Friday, May 20, 2016

Richard Armitage

I am hoping to do a few posts about the different actors in both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.  Since I just finished binge-watching a show for four hours starring Richard Armitage, I decided it was only fair to start with him.

Here is a bit of biographical information:

  • His full name is Richard Crispin Armitage
  • He works as an actor doing not only live action in film and television, but theater and voice performance as well
  • Though his biggest break came as his role of Thorin in The Hobbit movies, he is also known for acting in the following: North and South (2004), Robin Hood (2006), The Vicar of Dibley (1994-2007), Spooks (2002-2011) and Strike Back (2010-2015)
  • He graduated from the London Academy of Music and Art
  • He has performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company
  • He has recorded audio books
  • He plays the cello and flute
  • A fun fact is that he uses method acting, and sometimes puts diaries together for the character he is taking on
Most information taken from "North and South" on bbc.co.uk

In The Hobbit
Thorin Oakenshield is probably one of the most challenging characters in the whole story of The Hobbit to play.  Richard Armitage would have to find a way to balance the leadership and determination of Thorin with his vengeance and greed.

You are probably aware that I, personally, am not a very big fan of The Hobbit movies for the most part.  One aspect of the films that I did admire however, was the acting.  Not all the acting was perfect to be sure--some of the reprized roles seemed particularly forced and/or overly fan-servicing--but I was impressed by two main actors, namely, Martin Freeman and Richard Armitage.

After seeing some of Richard Armitage's other work, I can definitely see that he often plays very broody and grumpy characters.  Thorin fits this description, to an extent.  Richard Armitage has a very deep voice and commanding presence which I think was very good for Thorin's character.  

I think the whole dragon sickness thing in the movie was very rushed (Thorin went from 0-60 in about fifteen minutes) but that is not Richard Armitage's fault (screenwriters, I'm looking at you     -_-).

His portrayal of Dwarven culture was much darker than John Rhys-Davies as Gimli, but given the circumstances and the obvious differences in personalities between the actual characters themselves (in the books, mind you!) I think he can be forgiven--especially when there are so many other Dwarves fooling around in the background throughout The Hobbit movies to make up for it.

All in all, Richard Armitage did a good job with what he was given in The Hobbit movies.

Other Work
Richard Armitage playing Mr. Thornton in North and South
Like I said, I just finished watching the BBC series North and South.  I found it on Netflix and at first I thought it was about the Civil War.  After reading the description, I found out it was actually about a cotton mill in the north of England.  I wasn't very interested, but seeing that Richard Armitage was in it, I decided to give it a go.

The first episode was quite melodramatic, and I found that I really despised the main character.  She constantly would presumptuously ask Mr. Thornton (Richard Armitage's character) loaded questions about the running of his mill which implied that he was an evil person.  I found myself literally cheering for Mr. Thornton though as he consistently fried her (no other verb for it!) and put her in her place.  

An example.  Margaret, the main character, decided it was her job to begin yelling at Mr. Thornton out of nowhere because he had fired one of his own employees who had been smoking in the cotton mill.  Little did she know that one of Mr. Thornton's previous mills had burned to the ground because of irresponsible employees like that one, and that he had already warned said employee not to smoke.

Margaret is put in her place time after time, but for reasons I still don't understand, Mr. Thornton falls on his knees declaring his love for her.  She rudely turns him down like he is the dirt beneath her slipper, and Mr. Thornton is completely distraught.  At this point I was already done with Margaret, but I was getting frusterated with Mr. Thornton--why can't he see that she is no good?

The end of the series of course ends up with them solving their differences (not really, just meeting at the train station and kissing...?).  I was not satisfied with this series at all.  I found it over dramatic, poorly acted for the most part, and not well plotted.  Boy was it entertaining, though!  My sisters and my mom and I all watched together and had a great time making fun of it.

About half way through the show I began calling Mr. Thornton "Mr. Darcy" because he looks and acts pretty much exactly like the Pride and Prejudice character!  As I was doing some research on Richard Armitage, I found that I am not the only one to make this comparison!  Apparently many people have noticed his tendency to take broody yet caring protagonist roles.

Richard Armitage in Into the Storm.  Note the destruction
in the background--this is the school post-tornado.
I also saw Richard Armitage in the film Into the Storm (2014).  He played a small town teacher who is in big trouble--along with the rest of his students--as TOULS (tornadoes of unusually large sizes) completely ravage their Midwest town.  

Frankly, I didn't even know that Richard Armitage was in this film.  It could be that I didn't recognize him or didn't notice him, but I was unaware he was the teacher, and therefore I can't comment on his acting.

To sum up, Richard Armitage is a good actor who, in my opinion, has worked on some projects which are probably not on his level.  I would like to see more of his work, particularly if it is a well-rounded, well-produced project.  His good acting is being suppressed by poor film making.  Best of luck to you, Richard Armitage!

13 comments:

  1. Oh dearie. Yes while I enjoy North & South (mainly because of Richard Armitage :)), I like the book better. You need to read it. I promise, it is a LOT better! Not only the beginning (Margaret and Mr. Hale go to look for houses and Mr. Thornton comes to the hotel to speak to Mr. Hale. Mr. Hale is out, so Margaret receives him and he finds her cold and stand off-ish because she is really tired and has a headache so she doesn't realize how cold she is being. And the ending.....oh my goodness!!!) You HAVE to read it!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh gee, I didn't even know it was a book! I suppose I should add it to my list of 103 books to read ;)

      Delete
    2. It is a book. Read it. I promise you, you won't regret it. Not only are the characters way better in the book, but the whole message of the story is amazing.

      Delete
  2. Oh yes, the book North and South makes Margaret's actions more clear. Though she is prejudiced and sometimes unreasonable, she is never intentionally mean or cold or prideful. Her facial mannerisms give that impression, and she is often unaware of it.
    I do love the North and South series though. It is melodramatic, but I love the characters and the setting. John Thornton is my favorite, and Fanny cracks me up. I love imitating Mrs. Thornton's voice.
    Richard Armitage was in Captain America: The First Avenger as well. :) It was a brief role, but well-played. I loved him in Robin Hood- Guy of Gisborne was my favorite character.

    By the way, how is you Merlin watching going? Have you finished the series yet?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I didn't know he was in that!

      Season 4 finale tonight!!

      Delete
    2. Ooh! XD I love that show. :) Who's your favorite character?

      Delete
    3. Oh gee, it might be easier for me to choose my LEAST favorite characters (Gwen--for her betrayal and the condescending way she speaks to Arthur, and Agravaine--for obvious reasons). I guess a couple of my favorite characters might be Gwaine, Arthur, and Merlin. Who are yours?

      Delete
    4. Merlin, always. Second to him is Arthur, when I'm not busy despising his jerkishness. :) I also liked Gwen, but I liked her best during her earliest days.

      Delete
    5. What did you think of the way Arthur pulled the sword out of the stone? I felt it kind of fell flat since it was really just Merlin who was doing it with magic--I'm having conflicting feelings regarding this latest finale...

      Delete
    6. I was a little disappointed by that, to be honest. I kind of like that "great destiny of the prophecy" feel from the original legends. It showed how though Arthur was fated to be great, he was still a fallen human being who made dreadful mistakes and still managed to be a hero.

      Delete
    7. That's a great way to put it--I guess I feel the same way. I almost get the feeling that Arthur is just Merlin's pawn in some ways. I'm hoping for better things in the next season!

      Delete
    8. *Bites tongue* I can't talk about the next season without spoiling something against my will! I have half a mind to- no wait, I can't even say that. Just watch it and then get back to me. >.<

      Have you seen the "looking for woodworms" episode? That cracked my and my family up so hard. XD

      Delete
    9. Ahhh okay! I'll be back :D

      Haha yes; when Merlin was sneaking around Arthur's room? So funny XD

      Delete