It’s funny sometimes how we discover new actors. I recently discovered Richard Armitage in a bit of a round about way. I began my path when I watched Downton Abbey on PBS, the period drama recently done by the same guy who did Gosford Park (Julian Fellowes). Though I’ve still only seen the American version with pieces cut out, it was a fabulous series with great actors and characters. It definitely left me wanting more. I was quite taken with Brenden Coyle’s character, and thought he did a marvelous job. Coyle’s Mr. Bates was the kind of person I’d liked to have known. So I looked him up to see what else he was in.
The first thing I found was a BBC production called North & South. For those of you in the U.S., no, this is not the long Civil War miniseries. It is an English period drama with romantic overtones based on a book by Elizabeth Gaskell of the same name, from the mid 1800s. I had not heard of it, so watching this four part movie version of the book was an unexpected delight. It also introduced me to the amazing talents of Richard Armitage. He played John Thornton, the stern master (operator) of a cotton mill in northern England. One of the first things I learned was that he very adeptly portrays complex characters, making you love them and hate them at the same time. Or you hate them at first, and then grow to love them. Or maybe you just love them all along.
This fantastic movie led me to see what else Richard had been in. Unfortunately, many of his credits are in things that I can’t get from Netflix or see on this side of the pond, but he did play a major part in Robin Hood. This three season BBC production was the kind of show I’d want to see anyway, and from the first episode, I was hooked. The entire show was well-cast, well-acted, well-shot, funny, adventurous, and highly enjoyable. And of course, there was Richard, playing Sir Guy of Gisborne in a love-to-hate-him but also grow-to-feel-for-him kind of role. As the three series went on, his initially one dimensional character quickly became two dimensional, and then three. Though incredibly modest, Richard seems to do everything that he attempts very well. He can smolder, attack, taunt, love, and roll his eyes with equal convincingness. And his voice…
Acting in Robin Hood is a bit geeky, but he has gone on to play roles higher on the geek scale. Richard has been acting for the past few years in the British action show, Spooks/MI-5. He’s got a role in the upcoming Captain America movie where he’ll play Nazi Heinz Kruger. And in March of this year, he starts shooting down in New Zealand where he’ll play the dwarf, Thorin Oakenshield, who leads the group of dwarves and hobbits on their quest in the two Hobbit movies coming out in 2012 and 2013. How they’ll shave a foot and a half off his height of 6′ 2″ I’m not sure, but I look forward to finding out. Major members of the cast (including Richard) recently participated in a Q&A session with the New Zealand press (he doesn’t say anything until 26 minutes in, and then he only talks for a little bit).
I don’t know if Richard himself is a geek, but he grew to his tall stature early in high school, and it seems he didn’t come into his own until later in life, finding more work in his 30s. (Does that sound familiar to anyone?) Also, he does love to read fantasy and science fiction.
Having seen and read several interviews with Richard Armitage, one of the reasons why he’s a Geek I Love is that he seems to be a real person. He’s very private about his personal life. He’s incredibly serious about his work, making up background stories for his characters and wardrobe, keeping a journal, and really engrossing himself in who each character truly is. It’s no wonder he has become such a successful actor. You never get the feeling that he’s acting. He takes my breath away with his acting skills and general presence.
I have no idea if Richard Armitage would want to join me for a board game night or to sit on my couch to watch the (original) Star Wars trilogy, but he’s certainly a Geek I Love. And he’d always be welcome.
Note to Richard: I hope you are not offended by your inclusion in our Geeks We Love series. Around here, it’s meant as a compliment of the highest sort. It means you are passionate about your work and your interests. And that your endeavors are the kinds of things in which we are interested.
23 thoughts on “Geeks We Love: Richard Armitage”
As a longtime watcher of Richard Armitage, I’m sure he would be honored to be called a geek, and in fact, he recently called himself a geek. 🙂
Welcome to the club, and we have something else in common. I’m also a homeschooler of many years. Have successfully graduated two children from homeschooling and am about to graduate another. Then I’ll just have one more left to school.
It goes way too fast!
oops, I forgot my link to the geek article:
Take care and all the best on the schooling.
RAFrenzy – Thanks for the link. I did (just earlier today) find another interview with him where he called himself a geek. I love how modest he is. That seems to be what comes from growing up a bit awkward and then coming into your own later in life. Plus he’s a fabulous actor. He has great range, and I can’t wait to see what he brings to The Hobbit.
I like to think of Mr. Armitage as the thinking woman’s actor. He is very adept at making us care about his characters and is thoughtful and interesting in his interviews. I once described him as the “friend I just haven’t met yet” because he does seem down to earth and grounded…and with a good sense of humor. Have you discovered his audiobook readings yet? I highly recommend Lords of the North by Bernard Cornwell, and The Convenient Marriage and Venetia by Georgette Heyer. There are also a few Robin Hood audiobooks he’s read. That voice is like velvet.
Welcome to the fandom!
I have seen his audiobooks, but haven’t gotten them yet. I keep hoping my library will get them, but not likely in the U.S. I could listen to him talk all day. A “thinking woman’s actor” is a great way to put it.
You must get a non region dvd player so that you can see his other works.
He is the thinking woman’s actor as Ann Marie said. A normal guy who lives next door, does his own housework and loves the DIY. He reads and not just the sports pages. Which is a plus for me. All of this and he is very easy on the eyes, too.
So glad you discovered him.
I bought a region free player just to watch Richard Armitage, and then I discovered this little jewel of a program:
Of course I love my region free player as well. 😀
RAFrenzy – I have VideoLAN already. How do you use it with non region DVDs? Just stick the DVD in the computer and use VideoLAN to play it? Thanks.
Yes. Just open videolan, select “media”, select “open disc”, then select “play”. If you have more than one dvd drive, you will have to select the drive; otherwise, it will default to your only drive. If for some reason you are asked to change the region default of your dvd drive, don’t do it. VL should not ask you this, but your system might. You are only allowed five changes, and I’m assuming that your system will allow this program. Most do; I just don’t want to assume. Oh, and this works on Macs as well as PCs. I use it on both. So no worries there. If you have any problems, feel free to send me an email. Heck, feel free to send me an email even if you don’t have any problems. LOL!
i was afraid to change the setings, so i got a pioneer player. this way i do not have to worry and it plays everything
and i have everything RA is in even this year’s love with his “smug man at party” role
Dear Jenny: how wonderful you have discovered Richard Armitage. He is a versatile actor and a very intense actor. He can express with his eyes that can leave you breathless or in tears.
Your blog is wonderful. Just wanted to say thank you – from one Richard Armitage fan to another.
Yes, a lot of us are just discovering him for the first time in the US. I wish he could just play Thornton forever, but I guess that would be pretty boring and limiting for someone with such breathtaking talent. I look forward to following his career for many long years.
Richard Armitage will forever be Mr. Thorntorn. 😀 I first saw him in the North and South miniseries DVD and have loved him since then. 😀
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