Richard Armitage and the absent mother?

As we know — Richard Armitage’s own mother is not absent at all. That said, I was lying in bed last night and pondering how many of his roles — in the cases the make reference to a family — involve an absent or insensitive mother.

  • Thorin Oakenshield’s mother is never mentioned — while family conflict is central to The Hobbit, it’s all about him and his father and grandfather.
  • Francis Dolarhyde has an absent mother and abusive grandmother.
  • Gary Fuller’s mother is never referred to, but his sons have an absent / dead mother.
  • Lucas North refers to a father, but not a mother.
  • Guy of Gisborne struggles severely with his mother’s decision to marry Robin’s father and her treatment of his father after his return.
Guy of Gisborne (Richard Armitage) ponders his past and his mother's story in Robin Hood 3.10. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

Guy of Gisborne (Richard Armitage) ponders his past and his mother’s story in Robin Hood 3.10. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

Of course, the opposite is true for his signature role of Mr. Thornton — here he has a very involved mother. Seen from a modern point of view, one might even call her controlling, but such close mother / son relationships were seen differently by the Victorians, as Feminema notes here.

I wonder if this is disproportionate, or if it’s just such a normal technique of drama that we tend not to notice it, or if it comes down to Armitage’s previous preference for epic lead roles, in which some kind of troubled family history frequently plays a role.

~ by Servetus on October 28, 2016.

6 Responses to “Richard Armitage and the absent mother?”

  1. Interesting. I’m surprised you didn’t mention Daniel Miller, who not only lost his mother, but she abandoned him first. Also, John Standring’s mother appears to have died when he was young.

    Taking this a step further, you can look at his characters’ troubled relationships with women, and then you can add John Proctor and Kenneth to the list. Lucas then becomes an obvious addition, too.

    Richard seems to be attracted to characters with deep emotional turmoil, so maybe this isn’t coincidental.

    • Sorry — I thought Miller went without saying. That was why I was thinking about it in the first place. I hadn’t thought of Standring.

      I am, however, suspicious of drawing any causal connection to relationships with women. I know that’s fashionable among Freudians, but these are adult men we’re talking about.

      I don’t think it’s coincidental, though, especially when you consider how much influence he had on the characters of both Guy and Lucas. I know less about Daniel.

  2. Just to be clear, I was not making any connection to Richard’s relationships with women because I don’t know anything about that. I just meant that he picks characters that have this sort of turmoil.

    • Yeah, I still think that even in drawing a character, the conclusions “trouble with mom” –> “trouble with women” is reductionist. It could be the case, but there could be other reasons, even in the life of a fictional character.

  3. Richad always said he preferred to play characters where he could find or make up emotional background for. He seems to pull himself more to conflicted characters and what is more conflicting than lack of or bad maternal influence.

    • Oh I can think of plenty of things. Paternal absence, for instance, childhood sexual abuse …. there’s a long list. And that’s not something that Armitage created — character development in itself requires a certain amount of internal conflict, usually about things that have happened prior to the present of the character. That wasn’t the question. The question was, why does maternal absence specifically as opposed to other things recur so often in his work?

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