentally immersed into the moves and forget everything else that is going on.
        BTW could you elaborate on where you see the connection between psychological and physical violence?

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  18. I seem to recall his saying somewhere that, in drama school, prof said that, with that face, he will only be cast in negative roles. (And Violence is often hand in hand with the evil guy.)
    “Her face is a woman’s destiny,” – why wouldn’t it be true for a guy too?

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  19. Danser ou jouer du violoncelle , pendant des heures , sont des activités contre nature , que l’enfant s’impose à lui même .
    La discipline exigée par ces activités est , elle aussi , d’une grande violence .
    La violence est à la fois physique mais aussi psychologique .
    Il faut faire preuve d’une grande volonté, d’une ténacité exceptionnelle , d’une grande violence envers soi-même , pour s’imposer tant de sacrifices et de souffrances . Sachant en plus que le résultat peut ne jamais être au rendez-vous .
    Celui qui a voulu et connu cela , sans faille , sans défaillance montre des qualités hors norme , d’abnégation , d’oubli de soi , de masochisme, c’est un entêté , un jusqu’au boutiste .
    Il vit avec cette violence en lui , retournée contre lui -même , avec comme ligne de mire le but qu’il s’est donné de réussir , quelqu’en soit le prix à payer .

    Alors une violence extériorisée , exprimée dans les combats , dans le sport, les films de guerre , d’ horreur , de souffrance morale , est une évolution prévisible , une suite logique aux violences passées .

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    • self-discipline = violence against the self?

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      • un lien devrait exister , entre cette violence envers soi à l’enfance et l’évolution vers la violence exprimée de manière extériorisée à l’âge adulte .
        time to sleep sorry

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      • This has been a really interesting discussion, and yet another example for me of why it is important we HAVE them. This is not “beating up on Richard;” I suspect the man himself does some internal musings not unlike our own.

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        • yeah, this ended up being pretty good.

          and no, this wasn’t beating up on Richard, but even if it were, that would be okay (obviously I don’t print personal attacks on third parties, that I hope is still clear).

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          • I just wanted to emphasize we can discuss aspects of the man and his career choices without anyone rushing to judgment that we are picking on that poor boy. And I know you always try to play fair.

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          • Si vous trouvez mes propos déplacés (“judgment”) , j’aimerais le savoir (Am I the third partie ?) .
            Pour connaître les limites et ne pas écrire à nouveau des textes que vous condamnez personnellement , sans pour cela les censurer .
            Who is them in ” we have them” ? . J’aimerais comprendre mieux les subtilités de vos propos , ne sachant bien les interpréter . Désolée

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            • them = discussions.

              third parties = all third parties that are not here.

              i.e., Angie said (more or less) we had a good discussion which proves that we can have and should have them and it’s not about hating Richard, and I said, if he had done something worthy of criticism that is also acceptable, except of course that I don’t allow ad hominem comments against anyone, even so-called “crazy fans” who are not here (third parties), or Richard Armitage. Criticism is not ad hominem.

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      • A partir d’un niveau très élevé de self – discipline, je pense que l’on peut parler de violence contre soi ( il est plus aisé de succomber à la facilité , je ne parle pas de paresse ou d’autres défauts ) . D’ailleurs Mr Armitage ne semble pas se complaire dans une carrière de tout repos , il reste très exigeant envers lui- même, il travaille beaucoup, il semble souvent viser l’excellence , donner le meilleur de lui-même . Il parle d’Art , un terme bien plus élogieux que travail . Avec ses fans son dévouement n’est pas banal .

        “Qui aime bien châtie bien” dit un proverbe . Ce côté de sa personnalité est fascinant , il peut être un modèle d’exigence pour nos propres activités et pensées .

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        • yeah, I think it’s true although I would also say that one doesn’t always recognize it (putting oneself in Weber’s “iron cage” such that one doesn’t even notice it). I have to think about this some more, but it would tend to apply to anyone who pursued anything very seriously. It would always be easier to lay off, quit, rest, procrastinate.

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          • “Some Words to Live by

            The Four Agreements, by Miguel Angel Ruiz (Toltec Spiritualist)

            Be Impeccable with your Word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love.
            Don’t Take Anything Personally
            Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.
            Don’t Make Assumptions
            Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.
            Always Do Your Best
            Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.”

            J’ai emprunté ce texte à KylieKyotie ; dans sa présentation personnelle sur le site de fanfiction.net .
            Je ne sais pas si cela est permis .
            Mais ce texte résonne , est en phase avec les sujets débattus .

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          • « Une œuvre d’art a-t-elle toujours un sens ? »
            En savoir plus sur http://www.lemonde.fr/bac-lycee/article/2015/06/17/bac-s-es-l-et-stmg-2015-decouvrez-les-sujets-de-philo_4655724_4401499.html#jE6FAaH37z5qZGqR.99

            un des sujets du baccalauréat de philosophie en section scientifique

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    • O dear! 😦 true! i hadn’t thought about that..

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  20. I’ve wondered too… especially as i’ve wondered in combination with my ability to see violent movies as a trend if he does it predominantly.. I sort of know i wouldn’t enjoy watching that sort of film predominantly or rather him as a violent character, it would end up disturbing me too much. I was one of those who sighed deeply at the new of very violent Pilgrimage (i’m hoping it won’t be all fighting though..).
    I don’t think it is just what he gets offered. There would be an obvious trend and he has recently commented that he was getting offered predominantly characters with a beard too 😉 (fine by me that one 😉 )
    But he does seem to be able to go there convincingly. I have no idea how comfortably emotionally, we’ll never know… Physically these days he seems to be in supreme control of his body which makes the violence i guess enjoyable on a level of physical control he is able to exercise. I am sure that in itself must be satisfying on a certain level, you know, like a good execution of a complex dance routine. Acted physical violence is much like that, perfectly executed choreography.
    But other things got me thinking too… i felt slightly disappointed listening to the love poems reading. I felt i wasn’t hearing his expressional best, by far. Whereas the moments of violence, physical but mostly emotional in Crucible were just stunning, shattering.
    Maybe he needs the extreme, the breaking of rules and emotional barriers to feel free in his acting? Maybe the level of physical control he now knows he is able to exercise under all circumstances gives him the comfort he needs to go places emotionally he feels he needs to as an actor? It may sound strange that violence should be liberating and controlling at the same time but i do think physical control under more extreme circumstances gives him security. Whereas softer feelings maybe are too normal, in certain ways more exposed as they are not balances by physical challenges, or rarely so and there is no physical safety net or weight to balance the emotional exposure out. I have missed out on a lot and have certainly not seen everything by a mile but ever since i saw Tristan and Isolde again this winter i have been wondering and wishing to see him in this role, or to see something from him that involves total emotional vulnerability and lack of boundaries that does not come with any physical violence and activity. How deep would he be able to immerse himself emotionally without any physicality? I saw glimpses of it in Proctor that i loved and some of Thorin’s madness was not physical (but the madness scene as we know was intensely physical).
    What he is saying about theatre acting and in some interviews seems to indicate that he is by far more comfortable with a very physical approach to things. I’d love for some roles to come his way that will challenge him differently, if for no other reason than the link with the physicality not to become too engrained and become limiting. I do believe he is talented and complex enough to do it and go places without physical involvement, we’re just lacking in roles at the moment that would challenge him that way. It’s one of the reasons i am so curious and excited about Urban, no sword fighting and little fisticuffs involved, no agents or soldiers or killers.

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    • I think he’s always been more gifted physically than verbally. And I think the question of what he’s comfortable with emotionally is a really good one.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Whereas I am more gifted verbally (and through the written word) and absolutely stink at the physical stuff. :/

        Is that why I love watching dancers (and former dancers who can fight onscreen with a balletic grace and agility? Hmmmm . . . .) I agree that the question of his emotional boundaries is an interesting one, indeed.

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      • it certainly is the more intriguing one, isn’t it? his emotional world remains a total mystery i feel… at least to me as i feel the outside version is a strongly, if not edited, certainly processed, controlled and rationalised version of what he actually feels (but we all do that to some degree, don’t we?). But sometimes i feel almost intrusive wondering about it 🙂
        Hm, i might agree on the first, not sure actually as i guess there could be more gift that remains unexplored because it is less comfortable? I would certainly want him to work on those sides more, to challenge himself with what comes less natural. He left me literally thirsting for so much more after the Crucible….

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  21. […] long that I thought it was dead — and I made no secret that I had no regrets about that (as here, where I wondered if this project was part of a larger pattern for him). When the identity of the […]

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