I cannot believe I’m referring to myself in third person again. If SO saw this, he would have a field day with it. I can hear it now, “What are you Elmo or Jimmy or something?”
Okay, the point — I turned off my phone for a few days, and I haven’t been on the Net, much. All of this was at the request of SO, who said, “Do you think you could navigate without that for a day or two?” Then he grinned. How could I resist?
And you know that old saying about familiarity breeding contempt, so I think staying away from Richard Armitage pics and video for a few days was a good thing and apparently didn’t put a damper on my ardor.
Back to the point. This is my long way of saying, please forgive me for not replying to email and messages. I have not been ignoring you — no one specific anyway. I just needed a break. But I’m back now, so give me some time to get caught up.
Thanks for being patient!
Hmmm. This needs a picture. But what would fit? Not sure. While I’m typing this sentence, I’m letting my mind wander. Got it.
Yes, I’m telling the truth, Rich. And I feel so good now that I realize I CAN survive several days without my phone and very little Internet. I know you like your phone, and oh yeah, your iPad, but you might give this a try sometime. :D
Note: this is a photo I haven’t been inclined to use because he looks so much like my dad in this one. Yeah, I can see my dad’s scolding look, and it looked just like that.
edit: When I got back on Twitter last night, I saw a blog piece by MicheleR with an update about Inspector Lynley. LOL! If you’ve never seen the show, go check out her blog.
This was going to be a Valentine’s post, but I can’t hold back any longer!
Tom Jones never fails to put me in a good mood even if I’m determined to fight it. I challenge you to listen to these songs and not end up with a silly grin on your face. I could just put up the videos of his live performances and make you go beyond grinning to laughing out loud, but this isn’t about Tom’s gyrations. It’s about the very hopeful sound of these tunes and lyrics.
Okay, this one is super sexist and dated, but hey, I’m still smiling:
Come to think of it, most of these are sexist and dated. LOL!
Some more trivia: I saw What’s New Pussycat? in the movie theater when I was a kid. This was the first time I heard that Tom Jones (ne: Thomas John Woodward) was a distant relative. I cannot remember how. Need to ask Mom sometime. It’s only been 30+ years since we talked about it. Yes, I’m admitting how very old I am. LOL!
Last but certainly not least:
Does Richard Armitage like Tom Jones’ music? I don’t know, but I imagine him grinning when he hears it whether he likes it or not. :D
Yeah, I know you wanna laugh, Rich:
“Oh, I want to, Frenz, but I’m supposed to be serious now.”
Yeah, sure you are.
*My favorite story on that DVD set. If you haven’t watched Shakespeare Retold, run and get it!
Ali over at RichardArmitageNet.Com just put up some screencaps of RA in ‘Doctors’ (c. 2001). Yes, I’ve seen these before, but I’ll bet some of you haven’t:
A few thoughts about these. First, he is drop dead gorgeous by almost anyone’s standards. Second, I know a few childhood experiences can damn near eclipse a profusion of experiences in adulthood, but my gosh! this man has to have some awareness that he’s not ugly. Third, I look at those two pictures and get hacked all over again at that godawful cover of ‘North and South.’ I’ve said it before and I can’t help repeating: whoever did that cover must have been jealous!
edit: Yes, I’m going get back to Lucas North, but I’m still struggling with my blog pieces.
See Diary Part 25 here, or to access all entries, hit “The Diary” tab above.
Entry — a day or so later in 2008:
So what is wrong with me? I have developed this aberration in my behavior which requires I look at the Armitage Army forum at least once a day. It’s been going on for weeks and makes me wonder about myself. Why am I looking at this thing every day? Maybe I’m this bored or maybe I have gone nuts? And of course I can’t help asking why. Am I needy? I’ve been needy at times, and this is definitely meeting some sort of need. Thankfully, I haven’t said much on the board since I really have nothing much to say. I said a few things when I first joined but certainly nothing of any value. I have said too many things in my life when I had nothing of any real value to say. I just want to read what these others are saying. It’s fascinating, and I’m a shit for putting everyone under the magnifying glass. Then again, that’s what I do, and I doubt I’m going to stop at this late date. I just wish I took more joy in it.
And dear Mr. Armitage is firmly under the glass. What is this guy about? I can’t figure it out, and I want to. I see all of these people talking about how he’s very private and all that, but then I read his interviews, and I don’t know what to think. He’s been very candid about his life, as if he has a clear conscience, and he’s actually talked quite a bit. Of course print interviews can be so misleading. I certainly ought to know that. SO has been interviewed countless times in our little part of the world, and if I only went by what I read in the papers, I would not come close to knowing what he’s really about. But one thing that is interesting about SO’s interviews is the writers are all impressed by the same thing about him — his honesty and humility, and not a fake kind of in your face honesty and humility that says look at me, but just something that’s so much a part of his being that the writers can’t help but notice it. That much definitely comes across. I find this is a common thread in the interviews of Richard Armitage as well. Or maybe he’s just really good at playing honest and humble. My gut says no, he’s for real.
But I did get tickled at the interview where he’s promoting ‘Cold Feet’. Humility was not so much the watchword as brutal honesty. He sounds like a big kid, and this just endeared him to me even more. There is no artifice and little or no spin. I loved it!
Click for full photo.
And it’s interesting the character he plays is all about spin. Yep, I bought the DVDs, so I’m in for a few more bucks investment in Mr. Armitage. I’m glad I bought that multi-region DVD player, or maybe not LOL!
Then toward the end of the interview he talked about Cleopatra being crap, and I about fell off my chair laughing. Oh, you are so right, Mr. Armitage. Crap indeed, and a comedy. SO and I watched it again the other day and howled with laughter, and SO still doesn’t realize squat about Richard Armitage being in this. We usually just watch Caesar’s death scene when we need a good laugh. Well, that and Cleopatra cruising down the Nile. ROFLOL!!
And how interesting that Richard Armitage is going to co-star with Hermione Norris in ‘Spooks’, I cannot wait for that! Not sure how in the heck I’m going to watch it, but I’ll find a way. There is no chance I’m going to wait until it’s on Netflix. So far they only have up through Series 5.
I have so many other things I want to say, but I’m too tired to say it all today, and I’m glad I started journaling, so I can capture some of what I think even if some of it is stupid. I kept wondering what good was it to record all of those hideous things? I was wrong as I’ve been wrong about so many things. So today was one year of me writing all of this…. I’m not sure what to call it, and I’m afraid to go back and read all of it. I tried to read some of it a couple of weeks ago, and what I found was astonishing and humbling.
What was I saying about just enjoying something for what it is and not nitpicking? I’m the worst. I just can’t stop asking why. And is that so bad if it’s just me doing it in my head? I know dammit, it requires some wisdom. Oh, do I know it requires some wisdom. But I’ve been successful (at least by the world’s standards), and a lot of it had to do with asking why in my head about whatever was in front of me. It’s the why that made me successful! It’s the why that was the key! But it’s also the why that made me walk away from all of that. It’s the why that made me call bullshit on so many things. And that was wise. I have only to look at my children to know it was wise. They would not be who they are in part if I had not walked away from all those things which made me subject to such praise. A sacrifice? Maybe it seemed that way a little at first, but now? No, it was no great sacrifice. They are turning into people of great character who are inspiring me! But it could have been so different. I could have looked back at my life and been aware of how great it looked to the world but my children would have probably been at loose ends, and I certainly wouldn’t have known them. Not as I do now.
I had such a good time reading Richard Armitage’s interviews, which were only up to a few Spooks 7 promotional pieces at this point in the journal. More on that later. But I have to comment on how friendly he sounds. When I saw him in the powhiri ceremony, it reminded me so much of him as the big goofy kid promoting ‘Cold Feet’, and I have it on good authority that he is immensely well liked on ‘The Hobbit’ set. Dare I say a favorite? Yes, I dare since I was also told that the group picks who will represent them at a powhiri ceremony, and they chose Richard. The crew and in particular the Kiwis were rooting for him:
“…as a Kiwi, it is important to see the reaction of the knowing crowd to Richard’s performance. See the guy at the last row, on the left, Mark Hadlow, Kiwi actor? He is so proud of Richard. This is a man who has seen many powhiri so knows what is cool…”
I think the New Zealanders might want to claim him as theirs. :D They see something I and many of you see — a keen mind and a self-deprecating yet not mean-spirited humor coupled with a great work ethic. A work ethic that says you’re important enough for me to learn Maori and represent you well. The Kiwis got the honor done to them, and if there is anything I’m learning, it’s that the general psyche of the Kiwi people is to adore those who don’t take themselves too seriously and who are team players:
We Kiwis are very laid back “she’ll be right, mate” attitude, and we all muck in (help out) when needed.
I think it’s apt to say he made the team proud. :D
And I don’t know exactly how Richard Armitage feels, but I’m falling in love with the Kiwi people. The more I read and listen to them, the more I want to go to New Zealand, and it has nothing to do with Richard Armitage. Seriously.
Last but not least, James Nesbitt is supposed to be one of the nicest people you would ever want to meet. A real prince of a guy, so I’m not going to ever say anything catty about Jimmy.
I thought this would never get here! My very juvenile self has been dying to give these books away to people who really enjoy Richard Armitage. Actually, I’m just announcing one of the winners. The other one I haven’t heard from yet, so who knows? Maybe I’ll draw a second time for that one? ;-) No, I have a feeling I’ll hear from them. :D
But I have to confess this has been so much fun that I want to do it again sometime soon. I have two more copies of LOTN and a little stockpile of Heyer books, so I’ll definitely be doing it! And I have to thank AudioGo again for supplying the books in this giveaway. Thank you so much; the gift helps prolong the fun for next time. Until then:
And of course I had to ask Anakris to respond:
These are wonderful news! Coming to work in a rainy day like this and find out that I won this audio book… just made my day!
You asked me to tell you something about myself, so I have to ask you back: “Me, as a person? (…) I have 45 years to talk about”. (I keep feeling butterflies in my stomach every time I hear that). Although I have all those years to talk about (I wont, that’s a promise) I only came to know about Richard Armitage, early this year, through a dear friend of mine who send me a link to a video of The Vicar of Dibley, warning me on the side effects of the expression “well, there you go”. And there I went! From that day on a hurricane of RA information took over my computer, my TV was flooded with new DVDs, films and TV Series, and my MP3 is almost reaching melting point. Venetia as read by Richard Armitage, kept me company while waiting for my children to get out of school, everyday during 2nd period and now Lords of the North will do the same during the 3rd one! Again, all this I owe it to my friend Sandra (who is also a frequent reader of this blog) so I think I should publicly thank her from the bottom of my heart and obviously, I’ll be sharing this piece of melting chocolate voice with her!
Reading to your blog, Frenz, is now part of my daily routine, and while doing it I find myself many times nodding at your comments and thanking you for being so accurate and objective. Talking about RA being handsome, and hunky, and breathtaking, and (I’ll leave it here) it’s easy but I think all of us here agree that RA is so much more than just a pretty face and you really honour that.
Keep on the good writing and, again, thank you for this opportunity!
Anakris so glad to meet you, and thank you so much for the kind words. It’s been my pleasure. Truly.
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Over the last two years, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know some of you beyond your public comments, and that has been one of the greatest parts of being a fan of Richard Armitage. Yes, I keep saying this, but it can’t be said enough! Let me put it like this. I’m thrilled that I jumped into this madness known as the RA fandom. What awesome, awesome people so many of you are, and now it’s my pleasure to share someone with the rest of you whom you may not know much about even if you’ve seen her comments here or there. Oh, and sometime in the near future you’ll be the recipient of some fun I have planned, which I could not have done without her help. I now think of her as a “partner in crime” ;-), Kaprekar.
So, Kap, have to ask you the requisite question. How did you become a fan?
I first saw Richard Armitage when he was revealed at the beginning of Spooks Series 7. ‘North and South’ completely passed me by, which is strange for me as I usually make an effort to watch new period dramas. It may have been something to do with having a six month old baby at the time! I had rather different priorities!
I watched the whole series and thought he was interesting and quite good looking. The series was a definite return to form, but other than that he made no particular impression on me. Roll on a year, and shortly before Spooks 8 started to air, I was searching YouTube for some clips of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and ‘Persuasion’ and lo and behold, here was this ‘North and South’ thing popping up all the time. Eventually I watched one of the clips and was soon watching the whole thing on YouTube. I guess once I realised that the tall dark and handsome cotton mill owner John Thornton was the same actor as the mysterious Lucas North in Spooks, I decided I needed to investigate further…
It didn’t take me too long to find these strange things called “fanvids” on YouTube, and I also found references to something called the “Armitage Army” and from one of the fanvids, Sexy Back, a reference to something else called C19. So I joined that forum, but found it rather overwhelming, and I couldn’t seem to find the ‘North and South’ board (very strange!). It was several weeks before I went back to investigate properly. In the meantime I watched the rest of Spooks 8, and between that and ‘North and South’ (now bought on DVD), I was a goner!
Those fanvids really should come with a warning. LOL! I wonder how much the fan community has heightened your interest since then?
It’s definitely heightened my interest. I joined several forums, C19 is my favourite, perhaps because I joined it first. It’s a wonderful community of ladies that is simply one of the best places I have ever found on the internet. I’ve also ventured onto blogs and Twitter, and I still find it astounding that there is so much activity out there about this one actor…I mean how many blogs are there that post regularly about him – ten? fifteen?
It was about fifteen or so at last count, but I think it’s increased since FanstRAvaganza started. LOL! Sorry to keep laughing, but well, I really am laughing. I can’t help it as it’s always fun to hear how others bite the dust. :D But what do you think about Twitter’s part in all of this?
Twitter has also been an enormously rewarding experience for me, in terms of reaching out to other fans. But with all these social networking opportunities, you get out what you put in, and sometimes I find it very hard to find the time to do everything I want to do, and go everywhere I want to go, as often as I want to. That may not make much sense!
It makes perfect sense!
Changing the subject a bit. I understand you play the piano and the flute. Is that still a significant part of your life?
I am a pianist first and foremost, and I played regularly up until we had to give our piano back to the person it belonged to a couple of years ago! Sad day! But I am working on getting my daughter to learn, so we will have to get something in that case. I learned the flute at school, so that is more “in the past” but it enabled me to play in orchestras and ensembles which was a fun thing to do. I was never good enough to play either the piano or flute professionally though, or even consider going to music college. I won’t admit to exactly how many years I have been playing the piano, but it’s a few decades!! I think I read that Richard played the flute too!
Yep, he does! Or did. I’m not sure where he stands with that now. Would be lovely to know.
I have to ask what are your favorite kinds of music? I don’t even care if it’s RA related. It’s always something I want to know from everyone!
When I was a child I listened to classical music almost exclusively – I think that is just what we had on in our house. I also used to record myself playing the piano and listen to that. In fact I was just reminded that I also used to record myself reading poems when I was a child. When I went away to boarding school, I began to listen to pop and rock music, the popular bands of the 80s such as The Police, and Duran Duran, and Madness (showing my age there!) just what was in the charts, and I explored music past and present from there. I became a massive fan of Prince in the late 80s. I have also become a fan of the music from musicals e.g. Oklahoma and Singing in the Rain.
But from the time I left university and started work, I lost touch with new music and tended to listen to my old stuff. It’s only recently (and completely down to my interest in Richard and the fan videos I have watched I may say) that I have started to listen to new(ish) music again, and I am finding it as interesting as exploring the music of the 60s and 70s in my youth. Muse is one example, but I am really still exploring.
I also understand that you take acting classes. I would love to hear about that! And of course how it may have changed your views of or helped you appreciate more the work that’s done by Richard Armitage.
I started taking the class about a year ago. It’s just a local acting workshop with about 10–15 regular participants. I joined because I wanted to develop my inter-personal and communication skills more for the sake of my work than anything else, and I have found business communications courses either not very useful or not able to meet my needs. But I think I may have missed my calling, because I find it just the most interesting and fun thing to do! It’s also really hard! Everything that you say or do during a scene has to be thought about beforehand. And there are so many things to think about – from basic stuff like making sure that you are facing the audience, and that they can see your face, to harder things like thinking about your character and what they are thinking about and wanting in a particular scene, say.
What is particularly interesting and surprising to me is the amount of improvisation involved in acting (or developing as an actor), and how it starts off being terrifying but then, after you get used to it, it becomes something that is really enjoyable and something that you just have to throw yourself into. Also it’s often what you are doing when you have no lines at all to say that reveals most about your character. It feels like teetering on the precipice of something – you feel like you are going to go over the edge but you just manage to stay on. I also think it’s important to keep trying different ways of doing the same thing and not be afraid to do something where you feel foolish – in fact you have to commit – because faking it just doesn’t work.
This is making me appreciate RA’s work slightly differently (and similarly the work of other actors), in that I am becoming more aware of the work that must have gone into any given scene and that there are usually several ways in which to play a scene, and the choices that the actors and the director made have a big impact on the final result. But it’s early days for me still, and I am learning all the time, I am just beginning to really appreciate how powerful it can be to slow down, and pause and find special moments when you connect with another character.
In that vein, has being a fan had an effect on your general creativity?
Well, I don’t do graphics or fanvids or write fanfiction or anything like that…so I can’t lay claim to being more creative in those respects. But being a fan has led to a reigniting of my love of reading, something that I haven’t been unable to indulge myself in so much since starting a family. Reading North and South, Heyer, Bernard Cornwell and also fanfic has made me remember all those feelings I had when I found good books for the first time. I was not a Heyer fan before listening to the audio books, I tried a couple as a teenager, but they always seemed to be very lightweight reads, and I gave up quickly. I think I should have stuck with it, because I realise now how some of them are gems in their own right, though the language is quite…interesting at times…and they are essentially light reads. But since listening to Sylvester and Venetia, more particularly, I have picked up a few others and am working my way through – but there are lots of them I have to say! Will take me quite a while.
Ah yes, the audio books. LOL! As you know, I’m covering RA’s voice work, so I’m really curious what is your favorite?
For audio work as a whole I would have to say the ‘Words and Music’ poems, particularly Preludes by T. S. Eliot.
I have listened to them hundreds of times, literally. They are like spoken songs to me. Aside from the lovely, earthy, gravelly voice, I suppose I like them so much because of the pacing and rhythm of his reading and because of the beautiful expression and meaning that he uses in every word like when he says “flickered” you can just imagine the light flickering on the ceiling. And when he says “short, square fingers stuffing pipes” I see it happening, in my mind.
But for audio books, my favourite would be The Lords of the North.
Oh my! It’s definitely my favorite too, and I defy anyone to listen to even a few minutes of it and not come away wanting to listen to the whole thing and in spite of it being about a very violent period of history. Listening to it turned me into an audio book lover. There is only one problem. I’m spoiled to his narration. He has set a high standard for me, and now I want to hear him reading countless books. Is there anything in particular you would love to hear him read?
Well of course I would love Richard to read North and South. Wouldn’t we all? But I have more or less accepted that this will never happen. So I would personally love to hear Richard read The Hobbit, and I have not given up hope that this might happen. Of course the obvious person to read that audiobook would be Martin Freeman, and he has done audio books before (e.g. he read a version of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, another movie he starred in), but…you never know…I live in hope.
I’m with you, and maybe he should read the whole Lord of the Rings trilogy! We may have to start a campaign. :D
You know I’ve shared others’ recordings of what they think of RA and how he’s affected them. I’m happy you agreed to share yours as well:
Kap is married with two young children and obviously hails from the UK where she still lives.
For those who listened to the excerpt of Lords of the North and are now curious to listen to the entire book, or if you already love it and would just like to have your own audio book or an additional book, I have two to give away. The books are courtesy of AudioGo (BBC Audio Books) and rules for the giveaway are found here. Good luck! :)
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Richard Armitage is the epitome of tall, dark and handsome. Probably most reading this heartily agree, and some who have no clue about him would agree if they watched him. What did the interview referenced in my last FanstRA piece say?
He is tall (tick), dark (tick) and handsome (tick), with piercing blue eyes (double tick). Ladies, your swoons have not been wasted.
Oh, I know they’re well placed, but not for the obvious reasons. There are so many good looking actors to swoon over. Legions whose looks are worthy of the description above. Take a trip to Hollywood and you will literally see them everywhere you go. But they’re visual cotton candy. There is nothing that inspires beyond a few moments because beautiful as they are, they never get beyond the viscera of your thinking. Even many of the thoughtful actors rarely get much beyond it. Or maybe that’s just me. Maybe it’s just me who seldom repeatedly examines even an actor’s great performances beyond the event in order to mine something more profound. Sometimes I might examine the lighting or the body language or any number of practical aspects to determine what it was that was effective in conveying the message, and I might relive the performance repeatedly in my imagination in order to feel the thrill of it again. But to find the message enigmatic and compelling because of the actor’s portrayal and forcing me to go beyond the obvious to try to root out what is deeply embedded in my brain? To make me examine something about myself and why I was really so struck by it? No, that seldom happens with performances. Maybe with books, but usually with performances I know why I’m affected. I know immediately and can often verbalize it.
And then there’s the actor himself. Very few when interviewed or when speaking for any length of time really hold my interest. It’s almost always a let down. But enter Richard Armitage, who has made me question countless things with his portrayals, and I can’t stop doing it. The fact I’ve done this has puzzled me to no end. Yes, I’m still puzzled, but I love this. I love being puzzled, being in a continual state of curiosity, and the irony of him is that the more he speaks, the more I’m curious. Wow. I think of the artists who are generally considered enigmatic, and much of it was effected by the fact they weren’t talking. They only let their art do the talking, and probably wisely kept their mouths shut to maintain the mystique. But let this guy talk, and he becomes more interesting and makes me wonder what I’ve been missing. Case in point:
I have not been a fan of fantasy although I’ve read some science fiction and some classical fantasy novels. Mostly done to ensure my education was not lacking. But I am rethinking that interest and was rethinking it long before I knew Richard Armitage would be in ‘The Hobbit.’ It’s been coming to me for a long time now that I almost killed my imagination in the pursuit of control. I’m so sorry about that, but I’m not dead, so it’s not too late for me to regain what was such a rich part of my childhood. Richard Amitage has definitely been inspirational. I’ve also always loved words but was never encouraged to really play with them or learn how to shape things with them. My talents so obviously lay in another area, and that is where I was continually directed, but it never satisfied. Armitage gets credit for rekindling my interest in words to the degree that I’m now doing something about it! I mean how can I listen to something like this on the heels of listening to his audio books and not be inspired?
I said in one of my diary entries that a beautiful voice is not enough. The person must have something interesting to say. That’s where writers come in. But with Richard Armitage, he brings something to it I’ve rarely witnessed. He has a rich mind, keeps it well nourished and applies it to his craft. That is a great part of his ability to hold us all enthrall even if only using his voice. Much more than a pretty boy. He’s a thinker and we benefit from it.
And one of my favorite thinkers shares her reactions to his performances:
Servetus and I have had many discussions offline that have been such an enjoyment and encouragement to me. Although we bring our own observations and don’t always agree, we do have some things in common and have a mutual respect.
Photo courtesy of the Russian Richard Armitage Fan site. You can check out the rest by clicking on the photo.
Before I go any further with this post, I want to comment on the other FanstRAvaganza bloggers. They have some wonderful and just downright fun pieces. Hope you take a look!
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I had a debate with myself about this post, and I love it when I do that because no matter the decision, I win. So hang on. :D
Early on in my knowledge of Richard Armitage I read an interview with him where he mentioned auditioning for a part requiring an American accent:
[Richard's] been to a Los Angeles audition for a role as a CIA agent in a television pilot. Armitage tells a story about his casting session that just about sums up this man’s pleasing blend of confidence and modesty. “I’d practised my American accent really hard so I could get the part just right. When I finished reading, the casting people said, ‘Wow! That was great… Now would you mind doing it again with an American accent?’”
These were the days of my fan odyssey when I still thought Richard almost walked on water. That pleasing blend of confidence and modesty is indeed powerful. Sigh. …………………………………………………………………………….. Oh, Pardon me. What was I saying? Oh yes, I was really having a hard time believing he couldn’t nail an American accent. “The god known as Richard Armitage” not being able to pull American?! It wasn’t happening. Of course I was curious to hear him do it and heard it all sorts of ways in my head. Fast forward almost three years, and I finally heard him one night on BBC Radio 3. It sounded nothing like I had imagined:
My first thought was Nooooooooo! where has my RA gone?! I think I said to someone at the time that I would be fine with him never doing an American accent! Thankfully, it’s been a while since I listened to that snippet, and I find it doesn’t have quite the jarring effect it did the first time around. Yes, I’ve always appreciated his attempt, but it was hard not to dissect it. In fact, there was quite a discussion here amongst several of us. I think most Americans liked it, but it seems we all had pointers about how he could do it differently. Certainly, for the reading of Dos Passos, a New York accent was necessary, but I’m adamant about how his first foray into American should have gone. LOL!
I guess you know that many American women are fairly smitten with men who speak in English accents. Oh, you thought that bit in “Love Actually” was a joke? I would love to say it is, but a significant number of us are really that entranced by the voices of English men. So I have to admit that I already had a bias against you speaking American although I really wanted to hear what it would sound like.
I prefer you English. No need to sink to our level with an American accent. No, really, I mean that. But if you’re so inclined, some of us have a request of you:
Oh, you would definitely be charmed by it all. The part I love most is how outrageous we’re allowed to be by comparison to other parts of the country. ;-)
So I was thinking maybe a reading of Harper Lee, Walker Percy, or Flanner O’Connor next time.
One of your crazy fans whose love of a Southern Gentleman is only surpassed by love of an Englishman. :D
P.S. The South really does have the best food (ducks).
Apologies to my “Yankee” friends. I couldn’t resist. Seriously, I don’t care what accent he uses. Whomever he chooses to play and however he chooses to play it I’m sure will be lovely. I’m sure he will craft it well. If he can do Maori, I’m sure he can do American. But my control freak just had to get a plug in for something that would be like a dream to me — RA playing Southern Gentleman ala Atticus Finch. However, I stand by my food comment. LOL! And thanks to Angie for lending her talents again. She may have found a new profession. :D
Continuing on with FanstRAvaganza. Hope you hang with me. There’s another surprise if you do. :D
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I assume almost everyone who reads my blog is a fan of Richard Armitage, the actor, but occasionally people who are serious about politics land here looking for some bit of information on the guy who supposedly outed Valerie Plame. I’m sure other RA bloggers have experienced something similar. One visitor in particular, whom I’ll call Tory, was looking for an article about the U.S. State Department official and clicked on the ‘Who the Hell is Richard Armitage?’ post. Her first instinct was to back out, but curiosity got the better of her, and she ended up listening to clips from ‘North and South’ but never made it past those as she was so anxious to load it up on YouTube to watch the whole thing. She is now a fan. LOL! Eventually she sent me a note to share what happened to her, and several weeks ago I asked her to record something for me. She declined as she really is in politics and doesn’t want to make her fascination known. But she gave me permission to share some of her words:
I was just curious enough to press play on the first clip, and then he uttered, “I will be home to dress…” That was the moment I became fascinated. I viewed the entire clip but kept going back to the conversation with his mother. I have never been mad about someone’s voice, but I’m in love with his voice. I’m in love with him! When I knew I was ‘in the bag’ as you say, was listening to the radio play, ‘Clarissa.’ I cannot stomach the book. I cannot stand Lovelace, and I think I despise Clarissa more. Despite this loathing, I willingly sat through a four hour adaptation in hopes of hearing Richard’s Lovelace.
Phew! He does that whisper in his voice to perfection.
For those who have not read nor are familiar with Clarissa, it’s considered to be one of the first novels. Some say it was the first, but I don’t think that’s quite the case. I could be wrong about that. Perhaps one of our resident teachers/librarians will weigh in. Despite its standing in classical literature, I also hate that book! Clarissa is so put upon and silly that it’s hard to really root for her, and this goes on for around 1000 pages. Sheer torture. But as Tory put it, “The best part of the play is hearing Richard Armitage sing!”
When I first heard he was musical and involved professionally in musical theater and before ‘Clarissa’ was produced in 2010, I had been wondering if he could sing, and love or hate Clarissa, it was so worth finally knowing he could. One of the real benefits is that I became a rabid Radio 4 listener. I’m so sorry I did not have the pleasure before. More on this here.
Whether RA could sing or not, from my first introduction to him in early 2008, I wondered what quality it was in his voice that so fascinated me. It took me over a year to pinpoint. Thankfully, in 2009 I decided to stop writing all of my journal entries and record some of them. This helped me capture the thoughts that eluded me when I finally had a pencil in hand. I also quickly obtained some voice to text software so I wouldn’t have to hear myself while transcribing. LOL! Here’s an entry from August of that year:
It’s a wonderful thing about voices…. I was just listening to Sylvester, and I don’t even like those kinds of books….they’re boring, syrupy and talk about Mary Sue?….they’re replete with it. But you know (chuckle), I just love listening to it because of the range Richard Armitage has….It’s finally dawned on me what I really love about his voice. It’s the same thing I love about [SO's] voice and my son’s voice……there’s a melody in their voices, a song, a possibility. They always seem on the verge of breaking into a song or making a joke……or something. SO can’t sing and my son can’t sing, and I’m not sure if Richard Armitage can sing, but they all share that song in their voices. I don’t mean they sound sing songy but rather the modulation of their voices gives an expectation. And…it’s usually hopeful. I love that.
Yes, I was a bit harsh about Sylvester, but my friends, that’s how I felt. That aside, it’s the expectation in his voice that makes me come back over and over again to hear him. If it were just the deep timbre of his voice, I really could get that from Alan Rickman and so many others. But it’s something way beyond his vocal register, and it was so interesting to hear RA’s take on how he thinks of music and the voice and how he actually used music and in particular singing to help him craft his characters for the audio books! From his interview for The Convenient Marriage:
I always love hearing him talking about his preparation! I also have a soundtrack in my head. Almost everything in life is put to music; it’s a rare day when I don’t put everything to a rhythm. I wonder if this happens naturally with everyone. I really don’t know, but I do know that sometimes this is a curse for me. I wonder if that happens to RA.
If you’re enjoying this, don’t forget to enter the Heyer audio book giveaway. Details here.
Oh, and Tory hasn’t heard that interview clip, and I don’t think she’s seen the picture either. So I’m sure I’ll be hearing from her later. LOL!!
And she and I have come to realize that we not only agree about Clarissa and our fascination for RA but have quite a few things in common including some people we know. It’s been such a treat to get to know her, and she’s far from the only person with whom I’ve been developing friendships due to RA. So many of you I’ve had such pleasure coming to know! One in particular is always so pleasant and encouraging, and her joy is contagious. I wonder sometimes if she realizes what a delight she is. Iz4blue (aka Sinjoor):
Yeah, this is totally cool, and it really is all about the love. So well put.
Iz originally hails from Antwerp, Belgium; we’ve just had the privilege of her being part of the U.S. for the last several years.
By the way, she really does know how to ferret out some of the best videos and fan fiction, and there are so many that it’s good to have a guide. She has worked with Eva over at Wattpad to create an Armitage Fan Club, and it’s a great place to find fan fiction. The best thing about it is how easily it can be accessed from a phone, and for those of us on the go (whether we want to be or not), it’s a boon. Iz has also started a blog where she can bring all of the other good vibrations to our attention easily. With the publication of Sexy Back 3, maybe a top ten of RA montage videos? :D
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I started to call this post “A Little Hair of the Dog,” but I suppose for me this is “Day 3 FanstRAvaganza?” Yes, I’m behind on FanstRA, but do any of you care? I didn’t think so. LOL! Plus, there is so much to read on the blogs that I doubt anyone processed it all in one week. So I’m continuing on despite my interruption.
What I’m finding interesting about this last week is it’s becoming clear to me I’m at a place in my life where my ability to roll with the punches is imperative. This blog is certainly a reflection of it. Almost every post I had planned has now been turned on its head. Part of me hates this, but part of me gets a thrill from seeing how well I can bounce back. Now if I can figure out how to channel my zest in a way that’s not chaotic and doesn’t make some of you want to tear your hair out, I will, but I’m promising nothing. This is a significant statement from me as my life is filled with promises that I invariably keep or almost die trying. That’s as closely as I’m going to come to speaking of events this past week which temporarily scrambled my mind. Okay, enough of that. Onto more interesting matters.
As some of you know, I’m doing a series of posts about Richard Armitage’s voice work. Last week I started with The Voice. Hope you hang with me as I continue on with the subject.
Obviously, the deep tone of his voice is wonderful and many of us get a shiver listening to it. I’ve heard some say they could even listen to him reading the phone book. Not quite sure I would get much out of that. Maybe. Depends on how he would read it. There are plenty of other actors with deep, rich sounding voices that are pleasing to the ear. Alan Rickman is great, and Timothy Dalton has a beautiful voice, and oh so many others I could name, and I’m sure that Richard Armitage would do very well with just his natural voice. But the natural quality of the voice is simply not all there is to this fascination. In fact, if I had heard him only speaking as he does normally in interviews, I doubt I would have been this ensnared by it. No, this is something more. It is the way he intentionally uses it that’s so mesmerizing, and I don’t like to toss around words like mesmerizing unless I mean them.
Recently, I saw a picture of him where his luscious beard is gone, but contrary to what some think, that was never the significant wow factor in the Hobbit press conference. Granted, the beard was pretty overwhelming — almost with a life of its own. :D But it was not more compelling than his demeanor, which was mostly effected by his voice. He pulled a Harry! “I’m playing Thorin.” LOL! I think his voice dropped almost an octave when he said Thorin, and then he does it again when he says, “Would you like to be a little bit more specific?” I wish I could have seen the reporter’s face when he whipped that on her! It was like a snake charmer with his flute trying to cast a spell over something that might bite him.
This wasn’t the first time it occurred to me that he uses his voice as an instrument. In my initial watching of Robin Hood, I had the distinct feeling of his voice being played. There was something about the way he varied his pitch that almost had a musical quality and was certainly effective in manipulating me to emotions I never thought I could feel for the bad guy. I’m not one of those women who likes bad boys, so it was quite a shock when I was actually rooting for the evil henchman. LOL! When I first had this thought, I laughed to myself at being that far gone about a then very obscure British actor. Thankfully, I began to be vindicated as I listened to his first audio books for Robin Hood Series 1. (For more on Guy of Gisborne, see note below)
His mimicry in these books is great. I love how he conveys one character with a guttural tone and then turns around and gives another character a tinny, almost flat resonance, and every variation in between for a host of other characters. This did much to paint the picture of them with little or no dialogue or description. But I also had some idea of characters from watching the show and was never quite sure how much that affected the picture in my mind. It was listening to his reading of a Georgette Heyer novel, Sylvester, that I realized how very talented he is, and that’s saying something as I was never a fan of Regency Romance books. I tried to read them as a teen, but the potential sugar shock was too much. So it was with great reluctance that I listened to Sylvester. I’m so glad I did! His verbal rendering of the characters had me completely forgetting the book is Mary Sue on steroids. When I finished the first hearing of it, I had a grin on my face I couldn’t wipe away. For five hours I had been immersed in Regency England where I thoroughly fell in love with the characters and literally had to shake my head to bring myself back to the present. Of course I loved Sylvester and Phoebe, but it was the supporting cast that really made the piece for me. Tom was my favorite with Keighley and some others close behind.
The most wonderful part of listening to the book was afterward I could see Richard Armitage as a little boy with his ears cocked to listen to those around him and then using it to entertain his friends and family with storytelling. It brought such a warm feeling to think of it, and all at once I sensed a great kinship with and fondness for him. I couldn’t help it. I grew up with a mother who’s a performer and has a wonderful gift for it. I, on the other hand, never did, but I still adored storytelling and role playing and ended up with SO who has been storytelling and doing voices to entertain friends and family since he was very young. His children are just like him! My oldest child cannot be around someone for any length of time without picking up his/her speech patterns, and it’s eerie how truly she can nail someone’s speech. Her ear is so attuned to how someone speaks that she sometimes has to restrain herself from mimicking them. My other children do this as well, and I have been the recipient of many hours of entertainment because of it. It’s almost as if they have to express the things their ears are recording to get some relief. All of this ran through my head as I sat there basking in what I’d just heard, and I realized that I didn’t merely appreciate Richard Armitage as a great actor but as a wonderfully sensitive person –much more than I had originally thought. How else to account for someone who could so cleverly convey the feelings and thoughts of his characters with little or no speech, and now he had done it with only his voice?! Amazing.
As for his training, I don’t know if his ear for voices manifested as a child, but I suspect someone who has that keen an ear did not just develop it when he was grown. I also know that being a musician does not necessarily make someone a natural for voices. I am a musician, and I did not come naturally to an ear for spoken voices. Conversely, SO is not a musician, and he certainly has a keen ear for them. Maybe one day RA will tell us his experience, and if he already has and I missed it, well, I’m sure someone will let me know. LOL! Thankfully, some of my curiosity about his preparation was satisfied when I heard the interview for his second Heyer book, Venetia, about a year later:
I love that interview. It is one of my favorites. I was already anxious to listen to Venetia, but after listening to that, I could barely wait. Venetia is probably my favorite Heyer heroine of the three books RA read, and Damerel is wonderfully male. I was so glad I wasn’t driving when I got to chapters 12 and 13. :D I have also listened to The Convenient Marriage, and until recently, all three books were on my iPod as beloved traveling companions.
And whatever is the case with his training, the joy he takes in entertaining is evident and infectious.
Look at that face!
This puts a smile on mine every time I see it. I think it might now be my favorite picture of him.
If you have never had the pleasure of listening to any of RA’s Heyer audio books, or any of his audio books for that matter, or if you would just like to have your own copy of one of the books, I might be able to help. Until next Wednesday, March 30th, anyone who comments on this blog entry will be entered to win one of the Heyer audio books — your choice if you win. I plan to announce the winner on Friday, April 1st. I’ve never done a giveaway, so I hope this is a pleasant experience for all of us, but I do have a few rules. Don’t you love it! :D
Note: Guy of Gisborne is such an enigma that I’m refraining from much discussion of him in my series as he would completely take me off topic. Thankfully, other bloggers have chosen to write about him. Avalon at Avalon’s Medieval is covering a myriad of topics from the audio books to fan videos to fan fiction. Two other bloggers are actually fan fiction authors: Prue Batten at Mesmered’s Blog has written Gisborne and Sarah Pawley at From the Quill Tip has written The Tempest and My Lady Gisborne. Both share their stories on blog and Sarah also highlights some other fan fiction authors. I have read both Prue’s and Sarah’s works, and if you’re a Guy fan, you will not be disappointed. Even if you’re not a Guy fan, you probably won’t be disappointed. There are also some North and South fictions featured on Sarah’s blog.
Then there’s Judi at Confessions of a Watcher:
Judi is a fairly new fan and should be forgiven for not knowing every jot and tittle of fandom minutiae. We’ll give her a test later. :D I honestly didn’t snap to on the award for Robin Hood until right before I posted this, and I’ve been through hell trying to post, so I wasn’t going to wait, and I absolutely love her recording. But heck, I think the show should have won an award. If nothing else, RA should have won for making such a compelling character from that cardboard cut out baddie. But take pity on Judi as she’s still trying to work out her fascination for Guy of Gisborne. LOL! You can take the journey with her beginning here.