Flying

As with the other days, please remember this is part of a much larger conversation about Richard Armitage, and you would be pleased by checking out the rest of it here.

My apologies for the delay in posting, and no, today is not about Richard Armitage and Peter Jackson. It was supposed to be today, but I’m a day behind. Sometime I might tell you why.

This piece was originally titled ‘I Think Therefore I Am a Great Actor II,’ but my need for cuteness has waned, and in its place is an overwhelming desire to be understood. The need is so great that it’s also contributed to this post being tardy, and I began drafting it a couple of months ago! Actually, the post has been brewing from the day I started this blog. No, before that.

I knew fairly early on what overwhelmed me about RA’s portrayals, but the language to explain it has eluded me; otherwise, I would have explained already. My stumbling block is not in finding some words so much as it is in wishing to use words that have no inflammatory nature. If my ability to handle words were better, then I could deal with the dangerous ones while curtailing the seemingly endless qualifiers.

In case it wasn’t obvious in the last post, the drug I keep taking is the reality created by Richard Armitage’s characters. I would say truth, but people trip on the word truth. Maybe because it’s often assumed to be the sum of all truth instead of just a truth. That does seem to be the inference from a significant number of people when the word appears. And perhaps it is such an important aspect of our lives, it rightly deserves that reaction. To be clear, I do have a definite view of the source of the truth, but it has such a richness and depth, I could never sum it up. It’s not that simple.

And people aren’t simple. It doesn’t matter who. Everyone has myriad emotions for myriad reasons with myriad manifestations of them. For another person to portray this authentically, and I don’t necessarily mean realistically but rather a portrayal that gets to the heart of a person, certainly can’t be simple. It requires what Stanislavski called “the magic if” which is an actor accessing his imagination to give a character thoughts and feelings, and in turn mannerisms and personal habits in order to convey the inner man. When I first heard Richard Armitage wrote back stories for his characters, I wondered if he was a devotee’ of Stanislavski’s method, but it wasn’t until I read the Vulpes Libris interview in July 2009, that I was sure. Oh, what a wonderful piece. For all of the supposed intellectual resources of the major media outlets, an interview on a fairly unknown blog remains my favorite, because he shared in more detail, before or since, how his mind works with respect to his craft. Thank you again, Lovely Book Foxes! I think many of us would love to read those diaries. Maybe one day.

From that interview, something else began to be clear. This tapping into the imagination and using it to make a real point of connection is Richard Armitage’s obsession, and thankfully for us, his genius. When I was reading Craig, he made an illustration of a young man wanting to become an actor and how it wasn’t really about wanting to be an actor but something else:

Perhaps you quarrelled with your parents when you were eighteen, because you wished to go on the stage, and they would not let you. They perhaps asked why you wanted to go on the stage, and you could give no reasonable answer because you wanted to do that which no reasonable answer could explain; in other words, you wanted to fly. And had you said to your parents, “I want to fly,” I think that you would have probably got further than had you alarmed them with the terrible words, “I want to go on the stage.

Millions of such men have had the same desire, this desire for movement, this desire to fly, this desire to be merged in some other creature’s being, and not knowing that it was the desire to live in the imagination, some have answered their parents, “I want to be an actor; I want to go on the stage. — Edward Gordon Craig, from On the Art of the Theatre

I saw Richard Armitage in that. Oh, not the quarrel although there could have been a quarrel, but in the desire to merge with another creature’s being. And it occurred to me that for all its appearances, this is not flying:

The heart of these characters was never revealed in any way that was terribly meaningful to me. The entire time I was watching I felt like an outsider who didn’t understand the intense relationship between these two people but was aware on some level of the writers whispering into my ear, “This is the scene where you should care.” But oh, what do you think this part would have been in the hands of Richard? And I’ll bet Kate Winslet’s performance would have been world’s better as well. I could get faint if I think about all the possibilities, and especially as I’ve been learning what flying really looks like:

It’s made me want to fly too. It’s made me want to tell stories and express some things I never have or felt I could. A few months before I knew RA existed, I did start a journal, which was something to relieve tension and rant where it could do no harm to anyone — except perhaps me. It was never for me to be a writer. But as I watched his performances, I got so stirred up and eventually knew I wanted to do in written form what he is doing. Mostly, I want to create another world in which to reveal a reality. Isn’t that what Tolkien is all about? More on that later. :D

The next post is about Richard Armitage stretching himself professionally.

21 Comments

  1. Very thought-provoking, Frenz. In TRUTH, no mattter how tough it is to capture the essence of the actor in words, the efforts are worthwhile. The Vulpus Libris interview was a milesonte/lodestone. Before the actor had had to become more wary of his public utterances, and with a team who actually asked intelligent questions, and approached him as a grown-up. (Which he was.) Keep posting…

  2. Thank you for this very thoughtful post. You articulated the elusive quite well. It’s got me thinking again about my own journey.

  3. The Vulpes Libres interview is still my absolute favourite – I wish there were more like it. I really liked the quote from Craig – thanks for posting. As a parent, you want your children to have a “secure” job, and acting is such an insecure one. I dont know how many times recently I’ve had to defend my daughter’s career choice – acting is just not considered as a “career”. I wonder how many times Richard Armitage had to defend his choice in the early days. What people often don’t understand is that it is a passion and “in their blood” (for want of a different expression). I think this is what makes Richard Armitage’s work so special – the man lives and breathes acting.

  4. Richard just does what he must do and he love it.(what a wonderful feeling it must be!) You can see the passion and dedication in his work. I envy him!.

  5. Like others here, the Vulpes Libre interview is my favourite; no production promotion, no inane questions, just Richard.
    Thankyou for another thoughtful, interesting post Frenz.

  6. I agree. Whether you call it sincerity, vulnerability, or truth, through his body and voice, he portrays the complex emotions and thinking of his characters. It is addicting.

  7. The Vulpus Libris interview is also my absolute favourite! I found out about it at a very early stage of my getting to know who RA was, about a year ago, that is. It was that interview that really made me realize how profoundly intelligent and thoughtful RA is. He puts his heart and soul into his acting.

    This is my first time in FanstRAvaganza. I love it!!

  8. […] on “Flying” • phoebe guests at Richard Armitage Fan Blog with advice for dealing with Armitage addiction • […]

  9. In all honesty, I had skipped this interview until today. Initially it sounded quite theoretical. But wow. He really has a great and fascinating grasp of his craft. I now understand a little more of the depth and layering of his characters.But does that mean that he is his characters? With this level of investment and work, I wonder where he stops and where his characters begin. Fascinating stuff. Makes me want more.

  10. This is the first time I have read the Vulpus Libris interview. Richard is a craftsman in the truest sense. Wonderful post Frenz.

  11. The VL interview is the best one ever – done by people that are actually interested in what he had to say and asked good questions. As far as I know he was sent the questions via email and wrote down the answers himself, a very effective way to get meaningful answers and much better than what some journalist do, that try to give the interview a certain slant.

  12. I think the ladies at VL explained it was via email.

    It’s always a good thing when people really want to hear what you have to say and aren’t interviewing to promote something. I hate those pieces. Actually, I don’t hate them; they’re too good to make fun of. Just thought I would throw that in if someone doesn’t get that I’m making fun a good part of the time. I could care less what the guy eats for breakfast or his exercise regimen or whether or not he has a “cleaner.” He does talk about food a lot, but those comments are manna for someone who likes to make jokes (no pun intended), but really, those kinds of pieces are insulting to a person’s intelligence. Let the guy talk about his work! But I’m also realistic and know that doesn’t sell newspapers nor get masses of people to watch shows.

  13. I beg to differ ;-) – that interview you refer to did add to the impression we have of the person and is in line with his approach to acting. I also think a lot of people did relate to what he said (or at least approve of it), which may or may not be a clever marketing trick. :-) What was slightly odd (or frustrating for a curious reader) was that it didn’t mention any people in his life, except the absence of a cleaner.

  14. I’m glad you got something out of and others did as well. Since I don’t have these interviews memorized, I went back to read that one again. I got something out of it too, but I was not really all that interested in his daily routine. If I needed to know he was mortal and dealt with the mundane like the rest of us — home ownership, keeping a yard, housework (or lack thereof), trying to eat healthily, then yes, the article would have been tremendously interesting. But he’s made it plain he’s a regular guy in that sense,and really, that’s never what I’ve been interested in with respect to him. I did find the temper revelation interesting since he’s always maintained he’s basically a puppy dog. The rest could have been written about any number of celebrities.

    As far as being “in line with his approach to acting,” I’m not sure exactly what you mean.

    For those who may not know, this is the article we’re discussing. If it appears too small, click to enlarge.

    And my snarky take on it here.

  15. I opened two tabs on this comment, so I left something out, argh!!

  16. I think that I have read so much on Richard Armitage, that some things are not news to me anymore. This is a hazard to being an intense fan. So when I read that being on stage was like flying, I just nodded my head and went, “yeah.” If this is what you meant, Jane, I agree, but I”m not sure what you meant, so I asked. :)

  17. And I knew I was going to talk about that at some point and didn’t want to get into it in my original piece about this article which was not meant to highlight anything serious. Believe it or not, there are lots of things I haven’t said that I”m going to. But sometimes telling everything you know is boring . I know I get tired of hearing the same things over and over, and really, that is the biggest problem I have with this blog — how many times and ways can I gush over Richard Armitage? I find I have a finite capacity for that.

  18. Maybe I should start a piece on this, but not until after Fanstra. :D

  19. One last thing: I’m trying to get something to work on my next fanstra piece and having a devil of a time. Hopefully it will be up soon! Thanks for your patience.

  20. I suppose what I meant was quite simple – he’s a bookish guy with lots for book shelves and more books on the floor, he spends a lot of his free time reading and preparing for his roles, etc.. With some actors the image of the dedicated and hard working and quite intellectual actor clashes with the picture you can get of them when not working and that is not the case with RA – or if it is, he wisely refrained from describing a day he sleeps till midday and parties till the next morning. Oh, and I do think, that he is a mere mortal, an ordinary guy, someone one can identify with, and not some typical celebrity, is a huge part of his appeal!

  21. […] edit: the thoughts in this post continue here. […]


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