Still true after 8 years (and a sixth): me + richard armitage

My actual blogiversary was in late February, but I’ve been unable to make myself comment on almost any anniversary or holiday this year. You may have noticed there was no New Year’s resolution post, no birthday post, and I barely managed to cover Passover. I so often feel paralyzed by events, or the news, or whatever, but I didn’t want to skip it entirely. So two months late, a blogiversary post for me (and you). Thanks to Richard Armitage, to Guylty, who wrote many posts here, and to everyone who is (still) reading and commenting and lurking after all this time!

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Richard Armitage: He’s still got it

Richard Armitage as Chop in Urban and the Shed Crew.

Watching Urban and the Shed Crew in its entirety for the first time two weeks ago, I thought exactly that: “You’ve still got it, boyfriend.” Technically speaking, I suppose we should say “you still had it,” as this performance is four years old. Even so, it came after a year where Richard Armitage had done no screen work apart from Hobbit / BOTFA pickups, and Jackson is known to demand a fairly specific style of relatively un-naturalistic performance from his performers. I don’t know how much directing Candida Brady did, either, although I’m guessing not much. The previous year, Armitage had apparently expressed a fear to Sarah Wayne Callies that after two years under prosthetics, he might need to regain his acting chops. This piece definitely shows that they had not been lost. And to be honest, after a phase with so many heroic, villain, or genre performances, and then Mr. Nobody Daniel Miller, it was heartening to me to see Armitage playing a flawed human being again, using his normal panorama of expressions, a character who wasn’t trying to hide who he is.

All I need to do to change my mood is to see a performance

There was a phase at the beginning where I was (re-)watching Richard Armitage’s performances every single day, and it lasted about five years. I’d started at a moment of intense stress, and the fact that I’d gotten out of the habit reflected how much my general circumstances had improved. I’d forgotten that old strategy, but recently in a moment of utter desperation I turned Lucas North on and Lucas North turned me right back on in return. As often as I’ve watched these shows, I really still need to continue to watch them because they are a constant reminder of the things about Armitage that impress me so much, particularly of his creativity, skill ,and physical prowess.

Mr. Thornton is still my favorite, followed (this surprises me) by Thorin Oakenshield

They could have a serious hauteur competition.

Mr. Thornton caused Armitagemania onset, and I devoted a lot of attention to figuring that out and describing it. Thorin Oakenshield has meant a lot to me, too, although I’ve spent the least time on that. But I think of him constantly at the moment; the figure continues to hold meaning for me in more practical ways at present (perhaps because I am not overworked). Maybe time to write about it.

Others in the top ranks in no particular order: John Proctor, Lucas North, Guy of Gisborne, John Standring, John Porter (and probably Chop).

Honorable mention: John Mulligan, Ricky Deeming, Raymond de Merville.

The ones I’m scared to think too much about the implications of: Francis Dolarhyde; Uhtred.

Richard Armitage on stage is the ultimate fan experience

Richard Armitage’s entry into the scene as John Proctor in Act One of The Crucible, June 2014. Photo by Geraint Lewis.

The first night I saw him on stage was life-changing. I will never forget that moment. Love, Love, Love, although not the masterwork of theater that The Crucible was, was still worth every bit of time, money and effort I spent on it. He’s right — there’s an energy that goes out from the stage that is not like anything I’ve experienced on a screen. I’ve accepted (in the course of all the vagaries of this spring) that there may someday be a stage performance I won’t be able to see — but it won’t be for lack of trying. The jolt from The Crucible has lasted me for years.

On screen, the details are the best

This is the scene where Porter is preparing to insert the knife into his anus. I’m including it because (a) I wanted a picture of Porter here; (b) it’s funny and (c) I loved Armitage’s story about him telling the director how long of a shot he would need to get it in.

I’ve written about so many favorite detailed acting moments, and so many more remain to be discussed. They’re the thing that keep me looking and again — slight changes in Mr. Thornton’s expression as he watches Margaret’s coach drive away; the way that Lucas reacts to the evil Sarah as she dangles him on her poisonous string. Even Daniel Miller had the moment where Esther Krug was baiting him about his mother’s death. The way Guy kisses Marian back when he realizes he’s being kissed. Armitage puts these moments together in scenes of amazing depth: I think of Guy’s response to the Sheriff or Lucas’ fatigue over his job. These are things I can watch over and over again and they give me a similar energy each time, after years.

Interview Armitage can be a lot of fun — but less so in press blitz interviews

Compare this:

To this:

He’s come a long way. He still finds interesting things to say, and ways to be funny and incisive. A lot of the interview fatigue I’ve been feeling lately is due to poorly-prepared interviews who ask the same questions over and over again. I’m impressed at how he makes me keep watching by building in new details to each interview. However, even he struggles at times — I’m thinking of the string of interviews about Into the Storm.

Richard Armitage’s mere appearance is a signifier for positive feelings

I would never say I don’t have preferences. And they are: Beard, not stick-thin, as little photoshopping as possible, especially around the eyes, clothes in which he feels comfortable (that can include well-cut dress clothing). That said, it remains the case that just seeing his picture thrills me, and that there are no pictures of him as a person that I find ugly or unviewable or that make me look away. His image functions a bit like an icon, insofar as it triggers feelings of peace and euphoria. Better if he’s smiling, for me, but even his frown can make me smile.

OK, maybe he wouldn’t need to wear this sock / shoe combination ever again. But he looked great from the jeans cuff up. Richard Armitage, Toronto airport, spring 2015.

Cheese is delicious and Claude Monet agrees with me

Richard Armitage, as Claude Monet, delighted over his cheese purchase, in the second episode of The Impressionists. Source: RichardArmitageNet.com

And it’s been truer for longer than eight years. What would a post on this blog be without some random but compelling detail?

Moving on …

Who the “real” Richard Armitage is continues to evade me — but I’ll never stop wanting to know

Next to Mr. Thornton’s primacy of place, I think this is the biggest constant for me over the last eight years. I want to know who the person is who consistently provokes such intense reactions in me. I’ve tried so many times to put a picture together. It’s something I can still talk about with fellow fans, although I mostly do it privately at the moment. Admittedly, since Twitter I’ve discovered some definitive data points that are less [coughs] conducive to my admiration than others. I do prefer knowing the truth than to believing a lie, even if I don’t necessarily the truth, or I struggle with it. I’ve accepted that we will only ever see facets of Richard Armitage, and also that people change. But I can’t imagine not being curious about the real Richard Armitage.

Which means I end up learning about things I’d hardly or never care about otherwise in order understand his context

The historian’s dodge in situations like that (not unlike that of the actor, perhaps?) is to try to build a context for the subject, to understand his circumstances better. So I’ve tried to do that over the years — learning about the industry and artistic structures and circumstances that might have conditioned his past decisions and will create opportunities for him in the future. In the category of never: what Marvel may be doing with the MCU next. In the category of hardly: a long article about an LA French film festival, which has only ever honored woman director: Julie Delpy (I guess this bodes well). More interesting: aspects of the actor’s craft; organizational changes at EPIX.

I’ve come to terms with having a fan identity, and I love my fan friends, but fandom itself continues to mystify me

Richard Armitage, The Crucible stagedoor, August 22, 2014.

At the beginning, I felt almost anguished about being a fan — that this particular preoccupation had fallen upon me. It took about eighteen months and the help of some friends to get past that stage, but now I’m comfortable saying even to close friends and family members that I’m a fan. A sort of reverse process has occurred with regard to fandom as a whole, though. I will always be grateful for my fan friends, and particularly for their support in 2013. But so many of the dynamics of fandom puzzle me beyond belief. I’ve always thought that one can’t be a fan alone, without other fans — it would seem ridiculous to me to say I am a fan of Armitage but not part of the fandom. At the same time, my immersion in the fandom is the thing I struggle with most on a regular basis. The biggest issue is probably the regular demand that fans never say anything critical about Richard Armitage or his projects. Nyah, nyah, boo, boo, I am a fan anyway. The smarm campaign that’s come from Cybersmile and which some fans have taken up depresses and irritates me in equal measure. Everyone has the right to fangirl as they will. I just wish I understood the whole thing better, and I wish I understood how to enjoy the fandom more.

Marketing will always be a chief source of potential alienation

Although I would never deny that it has its moments.

One particular bête noire for me, and something that makes me feel uncomfortable and unbelonging, is marketing. Some professional marketing is better than others: I still mourn the absence of Peter Jackson’s Hobbit marketing schemes in my life. He made me glad to be spending the money. Other marketing is poor or erratic (Berlin Station), or just plain aggravating (Audible). I know that my frustration with it increases in direct relationship to the extent that it reveals its manipulative tendencies openly, or fails to give me content in return for attention. It’s much worse when it comes from inside the fandom. It’s a dilemma because some marketing fun, and because without marketing I wouldn’t know what is happening. But this blog has been way too much news and publicity lately.

The creative boost is still the most important consequence and I need to make more of it going forward

Richard Armitage, Audible interview, 2018, included to keep my mind on the present.

I have lunch with Obscura periodically, but we don’t often discuss Armitage or the fandom any more — we’ve got other common interests and concerns that occupy us more urgently. It occurred to me when I saw her this week that the thing I’d have said about the fandom (other than urging her to see Urban and the Shed Crew as quickly as possible) was that I need to focus less on the news, the marketing, and the gossip, and more on the writing and creativity and exploration end. I’ve been saying this to myself for quite a while. The current news situation always makes it easier to avoid doing my own work, drown myself in fanfic or read social media. The fog is lifting and the creativity paralysis is ending, in that I’m back to writing more spoofs again (this is something I tend to do when I’m angry about something), but I need to move back that next step and focus on doing the writing I want to be doing instead of the news cycle. I’ve said that to myself before but I really need to get on top of this. Daylight is burning.

~ by Servetus on April 25, 2018.

39 Responses to “Still true after 8 years (and a sixth): me + richard armitage”

  1. Lurk, lurk 🙂
    Alles Gute nachträglich zum Jahrestag für eine wahre Armitage-Veteranin
    😀
    Hat sich Porter tatsächlich ein Messer in den Poppes ……???? Dachte, das sei ein USB-Stick oder was ähnliches gewesen. Aber wenn es einer weiß, dann du……

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! Yeah, it was a pen-knife (like a small Swiss knife). He uses it to get them out of the room they’re locked into in Strike Back 1.2 🙂

      Like

  2. I still read your blogs and am lurking in the background. I do find the fandom rather strange these days. Everything RA does is wonderful which I find somewhat annoying. I have stopped myself from ordering some of his book narrations as I’m not really interested in the Author or subject I.e Wanderlust.

    I tired of the same stuff being regurgitated over and over. Must say tho enjoyed the French interviews very much.
    Keep writing as I really enjoy your blog greatly.

    Hi

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Congratulations on your blogiversary – even if late. I find it very reassuring that you are still enthusiastic, still curious, still blogging about Mr A. Sure, it wanes occasionally, but then the mojo comes back. Changes in the way news are distributed, have an influence on the contents of your blog, as does the way the fandom interacts among itself and with Mr A. And vice versa. But I am glad that you are a constant in this particular part of the blogging universe. You are still inspirational – the details you notice, the discussions you kick off. I hope you continue to find pleasure in this particular occupation.
    (And many thanks for the mention – too much credit!)

    Liked by 5 people

    • Thanks or the good wishes!

      I originally had a paragraph at the beginning about how so many things have changed but a few are still consistent (topos of my last lunch w/Obscura), but I took it out because it got so long. The interactions in the fandom are probably the thing that’s changed the most. And less Armitage tweeting is definitely good for my mojo 🙂

      Like

  4. You tend to write the spoofs when you are angry? That’s interesting! You are very funny when you are very angry!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You have been a steady powerhouse of ideas for many years now; your blog has given me much pleasure and I have learned many things from you. I thank you so much for sharing, writing, musing, and creating interesting posts on obscure German foods and things like that! 😉
    I agree about Chop — he revitalized my own interest in Armitage, which had been waning. I really can’t stand audio books and can’t imagine going in that direction just to hear his voice. I miss the Lucas days, the Thornton days (Thornton was my gateway drug!) , I loved Porter more than anything and Guy will always have a special place in my heart too. In short, I miss the early stuff that I binge-watched back in 2013-2014 when I first became a fan. In some ways, I don’t feel he has replicated the emotion of that early work — not until Chop, anyways. (I realize that was a few years back, too). Who knows, maybe it’s more about me than about him. Maybe I got something out of that early stuff that I don’t need anymore because, like all people, I have changed over the past five years. What I wish more than anything is that he could get another terrific role. And I would so love to see him on the stage, but going to London or New York at that point in my life was just not a possibility with my family and work commitments. Hopefully someday……

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the kind words. I will definitely look for another obscure German food to write a profile about soon. Labskaus, maybe. Yum!

      I think we need some “Chop comes to Canada” fanfiction. “I’m a lumberjack and I’m okay …”

      Seriously, though, I think you’re right that our own needs change over time, but I also think his work trajectory changed a lot after The Hobbit.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree about work changes. I follow the London Theatre scene closely and wonder why he is not on stage more.

        Liked by 1 person

        • it’s puzzling. I can imagine there might be issues for a smaller venue to work through, but one would think he could do more than play a year now, if he wanted to. I wonder how badly he wants to come back to London sometimes.

          Liked by 1 person

      • Chop in Canada fanfic would be great – the wardrobe writes itself. Those flannel shirts perfectly paired with the just the right complimentary colour of T underneath – classic. The jeans are just right too.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Congratulations Servetus! I am glad you’re still around as a blogger and source of so many thought provoking posts!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. […] Servetus hadn’t mentioned her 8 year blogiversary on Tuesday, I totally would’ve forgotten my own fan-i-versary. It is six years to the day, […]

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Congratulations my dear ❤ I love this summary, and am incredibly glad you’ve stuck it out 😎🤞👏👏 My fangirling has meant something different to me than yours (w/real life eating my lunch larely, I think God used Armitage to connect me to old “pieces of me” left behind). But I know the creativity, knowledge, humor & transparency that you bring to yours is a gift to more than just me.

    I think my top 2 are probably Thornton & Proctor, 2nd tier is a struggle to narrow down. Probably a good thing I never saw Proctor live or he might have crumbled me in tiny pieces. Again, cheers & congrats- S 💖💝

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for sticking with me!

      I thought Proctor would be #2. And if anyone could convince me to like or sympathize with this character it would be Richard Armitage. But in the end I have too long a history with that play. I think, though, that if an independent critic were looking at his work they’d say that was his most successful role.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. I know I am 2 days behind, but happy blogversary! I hope you will be here for a long time and do what you wanna do. 😉 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Reading this Serv……..makes me feel warm all over, and….. my heart….. skips a bit…:D

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thanks for not giving up on us, Servetus. I enjoy your writing, when I have time to read it. (It is now 1:00 am and I should be asleep.)

    Have you bought any of the character dolls? I bought the large, plush Thorin one from Germany, and I enjoy it very much. That fierce look on the doll’s face makes me laugh, so I keep it out where I can see it. I just bought 2 of the little felt dolls, one of Chop and one of Thornton. I am happily waiting for them to arrive. I know I’m too old to play with dolls, but I figure it keeps me young.

    Handsome actors are a dime a dozen. There really is something about Richard, although I find it hard to say just what. I’ve decided that his face is just so expressive.

    One of the last scenes in Strike Back, where he and Andrew Lincoln are fighting it out in the desert, and Richard breaks down and his eyes tear up when he decides to forgive the man, is a scene that has stayed with me for years. And Chop is just so real. I’ve been missing that in RA’s roles lately.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I have a bunch of Thorin dolls / figures that were official Hobbit mdse. I haven’t bought any of the handmade ones, although there are a few that appeal to me.

      I think you’re right about his face being expressive — in combination with the fact that he is always so physically present / right in a role. It always surprises me when I see him in a role and then see an interview right afterwards — I realize, wow, yeah, he looks like he IS that person but at the same time he IS acting, he’s not like that at all.

      Totally with you on the “real people” issue.

      Thanks for continuing to read!

      Like

  12. Happy belated blogiversary Serv! Yours’ was one of two blogs (the other was Calorexa’s) that I found when I was searching for information on my new crush, and I spent some time reading back through all your previous posts.
    Guy was my gateway, Harry was my lightning bolt moment, but I’d be hard pressed to choose an actual favourite now that Chop has arrived on the scene, although Porter and Lucas will always hold a special place in my heart.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, Calexora: blast from the past. Such a shame that she deleted her blog. There were a lot fewer posts to read back then. I’m grateful that you’re still around.

      Chop really has the potential to steal a LOT of hearts.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. A little bit late, but anyway, congratulations and thank you for keep on blogging that diligent. It´s not even a year that I came here first but I´m really glad google led me this way. So much informative, inspiring and thought-provoking writing about various topics. Thats´s what makes your blog special. I´m often astonished at the amount of high quality writing you create. Given the number of books you read, the number of posts you write, all of his work you consume promptly (and besides dealing with daily life as well), it´s incredible. I would like to know your secret of time management. It´s also often very interesting when you refer to older posts. Although I learnt that it´s not a good idea to follow one of those links when you have to go up early the next day. Because then one link leads to another and to another and so on. All those interesting and compelling posts, are always a guarantee for a lack of sleep.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Gefährlicher Dominoeffekt! 😁

      Liked by 1 person

    • Well, the post itself is quite a bit late 🙂 I’m glad that new people still find their way here and want to read what I’m writing.

      re: time management — I don’t have any special skills other than reading fast and reducing the “moving parts” in my life to a minimum. But for example, I got knocked on my butt yesterday between planned problems and unanticipated ones. Whole day lost.

      Like

  14. Late to the party but happy blogiversary, Servetus! I’m so glad you’re still around and still fascinated by Richard and his work!
    I think I may be an example of how you can fangirl all on your own for a long time (consume but never interact). I was a lurker, I read many of your posts long before I ever crawled out of the woodwork and started blogging myself. Actually, reading your blog was one of the incentives for me to finally give blogging a go myself, so thank you for that!
    Here’s to another 8 years for you at the very very least!

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s flattering and positive: there’s always more room for self-expression! And thanks for the good wishes. 8 years from now is … 2026. North America may be underwater by then … 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Two years ago, I stopped being a lurker and commented on one of your posts. I enjoy reading your blog and the conversations we have and learning from your vast reading and knowledge — as you say, “Fandom is so educational!” (I meant to comment on this post earlier, but life has intervened.)

    I love that your blog anniversary post is an exploration of what Armitage and fangirling has meant to you. My gateway role was Thornton, and he is still my favourite. I love the subtle change in facial expression, the anguished voice in the proposal scene, the humility in “You’re coming home with me?!”, and of course the kiss. Second would be Sir Guy, particularly his anguish in the final scene with Marian, and then the masterful John Proctor.

    I definitely find Armitage has a calming influence on me. I often don’t have time to watch him, and that’s where audiobooks in the car come in handy. My stress levels were through the roof last week, but “The Convenient Marriage” in the car had a magical soothing effect. That voice! And I get lost in the characters he differentiates, forgetting that I am listening to only one man.

    I’m glad you are here blogging! I look forward to continuing to read your writing for a long time to come — maybe even that novel!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I had one of those big glimpses insight about the novel thing yesterday, so I am hoping for some progress (and hoping I’m not kidding myself). Thanks for continuing to read and comment! I think Thornton will continue to unite a lot of fans. There’s a small group of Thornton disdainers, but I still think people who come into the fandom b/c of North & South are in the slight majority.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. […] them. I’ve come to terms with some of them and will never come to terms with others (see my most recent blogiversary post for this perspective). It probably also plays a role that this is almost my only experience of […]

    Like

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