Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Thursday Thirteen - 61 - 13 Truly Marvellous Things About Richard Armitage

I'm in celebration mode this week, and what better way to rejoice than to devote this week's Thursday Thirteen to one of my favorite British actors - Richard Armitage. If he isn't already on your inspiration radar, he soon will be...

1 - 37-year-old Richard Armitage grew up in a village outside Leicester in England. He's already had an extensive career in theatre and British television, with a few film roles to round things off. He studied his craft from a young age, attending Pattison College in Coventry, a performing arts boarding school. Eventually he graduated from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.

2 - He first came to my attention as John Thornton in the BBC miniseries North and South.

He plays a Victorian cotton mill owner who tries to resist his attraction to a woman from the aristocratic south of England.

Be well-warned: if you haven't seen this miniseries yet, there is only one reaction to it. BRA and ARA - Before Richard Armitage and After Richard Armitage.

Here's a clip from the series when John Thornton and Margaret Hale first meet. Their opening scene runs to 1:45.

3 - It's no secret I'm a rabid fan of BBC's Robin Hood. Richard plays Sir Guy of Gisborne, an extremely complicated character who serves the Sheriff of Nottingham and counts Robin Hood as a bitter rival.

Make no mistake - Gisborne dishes out cruelty with the best of them.

He also weathers many heartbreaking blows dealt to him. Seasons 1 and 2 have already aired in England and on BBC America. Season 3 is now shooting in the forests of Hungary. Ask me if I'm constantly trying to work out what is in store for Guy. If I'm on the right track, he's heading for a complete meltdown.

4 - For a stretch and a change of pace, Richard played Harry Kennedy in the 2-part finale of The Vicar of Dibley. Closing out a hugely-successful 12-year run on British television, The Vicar of Dibley starred Dawn French as an extremely non-traditional village vicar.

Harry Kennedy is a London accountant who moves to Dibley to get away from it all. Vicar Geraldine Granger is positively certain that he'll be just like all the other townies who are merely weekend residents who don't give a fig for the village. She loathes him until he opens the door to her welcome visit.

Harry's attraction to the far-from-size-6 Geraldine is pure magic for women everywhere!

You gotta love a guy with a sense of humor. "I was sitting on a train," Richard said, "reading the scripts [for Dibley], and crying with laughter, and all these businessmen were turning round tutting at me. You don't often read scripts that make you laugh out loud."

Richard in rehearsal for Dibley.

5 - If you were gravely injured, regaining consciousness to this sight might cure a heck of a lot.

Richard played Dr. Alec Track from the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service in The Golden Hour for British television.

The title refers to the critical first hour after traumatic, life-threatening injury. Treatment given during the golden hour greatly increases a person's chances of survival.

6 - Who can resist a man who tells bedtime stories for CBeebies on BBC?

Richard reads I'm Not Going Out There by Paul Bright and Ben Cort.

7 - I really love how Richard wields a sword.

And his stunt fighting in particular - really, Richard, can't you put some effort into it...?

No wonder he's so great at stage combat. He was gunning for his Society of British Fight Directors qualification at one point.

“In reality they’re really heavy," Richard points out. "But we have lightweight versions, obviously, because we’re not strong enough.”

8 - What could be better than a sword-swinging hottie? For me, a triple-threat trumps even the swordsman. Early in his career, Richard played Macavity and Admetus in UK touring shows and West End productions of Cats.

Macavity, Macavity, there's no one like Macavity,
For he's a fiend in feline shape, a monster of depravity.
You may meet him in a by-street, you may see him in the square -
But when a crime's discovered, then Macavity's not there!

He also appeared in a UK touring production of 42nd Street.

He's got a trained baritone voice as well as the moves. Oh, to see him in action...

9 - If that weren't fabulous enough, he also plays guitar.

Oh yes - and he also plays cello.

Photo by Pat Tinkley

And flute - did I mention flute?

10 - Having been trained in dance and movement, Richard puts a great deal of physicality into each role, I've noticed. His posture and gestures change according to the character he's playing, more than most actors I've seen. Here as John Thornton, he's literally dashing to secure his mill against striking workers.

In Ultimate Force he plays Captain Ian Macalwain, a stuffy officer overwhelmed by the true leader of the unit, the working-class soldier carrying the ball at right. Even in this rugby scene, Richard uses his body language to show that his character is in over his head.

As painfully shy John Standring in BBC's Sparkhouse, Richard curls into himself and tries to shrink his 6'2" frame when speaking to the woman he fancies.

Here as Guy of Gisborne, though he's been pinned to the wall by a knife thrown by Robin of Locksley, his body language continues to transmit a threat.

And he looks magnificent on a horse.

“You just have to keep on top of it physically," Richard says, "because you'll do three or four weeks without doing anything. And then all of a sudden you're into a really big fight sequence. So if you don't train properly you can injure yourself. The same with the horse-riding as well. If you suddenly get on a horse after three weeks of doing nothing, you really cannot walk the next day so you have to keep your body in shape.

“I run and go to the gym quite a lot. The scripts come in quite late - you open a script and realise you've got to be seriously fighting or naked from the waist up and you've got to be ready for it.”

12 - As he did several times in Cold Feet, playing flirty lifeguard Lee Richards.

"I was nervous as hell at my audition," Richard says. "When they handed me the script at the door, the first thing I saw was 'and he took off his top to reveal perfect abs'. I spent the whole time in agony, convinced they were going to make me strip and throw me out the door."

It's tough being a nasty piece of work - but Richard makes it hurt so good.

"I wanted people to be repulsed by this character," Richard says. "And so part of me feels like I’ve failed in a way [due to Guy's huge popularity] because I wanted people to squirm and feel uncomfortable when he was doing his dealings. But I kind of understand why it’s gone in this direction. And I think it’s because there’s a bad character who’s shown evidence that he’s redeemable. But I think there might be some unwinding of that feeling in the second series.”

11 - I really love Richard's come-hither gaze. Here he plays Paul Andrews, a youth probation officer married to a sex therapist in Between the Sheets.

Here he flirts away as the lifeguard in Cold Feet.

My absolute favorite is the way he looks at Margaret Hale in North and South.

13 - Richard gets the award for Most Romantic Kisser Ever.



Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Think he'd make a good rock star? Hmmm....

Julia Phillips Smith said...

I think he could pull it off rather broodingly...

Lori said...

He sure is handsome:) Hubba hubba...Happy TT.

Shelley Munro said...

When I first started reading this I thought I don't know him, but it turns out I do! I love him in Robin Hood. Our season has just finished over here. I remember him from Vicar of Dibley and Ultimate Force. He's obviously very talented.

Great TT, Julia!

Anonymous said...

YAY As a menmber of the Armitage Army I'm not going to disagree with a word of this.....gorgeous, talented and such a sweetie to his fans bless him.

Karina said...

Julia, thank you for a bit of eye candy this morning. I wasn't familiar with him before this, but I think I will have to look his works up... ;-)

Happy Thursday!

Anonymous said...

Ah sigh, he is indeed one beautiful man. I loved North and South immensely. Nice overview, Julia! I like the swimming pool shot :)

Julia Phillips Smith said...

Amandajane17 - glad you found my post featuring Richard. The Armitage Army site is a favorite stop for me!

Kelly Boyce said...

Thanks. I nearly shorted out my keyboard at work drooling over the pixs and videos. Someone get IT on the phone...

Julia Phillips Smith said...

Kelly - I should have warned you...

Anonymous said...

Ooooh... he's totally HAWT! *wiggles eyebrows*

Darla said...

Hmmm. I don't think I've seen him in anything. Obviously, I've been missing out! :)

Anonymous said...

I've never seen him before - a little embarrassed to since I watch so much British movies and TV. But I can't stand the heart wrenching stuff.

OH, have you seen Stardust? We just rented it - it's wonderful.

Brightmyer said...

OMG! Richard is such a hottie! I never miss an episode of Robin Hood. I'm so glad I found your post!

Her Grace, Heidi, the Duchess of Kneale said...

Oh, he makes my heart sing.

Can't wait to see him as Lucas North.

Also, you've posted some pics I've not seen before. Thanks!!

Jennifer McKenzie said...

Wow! I Lurrrrve him.

Julia Phillips Smith said...

Lady Heidi - I can't wait for 'Spooks', either!

Wylie Kinson said...

Okay - you convinced me!! Is RH avail on DVD, d'ya know?

Unknown said...

Just put North and South on hold at the Library. He's also in Spooks - MI5 here in Canada which I've been watching on DVD

Julia Phillips Smith said...

Wylie - yes, I just got my copy of Season 1 from Amazon and Season 2 is on its way. By the way, Richard could be very Dark Angel of Rock...

M. said...

my favorite british actors are wallace and grommit
followed by rupert everett

Olga said...

very informative, except you did not tell us the most vital bit of information...does he wear boxers or shorts??!

Julia Phillips Smith said...

Olga - LOL! I've never actually spoken to Richard Armitage, and I'm not sure how I'd fit that into conversation, exactly...


Anonymous said...

Utterly luscious in all regards.

Alice said...

If I were in a conversation with him, that would probably be my first question xD
My second would most likely be 'WHy are you running away from meee?!?!'
followed by lots of fansqueals xD
He is officially my favourite actor - you gotta love the brooders xD
North and South is the best period drama I've ever seen :D

Lilly Cain said...

I'd never seen any of these movies/shows except the Robin Hood series, and it took me a while to like him. But I do, strangely enough, and some of these other movies you've pointed out are sounding pretty interesting. I'll have to look for them, particularly the Derby series.

Traxy said...

What an excellent post. With loooots of lush pictures, yay! :D

Anonymous said...

Ooh, great. I think he's utterly fabulous. First saw him in Robin Hood and was smitten! Then tracked down North & South and Spooks (aka MI-5), Thanks for all the info in your posts, with it I was able to get DVDs from my local library and can now look forward to MORE wonderful RA viewing!
Kaaren in Canada