What It is About Nathan Kress

Kress_1100-1024x558As I said in a previous post, I just adored Nathan Kress in the new movie Into the Storm, and I wanted to find out more about him. So I asked Kelly aka @NBNathanKress, “Why Nathan?”

Her reply:

Like the majority of Nathan’s fans, I first became familiar with him thanks to “iCarly.” The show started off as background noise for me, but by the second season, I started to tune in more. I also learned that a lot of people I knew from other fandoms liked this show. While the show could definitely be wacky, the cast had wonderful chemistry and could tackle both comedy and drama. By the third season I believe, Twitter started to kick off and the fans were able to follow the cast and learn a bit more about them.

One thing that really stood out about this cast was that they all seemed to be pretty well grounded. They didn’t appear to be spoiled Hollywood divas. They were just teens who happened to act. That was refreshing.

Nathan_Kress_thumbs_upI’ve also always had a thing for what I call “adorkable” guys – cute guys who don’t take themselves too seriously. One of the jokes in the Nathan Kress fandom is about his inability to dance. There are plenty of videos and gifs to showcase this. Why this appeals to me? I guess I just enjoy a good laugh. It’s just silly fun.

Another reason I’m a fan of his? This is a big one, but I really admire that Nathan is vocal about his faith in Hollywood and tries to be a role model for his fans. I’ve seen too many stars shrug off this idea. There was even a somewhat recent interview with a Christian website where he went into detail about how his faith defines him and how he wants to be seen as the Christian who acts, not the actor who just happens to be a Christian. I think that’s a really brave thing to do in Hollywood. He also takes part in numerous charities and has even gone to New York City to help the Salvation Army with Hurricane Sandy relief efforts.

BuOikn4IMAEXuoQI have also yet to hear of a bad fan encounter. From mall signings to random sightings in LA and NY, fans always talk about how sweet he is and the awesome hugs he gives. I also always get a good laugh any time I read about how good he smells. For those who have gotten to actually visit with him longer, I always hear about how personable he is.

BuOiPvyIgAALt2ROff the top of my head, I can think of three or four fans who have met him on multiple occasions. For one girl, her first fan encounter was at a signing. When she mentioned her Twitter username, his head popped up and he immediately gave her a hug! Some devoted fans have also been able to visit the set whenever they were in California. One fan got to even have breakfast with him and his girlfriend. Each and every one of these fans come back with lots of stories about conversations they’ve had with him. Oh, and more hugs!
I mainly use Twitter and message forums to interact with other fans. We’re not the largest group, but we are very excited to see Nathan spread his wings in acting – especially in dramatic roles. I think I speak for the majority of his fans when I say that I always felt that Nathan’s strongest scenes in “iCarly’ were the serious moments. Also, the fans loved his appearances on both “CSI” and more recently “Major Crimes.” You can only imagine how ecstatic we were when we got confirmation he was going to be in a major motion thriller! We’re all just super excited to see where his career will take him.

So there’s my answer as to why I am a fan of the “adorkable” and talented Nathan Kress.

I love this and especially that he seems to be a person of character. He’s going to weather some storms over that! But that will only make him better and a real light.

Into the Storm was Nathan’s first major motion picture appearance, and I hope to see him again on the big screen very soon.

You can find Nathan on Twitter. Maybe he’ll help our guy get acclimated.

And maybe I should have an ‘adorkable’ tag, but for now, Nathan gets one of my favorite tags — ‘dorktastic.’

Candid shots from Into the Storm premiere in New York courtesy of MarieAstra, who by the way is watching The Crucible as I type this! :D

And Now Meg’s Take on The Crucible

The Old Vic by Meg Siobhan

Guest post by Meg Siobhan:

So, this evening (well, last night as I’m writing this on the last train home, surrounded by many a loud drunk…) I went to see The Crucible, with our favourite tall, dark and handsome chap, Richard Armitage.

This was my first time seeing anything at The Old Vic Theatre, so I was very excited – even more excited to be seeing Richard, in theatre, the evening before my birthday.

So when my dad and I got there, we collected the tickets, made our way to the floor, and the door we needed to go in, in order to be seated.

Supposedly the set design meant that the seats we were originally going to have would have decreased in value and have restricted view. The seats we got in place of these were still great, in the main dress circle. From where we were sat, our original seats didn’t look affected at all, so don’t know what was going on there…

Anyway, on to the play.

Now, I’m a sucker for good lighting, and I felt this show had absolutely beautiful lighting. Its simplicity was what made it so striking.

I won’t divulge major details about the play if you are yet to see it, but if you’ve been on social networks, you will know that Richard is shirtless for part of a scene. Yes, I was swooning.

It was beautifully staged, and the entire cast was fantastic.

There was one moment I loved in the encore when we were all applauding. They came out once, and bowed – vanished and returned, as per any usual encore. But the second time, Richard let everyone else leave the stage, and as they did, he just smiled to the entire audience, taking in the applause.

I think he was happy with how this opening night went, just like many of us who absolutely adored it. It was good to see this side of him!

If I could, I would give them all a big splat on the back for a job well done.

I think, a brilliant return to the theatre for Richard and I would happily watch the play many times.

You can find Meg at Twitter, Instagram and her blog.

Photo Courtesy of Meg Siobhan

[edit: Meg gives a fuller account at her blog]

An Audience with Richard Armitage

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A Guest Post by @peppgrad (aka Lori H)

I have been a “well-wisher” of Richard Armitage since the first season of Robin Hood when my BFF called me and told me to “Watch Robin Hood but forget the Robin Hood guy, check out the actor who’s playing Guy of Gisborne.” Wow. I soon discovered, after watching his prior work, that he was more than just a pretty face. After seeing the work he has accomplished since then, he confirmed in my mind that he is an underrated actor with great range. Let us face it; there are many handsome men in Hollywood who cannot act. Richard is a handsome man who can act!

When I discovered he was going to be at WonderCon on Saturday, April 19, 2014, at the Anaheim Convention Center, I could not believe it. Anaheim, CA, is practically at my back door. I have been to WonderCon there before and been inside the Arena where the Into the Storm (ITS) panel was to be held early on Saturday. He was going to be on my home turf!

Here was another chance to see Richard up close and perhaps even an opportunity for an autograph and picture at a signing. However, in checking the WonderCon schedule and announcements, it became clear the ITS panel would not be doing any signings afterwards. That was disappointing. Three times in the past, I have been within twelve feet of Richard without any opportunity to even say how much I liked his work, much less get a posed picture or an autograph. There was either intense security or just people crowding rudely in between. It was getting pretty frustrating. Especially since all I wanted was even a brief moment to say hello to an actor I admire. He seemed, from all accounts I had read, to be a nice guy.

Anyway, my BFF and I picked up our badges and headed over to the line to get inside the Arena for the panel. Once we were able to get in and be seated, and the panel started, my BFF started taking pictures. I knew at least that I would get copies of the photos she had taken.

As I was sitting there, I decided I was going to go up to the microphone when they opened it for questions (we were seated fairly close to it) and ask Richard a question. At least I would get to speak to him and get an answer! When I saw the first person heading to the mic, I told my friend, “I’m going to the mic to ask Richard a question. I don’t know what I’m going to ask but I’ll think of something intelligent to ask before I get there!”

And there, my friends, was where my adventure REALLY began!

The first three people at the mic all asked questions of Richard. It quickly became clear, and quite humorous, that Richard was going to get the majority of the questions. The fourth person, the one directly in front of me, asked a question she said anyone could answer. When my turn came, I was told I would be the last question.

I had worn my Thorin Oakenshield t-shirt that day. When they put my picture up on the big screen behind the panel, and everyone saw my t-shirt, there was a lot of laughter; Richard obviously was getting the final question, too! I quickly told Steven Quale, the director, thank you for making the movie; I thought it would be really good. Then I said what everybody already knew, “But my question is for Richard.” I asked him if he had written a bio for this character as he had done for his prior characters. I mentioned I had read that he wrote character bios.

As he started to answer, I stepped to the right of the mic about six feet. I was still in the lit area. I suddenly realized he must be able to see me because he quit looking in the direction of the mic and turned his gaze on me where I was now standing! I almost could not focus on what he was saying because I thought, “It is true. He does listen and speaks directly to the person who asks him the question!” It seemed for a second as though no one was in the room but me and him. He answered my question, stating he did indeed create a bio for Gary as his wife had died and left him with two sons so he felt there needed to be more story there. In addition, he mentioned he had met with an American high school teacher to get an understanding of what the job was as well as the Mid-Western culture. In my own mind, it seemed as though he liked the question but that could be just wishful thinking!

As they wrapped up the panel onstage, I had a quick thought. In the past, I had been in the back area of the Convention Center and Arena. I was sure I knew where they would drive out if we could get near there. I told my BFF, “Let’s leave and go outside. I want to go around to the back and see if there is any way to meet Richard.” She was all for it and we quickly left and made our way around to the gate which was wide open. There was a guard there but a couple was walking out in costume, a couple more people were milling around so I said, “Just keep walking in like you know where you’re going.” No one stopped us. I knew it was a long shot to meet Richard but I had to try.

At the first corner, I looked left and there were three black Mercedes down at the end with a couple of men in suits who turned out to be drivers. Some men appeared to be neither security nor drivers and were probably press or industry. We casually began to stroll down that way. We were about a third of the way down when I saw a security guy approaching. I thought “Uh-oh, we’ve been busted.” However, he was incredibly nice. He politely told us to wait where we were and stand to the side; he didn’t want us to get run over. I told him, don’t worry, we don’t want to get run over either! He laughed, said thanks and walked back toward the cars.

We stood there for a few minutes chatting with each other when I looked back at the Mercedes to see Richard standing with his back to us, and I could see the ponytail! In a split second, he turned around and he and a driver got in one of the Mercedes and began heading our way. The windows in the back were so darkly tinted that you could not see in. My BFF said, “Let’s wave just to let him know we’re here to support him.”

As the car came near us, it rolled to a stop. The rear driver’s side window rolled down and there was Richard!

I have no idea whether he recognized me from my asking a question inside the Arena, whether he saw my Thorin Oakenshield t-shirt and my friend’s Hobbit:DoS t-shirt, whether he stopped because we waved or what the reason was that he stopped. I was, as the British say, “Gobsmacked.” I looked around and there was no one else near us. No one else had come to the back. It was just Richard and us (and the driver).

Richard was sitting on the passenger side in the back but quickly scooted over a little, and put his hand out first to shake our hands. We exchanged the “nice to meet yous.” He has, as you know, an amazing voice. He also has a great handshake. Firm, but he was not squeezing too hard. I could not believe I was shaking hands with Richard Armitage! And that he offered to shake hands first! (I had this quick thought at that moment when my hand was in Richard’s that made me laugh quite hard later on. It was a line from “The Big Bang Theory” when Penny gives Sheldon a napkin from the Cheesecake Factory that Leonard Nimoy has wiped his mouth on. Sheldon cries out, “I have a napkin with Leonard Nimoy’s DNA on it. Do you know what this means? I can clone him!”).

My friend told Richard we were big fans of his and he thanked us. I quickly took the opportunity to ask if he would sign a couple of autographs for us. He smiled and said in that smooth voice, “Of course.” Through all of this, I was trying to be as calm and polite as possible. So was my BFF, I could tell. He signed the WonderCon programs for us: Lori, love, Richard Armitage. He signed the same (except for the name of course) for my BFF.

I asked him, as he handed her program back to her, how much longer did he have on the shoot for Urban and the Shed Crew. He told me he had two weeks left. He mentioned he was headed straight to the airport to catch a plane back. I also briefly made some mention about The Crucible (sorry, can’t remember what it was) and he answered back. I noticed during this conversation, he had removed the tie he was wearing earlier and opened his shirt collar but still had on his black leather Diesel jacket.

Realizing we had already had several minutes of his time without ANY interruption, I quickly asked him if he would be kind enough to pose for a picture for us before he had to leave. He said he would be happy to and leaned forward so he was leaning on the edge of the door. (We did not want to be demanding and ask him to get out of the car and pose with each of us since we knew now he had to catch a flight. I thought that would be rather rude and inconsiderate of his time).

However, my BFF had not changed the focus on her camera since she pulled it out earlier when he was down at the end with the Mercedes and looked through it to see down there. Therefore, being a little nervous when she took the picture, it was not in focus. When she checked it, she exclaimed “Oh no, I didn’t change the focus from earlier. All I got was your nose.” He started laughing and told her she could take another picture. This time she got a good picture! At some point, we may share this picture. For the moment though, only we have this private picture of our almost private time with Richard. (Darn driver, LOL!).

We thanked him again for stopping, that it was very nice of him to do that. He looked happy. We wished him a good flight home as he moved back over to the passenger side seat in the back. Then the handsome prince’s driver took him away in his horseless carriage.

As soon as his car turned the corner, my BFF and I high-fived each other! We could contain it no longer! We could not believe we had just had an “audience” with Richard Armitage, uninterrupted, for almost five minutes. Finally, after being so close so many times without meeting him, I met him!

I have to make a comment here about “celebrities.” I have lived all of my life in Southern California within about 25 miles of Los Angeles. I have encountered numerous rock stars, singers, actors, politicians, etc. over the years. Some I wanted to see and some I just encountered some place. Sometimes I just told them I liked their work, sometimes I just ignored them, some I asked to take pictures of, and some I asked for autographs. I have always been polite. I can say some of them were nice, some were jerks and one had a publicist (!) who haughtily told me when I asked her if I could get an autograph from her singer/actor client that “Mr. So-and-So doesn’t do autographs.”

However, Richard Armitage is possibly the nicest public personality I have ever met! How many actors will stop their car to speak several minutes with just two “well-wishers?” He could easily have driven past us with the windows rolled up. Alternatively, he could have just rolled down his window and waved, shouting out the “Sorry, have to go catch a plane” excuse. Instead, he stopped, shook hands, answered questions, signed autographs, posed for a couple of pictures and thanked us for being his fans!

Richard Armitage is as nice and polite as people who have met him say he is. (His mum should be proud.) By the way, he is also criminally handsome in person. If you are fans of his stubble, he was definitely sporting it that morning.

From the start of the ITS panel to the ending outside with Richard being driven away in a black Mercedes, it was an amazing time. I think every year on April 19 my friend and I are going to watch The Hobbit trilogy to remind ourselves of OUR adventure.

RAWonderConbyChristyMcAffee

Note from Frenz: they relented about the picture :D Also, for those who have never been to a fan driven Con, it is entirely the norm for fans to be all over the place including where the stars of the event come and go. The famous who attend know this, and for the most part are gracious. RA especially so in my experience.

Another Reaction to the Hobbit Fan Event

I’m enjoying these fan reactions. Whether they paint a complete picture of Richard Armitage or not, they’re still interesting, and in the interest of a little diversity (especially in light of the recent Esquire Magazine release), below is Armitagebesotted’s unabashed reaction to seeing internet crush Richard Armitage for the first time live (at the Hobbit fan event in New York). If you’re prone to Armitage Protection Mode, you may want to think twice about reading this. Why? Because you need to read the whole thing and not trip and then quit reading after the opening paragraph.

He’s just a guy — who looked anxious, and uncomfortable, and squirmed like a bug being examined under glass. He’s clearly an introvert (not shy, Google the difference) who hates these things. He picked at his cuticles,wriggled in his seat and ducked his head self-consciously to the point that I actually felt guilty for participating in making him miserable by being an audience member.

But that didn’t stop me from staring. Steadily. For 45 minutes. (I missed a lot of the movie stuff and totally tuned out Anderson Cooper.)

I’m sorry, Richard. Please forgive me my obsession. I’m besotted, and I can’t help myself.

Others have written good descriptions of the lines, security, etc., so I’ll skip that. These are my further impressions:

Meeting fellow fangirls was the best, but I found the fan event presentation itself a little…underwhelming. It was disorganized and unrehearsed, and that was painfully obvious. All three “talents” (Bloom, Armitage and Cooper) looked like they desperately would have liked some direction, but they made the best of it.

RA’s introduction was buried in clapping for Bloom (RA deserved a solo entrance!), and there was no “ending.” Bloom, Armitage and Cooper just popped off their chairs as the sneak peeks started and slunk out of the theater in the dark — all three of them. We didn’t get to clap goodbye.

But we clapped, hooted and hollered the whole time they were on stage, so really, what did they miss?

There was a substantial amount of dead air. Several times, while waiting for the images from the other cities to appear on screen and to sync up, we in the audience were entertained by the crawl of Twitter messages at the bottom of the screen, including our own. I prodded my seat mates to put something out so we would see how long they took to appear (only a few minutes.)

My favorite was: “LOOK my tweet is on the big screen!!!” Janine Pineo’s tweet got a major rush of recognition, causing the three on stage to look up like, “Huh? What are they clapping for?”

There’s a story in there about the existentialism of supplementing the actual “event” (live people on stage in front of you) with your own stage-ignoring activity (fumbling with a gadget) in order to “participate” in the event. Or does that mean WE were the event? I will leave that to others to analyze.

Often, the theater was kind of quiet while Cooper listened to whatever was coming through his earphone and Bloom and Armitage squirmed. I was thinking it would be entertaining to give Armitage a phone book and ask him to read out loud to us. Or a Chinese restaurant menu. Too bad I didn’t have the guts to yell that out. Instead, I’m lamely putting it out now, as if I actually pulled off a good joke.

Speaking of yelling, people were heckling Anderson Cooper — Anderson Cooper, I tell you! Out of over-excitement, boredom or antsy-ness, I’m not sure which.

Bloom and Armitage spent most of their time looking down at their monitor, which was below the stage, in front of us, so that provided another weird disconnect. We’re right in front of them, and they weren’t looking at us.

We were looking at them, though. Non-stop. With comments. Bloom loved it. Armitage hated it.

Richard only got to speak once, but, of course, he made the most of it and was wonderful.

He’s very thin again. Thinner than last month in LA. Lucas North thin. His jeans were loose. I thought he looked tired and, dare I say it, frail.

The images of Richard on screen, on the other hand, were fabulous — and drew cheers from our crowd repeatedly. He and Orlando stood in the back during the trailer that opened the show and today I read that they watched the scenes from the movie which closed the show from the back, also. RA had to be gratified to hear us scream wildly every time he appeared. Bloom got his clapping, too, but there was no mistaking that this was a Richard Armitage audience. The roar each time Thorin appeared was LOUD.

Gripe, gripe, gripe. Having unloaded all my complaints, I will also throw in a few compliments. I can’t imagine, but do appreciate, the technology and technical support behind pulling off this event. Actually, we got one clue; there were four semis with satellite dishes on their roofs outside our theater in New York.

The 20 minutes of footage from the not-yet-released film which Peter Jackson wrangled out of Warner Brothers was a true gift to the fans. I do like to see anyone best entertainment conglomerates, so “Go, Peter!” Please continue to prove that the “creatives” who invent the “content” are in charge, not the financiers and the promoters.

Ooops, is my snarky, skeptical side showing? The marketing element of this “event” was inescapable. We all signed waivers….

The best part of the experience was meeting other fans and connecting on-screen fake names with real people and real names (which will not be revealed here.) This fandom’s dedication is mighty impressive. When I found myself between a woman who had driven overnight from Michigan and two who had flown from Chicago and Idaho, respectively, I decided to keep to myself how disgruntled I was when my train ran slowly from Times Square to 68th Street, making my trip from Brooklyn take a whole hour.

Frenz’s reaction: Maybe a little APM kicked in on me. LOL!

Dear Rich,

What a pain in the ass to be present at an event that is not well planned and have a bunch of people watching me like a hawk. I probably would have picked my cuticles too and squirmed and just generally wondered when can I get out of here!

But no worries that we don’t love you as you can see how we completely take the organizers to task and never you. :D

The particulars of the event aside, it should be obvious that we all just like to see you in person. Mostly I think because some of us have a hard time believing you’re real and must see for ourselves that you are. You’re like a dream, Man. And if I stop long enough to really think about that, it makes me feel bad for you. That’s a helluva persona to carry around. Who could do that non-stop? Even your toilet joke doesn’t seem to detract from it.

I’ve said enough. Just know I still love you even if you do pick your cuticles.

Signed,
A crazy fan — of yours. A crazy fan of yours.

P.S. You do have some really wonderful fans. I thank you personally for that! I just hate I didn’t get to see any of them this time around.

Like Armitagebesotted, I appreciate the technology of the event and also the dynamics “the powers that be” were trying to accomplish. Maybe it was just too ambitious with not enough time to pull it off. If this is done again, I would bet it will be much better organized. Looking forward to that.

I feel a letter to Sir Peter coming on, so I’ll stop with that line of thinking, or this post will take forever to load!

Before I go, Armitagebesotted and I want to once again thank Library Girl for her graciousness and let her know we both feel ANYTIME we get a chance to see Richard Armitage in the flesh, is a good time!

I understand RA Central has more media and lots of it!

And I’m looking forward to TheQueen’s take on things. No pressure though, Queen, no pressure. :D

Now I’m really done.

And Then It Continued

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First part of the story here.

Today is the anniversary of Janine‘s initial encounter with John Thornton, and now the rest of her story:


Days passed. The letter became a being, existing with an accusatory bent. I was determined not to mail it.

My birthday arrived. I took the day off from work, and as I wandered about my favorite coastal town in the peace of being alone with the sea and sun, I was able to breathe. At dinner, I sat on the wharf with a copy of ‘North and South’ in my hands and read the first chapters of the story that had somehow brought such change into my life.

That night I copied the letter onto some stationery and found an address for Richard. It felt right. So what if I was a blathering idiot in my prose to him? I had written what I felt. I mailed it.

Nope. It didn’t help.

My family went away for a few days. I stayed home with the pets and the vegetable garden. And the entire DVD set of Robin Hood. I watched the first two series over again.

Work and the family returned. I kept hurtling toward something. It felt like that.

And one day my access to one of the unofficial RA sites went AWOL. I couldn’t figure it out and being denied access for some random reason was a most cruel joke.

I contacted the owner. It was my first contact with someone over Richard. I felt odd. Who did this? Not me. Not ever. Not practical, no-nonsense me.

We never did figure out why I couldn’t connect. But I had made a personal connection with someone who was kind, smart and didn’t treat me like I was a nutjob because I was reading interviews and looking up information about an actor.

That exchange launched me into the land of Twitter and contact of an instanteous nature with other admirers of Richard Armitage. One by one I found or was found. And I started twittering away, finding myself swept up into another crazed frenzy.

There were moments I actually felt giddy.

And it was there that I had my first exhilirating exchange with the writer of this blog, Frenz. I’d read a lot of her posts over the months since discovering Richard. I liked her voice as a writer. I appreciated her self-deprecation. And suddenly here we were in some sort of DM Twitterfest that lasted more than two hours.

She was relentless in her questions to me but also in revealing pieces of herself. It was a unique exchange that did many things that night. But the important one is that it forced me to yet another level of awareness about myself.

Three months and two days after writing that letter to Richard, I was writing a letter to me.

The next day, it took about nine hours with a few breaks, for the first time in my life, I sat there and let my heart — my battered, suppressed heart — rage.

Because once upon a time, I had imagination. I had that joy in creating. I had that feeling anything was possible.

What happened?

What happened.

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I held nothing back. I was brutally honest as I typed, admitting my failures. Admitting other people’s failures to me. From childhood to adulthood I roamed.

I didn’t edit. I just typed. I cried. There were moments I thought I might break.

So I cried some more.

I could feel myself emerge as I neared the end. And as I typed the final few sentences, I was sobbing. I thought I could paraphrase what I was writing to Frenz but I cannot, so here it is, raw and unedited.

——
As I have been writing this for about 8 hours, I have been hurtling toward the end not knowing what to say. But it hit me a little while back.
I think you asked why Richard – was it just last night?
I didn’t think I had an answer. I find I do. At this moment in time, after just giving you the abbreviated version of my life, I do have an answer that makes sense.
He dares.
But me, surrounded by all that you have just read, I do not. Not really. And I want to. I want to break free and dare. Truly dare.
I need to. I need to believe I could play Thorin, that I am finally good enough. I need to have those doubts and slay them.
In my case, I need to believe I can build my own business and be a success. That I have learned in 25 years of working and 45 years of living that I am good enough to have something of my own. That I can have a dream I can fulfill. I know I have the skills. Because in this very moment I have realized that I have always put my dreams aside. Always. Always. I admit it. Finally.
And I am crying so hard I can barely see.
I need a champion. That would be Richard. The man who dared. Who is inspiring me to dare. Who gives me hope that nice people do achieve great things through hard work and because they dare.
For a while now, I have been thinking this: Richard makes me want things I can never have.
So negative. But how could I not be because he does make me yearn for so much more than what I have in my existence. I couldn’t see past the negative because it was so massive.
And now, because I have said this I need to think differently.
Richard makes me want things I will dare to have.
——

I can safely admit that since I had that moment at the end of last October, everything has changed.

I now have a world full of people who share at least one commonality: an admiration for Richard Armitage. And it turns out we share so much more. Of course we do. I have slowly gotten to know person after person, and I am in a world so rich with possibility because of them that my heart nearly bursts some days from the sheer joy in being alive.

I have done silly things. I have done fun things. I have done serious things. I expect to keep repeating this pattern for some time.

In return I have been given the gift of friendship. When I am troubled – again, life doesn’t happen in a vacuum – a tidal wave of support flows over then buoys me so I won’t flounder. Well, at least not for long.

Frenz asked, quite some time ago, if I would write about inspiration and Richard.

In the end, it was never about Richard Armitage. Not at all.

He is the catalyst.

I am my inspiration.

Because I dare.

Yes, you, do, Janine, and we all love it.

And me, relentless? I’m a pussycat. :D

Screencap courtesy of Gallicka.com

What Just Happened?

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Janine‘s account of Richard Armitage hitting her world:

Sometimes life hands you something you didn’t know you needed.

Or even were looking for.

Richard Armitage. It is a name that a year ago I would have said, “Who, the politician guy?” and Googled him to check. The actor’s name would have meant nothing. Now? I do not know enough words to express all that I feel for the actor guy. I still would need to Google the politician.

What I have been pondering and mulling this past year is simple — and complicated. Why Richard? Why me? What just happened?

Mid-March of 2012 found me with the Netflix DVD of ‘North and South.’ It had been in my queue for probably two years, but I never made a move to watch it. While the story sounded slightly depressing, it was there because it was Elizabeth Gaskell. A drought in British period dramas brought it to my house. I hate to say that my viewing of this was with “the family.” That is never a good idea with period pieces, which do not hold the attention of a large portion of the inmates.

But I remember the first moment I saw Richard on screen. And while I know this is not true, there was complete silence, at least in my head.

I don’t remember coherent thoughts. It was more a wordless recognition. Just … there.

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The voice hit me next. It was so much to process that it was only later when my head said, “Chocolate.” And for me, it wasn’t just any kind, but this particular mocha buttercream I make for the yule log each year: rich, a little sweet, smooth as silk.

Since the show was divided over two discs, I had to wait an entire week to get the second half.

I know.

By the time I got to the kiss to end all kisses in the history of romance, not to mention the future into all of eternity or any parallel universe, I was attempting to remain sensible. This was assisted by the presence of “the family.” After they toddled off to bed, I replayed that scene a shocking number of times.

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Somehow I was able to stop myself, only to go to the DVD extras to watch the man who played John Thornton masterfully and with such nuance.

Awkward. Uncomfortable. Stumbling over his words a bit. This was the man who just made John Thornton tear a hole in the space-time continuum?

I found him endearing. Sincere. Real. And when he started to discuss the responsibility of playing his character, he said a few fateful words that stopped me short. He talked about his character living for 150 years on the page.

Ah. Imagination. Richard Armitage had imagination.

I am not sure how the craziness played out over the next few weeks. It is a bit of a blur. I decided to watch his work chronologically if I could find it. That meant “Robin Hood” was up next (what? a bad boy? conflicted? smirking?). I found myself overwhelmed by the sheer volume of content on the Internet: fan sites, blogs and everything in between. I darted about when I had time, hearing echoes of my own reactions wherever I went.

Did I say echoes? I meant the keening cry of a siren’s call. I was Odysseus floating on a sea called denial.

Around June I was starting to question my sanity. What was I doing? I felt an incredible need to watch this man work, crafting characters where Richard disappeared. He was a chameleon, shifting in and out of roles where he looked remarkably different from himself, and it wasn’t due to makeup or prosthetics.

Eclipsing that need, however, was a desire to understand his motivation. Almost daily I was looking up interviews, scattered at first, but then starting with the earliest and moving ahead, wanting to see how he grew and changed in those years between ‘North and South’ and now.

It was those interviews and commentaries — along with the letters to his fans — that brought me to the conclusion that this was a decent guy with a wicked sense of humor, a man who embodied a lot of my ideals. Much of the time, I felt as if he reflected me: staying in the background, giving praise but not comfortable getting it, working hard to do the job not just well but excellently, living honorably. The list only grew.

It all made me admire him more.

None of this happened in a vacuum. Life was swirling madly about just like always. Family was crazy, work actually went to an even crazier place in May, June and July, and I was working on my own web-based garden site that I launched in December 2011. There was a dog to keep entertained, a vegetable garden to tend, summer projects to start, friends to visit …. The list was always endless. The majority of my entertainment was watching shows with Richard in them.

In July I started to examine what I was doing. Why? That is forever the question I ask. Who, what, where, when and even the how are just facts. It’s the why that tells the story. Why Richard? Why me? Why all of this here and now and in such an intensity that, I now admit, frightened me?

I needed to write something. Anything. It took a form of a letter to Richard in my head. It morphed and changed. Edited, rewritten and edited again. Then Comic-Con happened. In nearly real time, I saw Richard giving interviews and being wholly charming. There was a twinkle in his eyes that his beard only emphasized. He was articulate and again earnest in his unmistakable love for what he was doing.

Warner Bros. Pictures And Legendary Pictures Preview - "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"  - Comic-Con International 2012

At that point, the urge to write was overwhelming. I write. It’s what I do. It’s the place where I can be honest to myself about everything. And why I was denying myself that was because it was important. I knew in my soul it was important. Either I couldn’t admit to the why or I didn’t know the answer myself yet.

Eleven days later, after a long day taking care of my grandmother who had cataract surgery early that morning, I wrote. Longhand. And wrote and wrote. Several hours later I had a letter to Richard. I tucked it away and actually believed that had done it, that I would wake up the next morning and be able to let this go.

No.

It only intensified.

More tomorrow.

Screencaps courtesy of RichardArmitageNet

What a Way To Go!

I told you I was not out of The Hobbit mode, and I’m not. But I’m almost always in Richard Armitage mode, and this account by @kellyduck has thrown me into full throttle:

This post is long overdue, as it’s been nearly 2 months since my trip to beautiful New Zealand for the premiere of The Hobbit. Writing about my Richard Armitage encounter was a lot harder than I ever thought it would be, and I’ve gained a new appreciation for you bloggers that manage to do this on a regular basis. I don’t consider myself a great writer and can tend to be a bit wordy, but I hope you’ll find these ramblings a little entertaining anyway.

As I headed to New Zealand for The Hobbit Premiere festivities, I never truly expected I would actually meet the man himself. Wellington was bound to be packed with visitors and the chances of running into him anywhere seemed pretty impossible. I’d only seen Red Carpet events in pictures or videos, but most seem to be more about the press than the fans, so I wasn’t sure how close we would be able to get to Richard Armitage. I had high hopes of seeing him on the Red Carpet and taking a few quick snaps as he walked by. I even thought maybe, if we were really, really lucky we might even get a quick hello with an autograph, but I tried hard not to set my hopes too high.

So there I was, on a packed Air New Zealand flight about to be bound for Middle-earth itself. Although I was excited, I’d been traveling for much of the day, and by the time I’d reached LAX, I was beginning to feel the weariness that airport travel brings. I wanted to be ready to hit the ground running once I reached New Zealand, and I hoped to get some rest on my flight to Auckland. As I settled into my seat, I could hear the flight crew making some announcements. Over the PA, a flight attendant said something about duty-free merchandise still needing picked up and began going through a list of names…….

“Random person….random person….Richard Armitage…random person….”

Wait…WHAT!? Did she just say what I think she said? No way! Not possible, I told myself. I figured maybe someone was having a laugh, maybe another RA fan on the way to New Zealand even. After all, why would Richard Armitage be on a flight from LA? He’d be coming from London, wouldn’t he?

I managed to mostly brush it off, and settled in for my 11 hour flight to Auckland. There was plenty of Middle-earth entertainment to keep me occupied and our lovely AirNZ Concierge gal even had a Hobbit trivia contest. A few hours into the flight, as dinner service was beginning, I overheard something that nearly stopped my heart. The flight crew were serving meals to the people in the row in front of me, and the flight attendant asked if they’d started their journey on the London leg of the flight.

Wait….WHAT!? The flight I was on had originated in LONDON!? Woah! This possibility had not even crossed my mind. Holy moly! Richard Armitage actually COULD be on my flight! *Begin hyperventilation

Thankfully Air New Zealand serves complimentary wine with dinner because, at that point, I needed something to calm my poor nerves. I tried to brush it off again as best I could. After dinner, Concierge gal announced that if anyone was interested in The Hobbit to contact her (via this really awesome instant message type system, so cool!) and she might stop by their seat with some goodies. Hobbity goodies!? Yes please! :) So I typed a cheeky message about how she should come see me because I was headed all the way to Wellington for the premiere “…and to meet Richard Armitage,” I added. The curiosity was killing me, and I figured this might be my only hope of finding anything out.

About half an hour later Concierge gal did stop by my seat. She brought me some lovely goodies, and an astonishing revelation…..

“I hate to tell you this” she said, “but, that guy you wanted to meet, Richard….what was his name…”

“He’s up there isn’t he?!” I nearly squealed, pointing toward the front of the plane.

“There are several [Hobbit cast members] on the flight actually,” she said grinning. (WHAAAAAT?!!)

Maintaining my composure as best I could, I assured her I had no intention of bothering anyone during the flight, but if she happened to talk to Richard, she could maybe let him know where my seat was ;) (wink, wink)

“Well, you never know, you may run into them in the airport or something,”

Oh crapola! It suddenly occurred to me, I just might!

Well you can imagine how the rest of the flight was for me. Trapped on an airplane knowing that Richard Armitage was merely a few meters/yards away, breathing the same recycled airplane air, it was almost too much. My mind was running wild, but I also knew that being at the far back of the plane (row 58, middle seat) there was very little I could do to investigate without potentially reenacting the scene from Bridesmaids in the First Class Cabin, and probably getting myself detained & deported from New Zealand upon arrival. I wasn’t ready to jeopardize my entire trip just yet.

The hours passed VERY slowly……

Finally, we landed and are getting ready to deplane. I resisted the urge to shove my way through scores of lovely people in order to get off. As I said before, I’m at the very back of the plane, and it starts to sink in that my chances of seeing our man are getting smaller by the minute. Still, as I finally hit the terminal and head towards passport control, my eyes are peeled for any sign of the lovely Mr. Armitage. The passport area at Auckland is much like any other except that, to me it seemed rather dark, as if only half of the lights were on. I was trying desperately to get my paperwork in order while still scanning the room for a glimpse of RA. Where on earth could he be? Everyone goes through passport control, even TDH Brits. Could he have gotten through that quickly? Oh no! This can’t happen! I can’t get this close and then not even see him! I was so shell-shocked and sleep deprived, I thought I just might cry….

but then….

Wait….THERE!! It’s him! Holy moly! It’s dark and he’s on the complete opposite side of the room (VIP lane of course), but that profile is unmistakable. Oh yeah, it’s Richard Armitage.

At this point it was nearly impossible to breathe or maintain any focus on what I was doing. I still had to make it through the passport check, and I was trying to watch my line, but mostly just gawking at Richard and trying desperately to remain in a vertical position. He was wearing boots, a dark jacket, and carrying a backpack. I noticed there was most definitely something stubbly on his chin (squeeeee!) and that he was chatting away with an adorable little blonde (who we later discovered was most likely his lovely publicist, Ruth Bernstein). I took my eyes off of him for a split second and discovered it was my turn at the window. Handing the lady my passport, I make my best attempt to appear calm and rational. This attempt was smashed to bits as I see Richard walk past, directly behind the passport control booth that I was standing in front of. I’m not sure I can describe the myriad of emotions that hit me at that moment, but judging by the look the immigration lady gave me as she handed back my passport, they were written all over my face.

Passport in hand, I bolted forward into the walkway and spotted Richard a few meters ahead of me. It took a lot of willpower and restraint not to burst into a full run down the corridor, but I did however break into a bit of a speed walk/jog. It didn’t seem too out-of-place to be in a hurry in an airport, and I wanted to bridge as much distance as I could before we reached the escalator that was just ahead.

One of the things that I remember distinctly about that day was watching him walking ahead of me for those few moments. I remember the way the tops of his untied boots “flopped” as he walked. I remember there being something different, almost heavy footed, in the way he walked (maybe a remnant of Thorin in his step?) And I remember those jeans… Yeah, they looked pretty great from the front, but from the back…. Well, even his spectacular derriere could not make those jeans (and their giant orange stitched pockets) look good. Oh well, I’m guessing they were comfortable, which is how most people dress for a 24 hour flight. (We won’t even mention how I must have looked.)

My quick stepping landed me only 5 or 6 steps above RA on the escalator, giving me a perfect view of his lovely head. I stared intently as he continued chatting away with the cute blonde. They reached the bottom of the escalator and disappear to the left, into the baggage claim area. I followed close behind, trying not to lose sight of the man for too long. I stopped quickly, as I discovered he has stopped just a few feet ahead of me. His back was to me, and I realized he had just stopped in front of the rest of his traveling group. I stood there wide-eyed and mouth gaping, as I spot Martin Freeman…then Andy Serkis….Elijah Wood….and even little Kiran Shah all standing with Richard Armitage, less than 10 feet in front of me. WHAAAAA!! Holy Moly!

I stood there dumbstruck, for what seemed like days. I was completely frozen in my spot. Martin, who was facing me, was wearing sunglasses and chatting with Kiran, while Elijah and Andy seemed to be politely conversing with a couple of fans. I noticed Richard and the cute blonde began walking over to the other side of the bag carousel, presumably to be in a better position to grab their bags. There was a group of women standing off to the side of where MF, AS, and EW were standing (more publicists) that appeared to be traveling with them. After a few moments, cute blond walked over to chat with these ladies leaving RA standing on his own…..

I realized I’ve been handed a once in a lifetime opportunity! He’s by himself, so if I’m going to talk to him this was the time to do it. Oh my gosh! This was it! It was now or never! I went to New Zealand in the hopes of meeting Richard…and there he was! I knew it would likely be awkward and uncomfortable, but I owed it to myself and every RA admirer I know, not to let this chance pass. I desperately mustered every bit of courage I had, took a deep breath, and walked as calmly as I could toward where he was standing. He was standing right next to a pillar, so I had to walk around behind him to get to where he was. I didn’t know how else to get his attention so I reached up and placed my hand on his left shoulder-blade and said his name. (so bold, I know but, yes friends, I touched the leather!!) As he turned to look at me, I nearly lost the power of speech, and I could feel my body shaking. I apologized for bothering him and said that I was a “fan” of his work and he thanked me, genuinely, and gave me such a sweet smile. It was during his thank you that I remember us making eye contact and, let me tell you this, no photo can capture what it was like to look into those eyes. I don’t remember exactly what was said after that because, well, I was horribly nervous and in a sleep deprived, over caffeinated delirium. I mentioned that I was meeting up with some other fans for the premiere, and he chuckled and said it was going to be an amazing week. He asked how my flight was (sweet man), and I jabbered about the turbulence that made it hard to sleep, and he chuckled about being so sound asleep that he didn’t notice anything.

At this point he turned toward the luggage cart in front of him and (here’s where it got REALLY awkward) started fidgeting with a shopping bag (that mystery Duty Free purchase?) and said something about having trouble with his bag [getting it to stay in the cart?]. It was a strange transition, and I decided to take that as my cue to go before I made a nuisance of myself. I said I didn’t want to keep him any longer and just wanted to say hello. He didn’t look at me or say anything but just kept fidgeting with the shopping bag. It was odd, but it didn’t feel rude or anything. I got the sense that maybe he was a bit nervous too (he kept chuckling and saying “yeah”), as well as being groggy from such a long day of travel. I backed a few feet away from him, and there we stood, waiting for our luggage. His bags (2 large suitcases) came round well before mine, and I watched as he and the others pushed their carts into the next checkpoint area and disappeared.

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There was no sign of them by the time I got my bags, and I presumed, at this point, that they were all long gone. As it turns out, I would see them all again, and again, and again. (My poor nerves!) After a coffee and chat with the lovely Anna, who met me at the airport (and a bit of fanning ourselves as well), I boarded a flight to Wellington only to watch RA and the rest of the group board the same plane too. Trapped on an airplane once again. At least this time I could see the back of the man’s head. As I looked toward the front of the plane, I could see dozens of Bilbos staring back at me from the cover of the AirNZ magazine. I wondered what it must be like for Martin to be sitting a few rows ahead and seeing the same thing. I wondered if he and RA had begun to realize the craziness that awaited them over the next weeks to come.

They were just leaving the baggage claim in Wellington by the time I reached the terminal, so I only saw RA walking away. I gathered my bags and headed off to find my shuttle. There was a bit of walkway between the exit and the baggage area and I came upon the group again as I looked for the exit. As I passed the group, I could see in my peripheral vision that Elijah Wood started walking just behind me. I was trying to muster the courage to say hello when he came across someone he knew and stopped to chat.
(*I did get to say Hi to Elijah as he was leaving the Weta Cave the next day but didn’t try to chat; it was obvious he was in a hurry)

And that was how my amazing Hobbity adventure began. The whole New Zealand trip was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. There are so many more stories to tell, but we’ll save those adventures for another day. xx

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Read Anna’s account of the Red Carpet here

Love it, Kelly! But I don’t think you’re getting off the hook so easily in not sharing some more stories. :D

Candid photo of Richard snaffled from @MorrighansMuse