The First Love

I was looking at the ‘North and South’ promotional photos which were just uploaded to RichardArmitageNet.Com, and I realized how much I’ve neglected John Thornton…

Few times in my life have I been so struck by something that it resounded for years, but this obviously continues. Ironically, I wasn’t too enthralled with my first sight of him:

It took a few scenes later to begin to suck me in:

By the tea scene, I was entranced enough that here I am almost four years later still talking about the abilities of Richard Armitage. This sustained interest has had me often wondering if I were just a shallow person masquerading as someone with some depth or if there really is something intriguing about his ability to engage the audience. If I were to receive the theory posited by Skully, this fervor is mostly compelled by his very effective display of adoration for an object of affection. There is something to that thinking, but I’m hard pressed to think I would be enthralled by that for almost four years’ time. If I were looking for an ideal man or fantasizing about an ideal man, then maybe I could see her point. But frankly, I’m married to an ideal man — great weaknesses and all. He is masculine and yet artistic. He has a spark that draws many others, and he also has a bullshit detector the likes of which I’ve never encountered and an ability to articulate his impressions that makes people think as well as laugh at times. He’s been that way since I met him, and he only gets more interesting, and by some quirk of fate, he’s in love with me. So it’s hard to think I have some need to fixate on Richard Armitage for this. And to be clear, I’m not trying to characterize anyone as lesser who has that need. I’m trying to explain where I’m coming from.

But there is something in Richard’s abilities to pull me into his characters that has me continually asking how he does it! This is akin to my reaction to The Sun Also Rises the first time I read it. Jake’s scene in the church made me cry, and even today, it can still make me cry. Hemingway captured something real, and it was like a warm wave. I went on to read all of his works, and I am not obsessed with all of them, but the few that I am eclipse any shortcomings in the rest. The Nick Adams Stories in particular are a prized part of my library. I have numerous copies and loan or give them away frequently. I’ve also read any biography I could find on Hemingway in order to conclude how he approached his craft. I think I understand it now even if I do not quite have the ability to articulate it. I’m working on that. LOL! Same thing with Richard Armitage. I’m working on what exactly it is that has me firmly attached. At this point, it’s fairly clear it’s his ability to tap into the reality of emotion that Hemingway did, and candidly, I want to do that myself. It has definitely inspired me to try to articulate something I’ve adored since I was a child — truth.

Note: promotional stills #7, #8 and #13 are new to the N&S promo gallery on RichardArmitageNet.Com


  1. I get what you’re saying, Frenz. I’ve said before that RA reminds me of Stevie Ray Vaughan. SRV would open up when he played and just channel something else and I think RA has that same ability.

  2. Where did you say that? I would love read it, and if I have already, I’d like to read it again! :)

    BTW, did you ever get to see SRV live? Awesomeness, and technically he was not better than Eddie Van Halen, but Eddie is just a technician and has no soul like Stevie Ray.

  3. And if you didn’t write that anywhere, maybe you ought to. :D

  4. Wonderful reflection. I must admit that I do not feel remotely mature in my affliction for RA. I have no idea why his characters move me so much ( perhaps because they appear to be able to give love and need love at the same time???) or why I completely drool over a picture of the man. I want to move beyond fangurly status given my age and what I have going in my life. Reading other people’s points of view is helping me process this experience. But still nothing is clear as to the why? What is clear is that I want me some RA or anything else he has to offer whether it is JT or a Hobbit. LOL.

    SRV….I cried the day he died because I loved his music, and yet I never oogled his pictures or thought about him constantly…

  5. I don’t blame you for not being impressed when you first laid eyes on John Thornton, I wasn’t either. Having read the book before watching N&S I was shocked at that scene, I didn’t know how Margaret was supposed to get over the fact that he just beat up a guy who worked for him. Unacceptable behaviour Mr. Thornton, and as if that wasn’t bad enough he then screamed at her to get out! o_O

  6. I was totally impressed with John Thornton. That first moment on screen when he was overlooking his workers while cotton is snowing all over….meow. He looked beautiful and regal and in control. I thought he was so violent because he cared so much (yikes, I hate how that sounds…..I won’t delete because I don’t want to censor it but…trust me I know it sounds awful)…..I guess I was forgiving because I thought he cared but did not know how too….oh my….analyzing this will get me into trouble with myself. LOL.

  7. As into Richard Armitage’s appearance and his capacity to portray desire as I am by now, that wasn’t the reason for me, either, although I think that’s a component of it. DarlingDarling did a post on it being his portrayal of fidelity, which is intriguing, but which I don’t buy at all. It took me something like a year to figure out my reason. It’s nothing special but I am saving it for the blog. I hope I can post on this on my Armitagemania anniversary this year. It’s only about two and a half weeks away. Two years. I know I’m really a newbie still.

  8. In North and South it’s the sheer romance that gets to me although I do love the piece in its entirety. Richard oozes romance in this, in the way Thornton looks at Margaret, the yearning, the desire, the fleeting touches, the tender smile. Makes me tingle. No nudity, just the vulnerability of a cravatless throat, a heaving bosom, and no mechanical sexual gymnastics. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a hot scene done well and within context as much as the next person, but romance N&S style will do it for me every time…*sigh*

  9. Gracie, to give love and to need love at the same time.. so violent because he cared so much.. interesting observations of characters.

    Frenz, plenty of men out there who think they have a BS detector, but produce only more BS themselves. Either you know the difference or you can live with it! :)

  10. Yes, you are still a newbie, dear Servetus, but I forgive you! LOL. I can relate to what everyone has said here.

    I first saw “North &South” on Australian television not long after it had been shown in the UK but I was already a fan of Richard’s well before then.

    I can remember feeling a little shocked that John Thornton was so violent with that mill worker but I also admit to feeling that he just cared so much for the workers’ lives and the mill itself that his anger seemed justified – not the beating itself though!

    Like Gracie, I was impressed with Richard’s John Thornton and I still am but, in many ways, I prefer some of his more recent characters…..Guy, Lucas and John Porter. I know that’s heresy to some ladies but…..”well, there you go” as Harry said. Harry is so lovely, too,

    What I admire most, I think, is Richard’s ability to ‘become” the character he is portraying at any given time. He believes he is that person and he makes his audience believe it, too.

  11. The portrayal of John Thornton would not have been enough to sustain me for four years. But it was the performance that made me continue to watch Richard Armitage. As for why I’m still talking about him, it’s not about romance although, yes, N&S delivers on that in spades, and I love your description, Mezz.

  12. Gracie, Doesn’t matter if you’re a newbie or not. You’ve got thoughts, and thanks for sharing them.

    Sheepa, Yeah, it was quite a departure from the book, but I think it works.

    Servetus, I look forward to reading that. Very interesting about the fidelity. I’ll have to read that piece.

    Kathryn, I agree with you about perhaps preferring some of his other characters. I love John Thornton, but to date, I’m not sure he is my absolute favorite.


    LOL! SO can also put out a fair amount of BS, but I still trust his judgment in reading someone’s mail, as it were. The wonderful thing about him is that he’s never done it as a way to condemn someone or be superior. I admire that.

  13. Does that make me shallow? LOL! I have to confess to being a real romantic at heart, always have been. I was late to N&S, having fallen for Richard in later pieces (VoD, RH & Spooks, I adore those characters too) and was a goner for Thornton the minute I saw him amongst the flurries of cotton. Yes, even in spite of the violent introduction. I understood it, even while not condoning it. The commentary on the dvd explains that even though it wasn’t in the book, there needed to be some kind of shocking incident to make Margaret take an instant dislike to him, otherwise there was nowhere to go with her feelings for him.

  14. Gosh, that doesn’t make you shallow in my opinion.

  15. I think I’ve said this…somewhere..before, but I fell hook line sinker for Thornton early. Why? Because he reminds me so much of hubs. How? Because hubs will go beserk over anything remotely unsafe or close to a lie on this farm, whether it’s our cowboys, alien truck drivers, salesmen…it doesn’t matter who you are. I’ve seen him near tears over a calf that has gotten into a feed bunk, can’t get out and literally killed himself trying to get out. All because someone broke a safety rule…didn’t close the gates. I’ve never seen him get violent but today, fire and brimstone were in his eyes. Seems an employee lied to him. He related the incident to me then threw his glove across the garage. This is a man who is THE kindest, most gentle guy you’ll ever meet but will take BS just so far. Watch out when he’s been pushed too far. He can put you in your place with one look. Like JT. Oh those looks…

    But this is also a man, like Thornton, who lost his dad to a stupid accident (altho I don’t guess suicide in Thornton’s case, qualifies as an accident?) Both men have been thru the worst and react quickly and intensely to any infringement on truth and The Rules. I adored John when he defended his mill. No not the violence, but I also know that some folks only understand a swift kick in the butt. Stevens was one of those. IMHO. Thornton was my first love also. Well, after hubs of course, who looks nothing like JT.

    But, yeah Mezz, ” romance, N&S style” just blows my socks off. Every time. Hmmm, I think it’s in the DVD player right now. Must go check myself of a few facts. *cough*

  16. I’ve met Mr. NB, and he’s definitely a stand up guy. I wasn’t so offended by Thornton pitching a fit as I was so jaded in my thinking that it was designed to create instant conflict between the characters. In other words, it looked like a device when I saw it. But hey, obviously, it didn’t spoil it for me. LOL!

    I did tell all of you that I can be a bit jaded? Okay, just checkin’. :D

  17. I’ve had a week of saturating myself in N&S; numerous viewings, especially eps 3&4, watching the train scene and oh, that kiss, too many times to count, plus the soundtrack has been on repeat on my iPod and in my car. It’s Spooks this week… *grin*… no such thing as too much Armitage!

  18. I love a good old-fashioned romance, too, Mezz, so it’s nice to NOT always see too much flesh. Neither JT nor Harry needed to be less covered up in order to be extremely sexy, did they? I’m not complaining about seeing MORE of Lucas and Porter, by the way! I’ll take RA any way he comes!

    And even though I may rave about his looks and his sex appeal, (and yes, even go weak at the knees when he uses his magnificent voice to read poetry and audiobooks!), it really is Richard’s use of his wonderful talent that amazes and delights me most. I’m always waiting with great anticipation for its next outing!

  19. Well, see I wouldn’t have thought that because I hadn’t read the book yet. But the contrivence of the scene is something to consider. Oh heck. Who cares. I’m in love w/JT! He can do NO wrong.

    And then on the other hand, what RA does with that character and with all of his other characters is nothing short of stunning. That’s it. His performances leave me stunned.

    @Mess, it’s N&S today and tomorrow as I’m making candy. It’s timed to the 2 discs. Discovered the perfect timing last year!! Bwahaha!!!

  20. I hadn’t read it either. Well, actually I had read it, but so long ago,that I didn’t remember much about it. Like I said, I’m jaded. :D I’m smiling, but I’m also serious. I look at so many things with a jaundiced eye. I’m learning not to do that as much.

  21. @ NB Your middle paragraph sums it all up for me. Stunning is absolutely the word for it: stunning man, stunning talent, stunning performances.

  22. As I think most people know, it was Guy who introduced me to that wonderful creature Richard Armitage. It wasn’t love at first sight with the character, by any means. I am not the sort who is instantly attracted to the bad boys of the world; I married a good man who has much more in common with Harry Kennedy than Guy. Oh, yes–he looked totally hot in all that black leather and eyeliner, but that wasn’t what made me “fall” for Richard Armitage.

    The more the watched, the more I realized this actor was doing something special with this character and turning him into a lot more than the standard cardboard cutout of a henchman. My heart was wrenched when Marian left him at the altar.

    Guy became real to me–a flawed, damaged man, capable of violence and brutality,yet also capable of tenderness, bravery and a willingness to put himself in harm’s way to protect the woman he loved.

    Richard breathed life, heart, soul into Guy. I cared about this character, hoped for him, cheered him on.and ultimately cried for and mourned him.

    And if he could do that with this character on a cheesy kiddie show, what, I wondered, could he do with other roles? And so I got the DVDs for Sparkhouse, North and South and VoD. And I knew I was truly a fan of this actor. How could the same fellow so totally inhabit each of these roles and make me a believer in all of them?

    He is most fair to gaze upon, undoubtedly–and I often celebrate that in my vids and my fiction. But Richard is so much more than another handsome actor with a fit physique. His intelligence and training and his intuitness in performing each character really impresses me. Smart is very sexy to me.
    And this is no dim bulb. I always loved the arts and here is a man who can act the socks off many others and sing and dance and do it all with keen professionalism and dedication to getting it right.

    I saw John Thornton as the man Guy might have become if he’d been left with a strong parental figure who supported him through thick and thin instead of having no one but the vile Vasey in his life.

    There is no other more swoon-worthy onscreen kiss than the one John gives Margaret at the train station. Richard gave us the ideal romantic period drama hero in Thornton–passionate, putting such feeling into the merest glance, touch, gesture; strong-willed, steadfast and boy, does he carry off period dress with such panache.

    He isn’t my favorite character; Guy, of course, is my number 1, and I fell in love with Lucas the moment he stumbled out of that trunk. Porter ended up running neck and neck with Lucas and Harry, oh–well, he reminds me so much of the funny, loving and dear, dear man I have called my husband and my best friend for more than 25 years now.

    I realize I have rambled on far too long about much more than JT but as to my reasons for becoming and remaining a fan after three-and-a-half years–well, I am not sure there is a simple answer. I do find him pretty much the complete package. Technical proficiency married with great intelligence and the passionate soul of an artist with a gentlemanly modest nature. all rolled into one uniquely beautiful male.

    I have admired other actors, found them attractive and sexy and talented; but for me, there is no one else that quite compares to the way I feel about Richard.

  23. Sorry to quibble about semantics Frenz! but I just want to clarify that I wasn’t proposing that fan fervor for RA was driven “mostly” by his portrayal of the character of desire. Perhaps I gave that impression but in my view I’m not sure it’s possible to definitively isolate a singular or small handful of reasons why folks feel drawn to Richard Armitage. I think it’s more like 20 reasons colliding at once! of which the character of desire is one – one of many. It may be high in the order of reasons for some and low in the order for others.

    I do very much agree with you that his abilities are exceptional and that is primarily what draws people in. The character of desire is but one manifestation of those abilities.

    My feeling is that why we feel drawn to some people over others is in some part beyond our rational comprehension. That’s what makes it feel magic :) And if that is so – is it really possible to objectively reject or accept what drives the affection?

  24. “more like 20 reasons colliding at once!” Yes, I think that is apt, Skully. As I said, it is hard to pinpoint exactly what RA has or does or is that draws so many of us to him in such a strong way.

    I have often described it as “magical,” the Armitage Effect. I find myself happy to know he is in the world and appreciative of the fact I did stumble upon this happiness through a Saturday night show on BBCA . . .

  25. Angie, it doesn’t matter if it was John Thornton or not, I enjoy hearing your thoughts. :)


    Oh, I didn’t think you were applying that to everyone or narrowing it to a singular reason. Mainly, I was referring to it as a possible dominate reason for my fervor but have found what keeps me coming back is something more. None of this means I’m not a romantic. I am. Unabashedly so, and it would be a lie to say I didn’t find North and South and some other pieces RA has been in terribly romantic. And perhaps it will just be the magic of romance when I’m done pondering. In the meantime, it’s my nature to examine something until I figure it out or come close. That’s what I love to do.

  26. Yes RAfrenzy,truth is the key word for me too!
    Sadly,I have that horrid days when all my dearest people(Mum included)seems to say the truth by acciden.

  27. Frenz, thanks. :D I can wax rhapsodic till the cows come home about a certain actor and his characters . . . just didn’t mean to get carried away. I was a bit muzzie-headed when I posted, too, which you can see by my numerous typos. *rolls eyes*

  28. Yep, JT was the first one for me too. And I just watched N&S with my sister over the weekend, and last week I read the book, which my sis will give me as a Christmas-present =) I had the urge to read it after seeing a video on YT /
    I already know some of the lines by heart, some of the memorable ones, and I never seem to get tired of watching N&S! Just lovely!

  29. @ angie, you have articulated so beautifully my own feelings about Richard, it’s as if you had read my mind! I too have admired other actors, and had a major crush or two over the years, but not one has come even close to how I feel about him. Nor has a character they have portrayed become as beloved to me as Thornton, Lucas, Porter, Guy and Harry. I couldn’t choose a favourite, I am as besotted with them all as I am with their creator.

  30. Mezz,

    It’s extraordinary the effect this man and his characters have on so many of us.

    My husband says he feels sorry for my former “crushes,” I have abandoned them for Richard. ;)

    His characters are so real to me they come and hang out in my house–I could never envision me writing about another actor’s characters in the way I do in Sloth Fiction or caring about what happens to them (PLEASE quit killing them off, TPTB!)

    Besotted is a good word to describe my feelings about Richard and the ChaRActers.

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