This is a Special Time

A guest post from NZfanofRA:

Frenz has very kindly allowed me to share some thoughts with you. I’ve been thinking about Richard. Nothing unusual about that I hear you say. And you might be correct in your assumption.

But the reason for bursting into print is to invite you, with me, to pause in the giddy anticipation of The Hobbit release, and reflect upon this moment. May I urge you not to simply await the premiere or the screening you plan to attend, but enjoy the cusp of something.

And what might that something be? I’m sure you, like me, expect another wondrous performance from Mr. Armitage in his portrayal of Thorin. We also are certain that the huge audiences for The Hobbit will mean RA will become much, much more well known.

I had expected this sort of recognition would occur after the movie had been released and people had seen the performance. But it seems The Hobbit publicity machine is already promoting RA as a star of the movie in posters and by his inclusion in the team that went to Comic Con in July. This movie isn’t called The Dwarf King, it is The Hobbit, isn’t it?

The Warner Bros. publicity machine however, is not the only sign that people are starting to notice Richard Armitage/Thorin. The Geekest Link sells plush toys of Thorin, Bilbo, Gandalf, the Goblin King and Gollum. But there were reports on Twitter of company representatives noticing Thorin was selling far faster than the others. And now there’s a little pink note on the site suggesting the Thorin plush toy might appeal to Richard Armitage fans – no such mention of the actor playing the other plushy toy characters.

Then there’s the fabulous 3D 5 varieties of cover for Empire magazine’s very special Hobbit edition (highly recommended purchase, by the way). The 5 options are Bilbo, Gandalf, Gollum, Galadriel and Thorin. Guess which one has sold out – take a look.

There’s a groundswell out there, and it’s building. Mainstream media might not have discovered it yet, but I think the signs are there. This marvelous actor has been noticed, is being noticed, and certainly is about to be noticed. Big time.

And here’s a piece of complete speculation on my part. Although I am a Kiwi, I have no insider knowledge of the decisions made about The Hobbit production team, but we know the PJ team keep writing and rewriting as they film. Did the Thorin part become larger once they saw what Richard Armitage was doing with the role? I think so, even if the two films becoming three happened in an organic way, contributed to by the richness of the material and the performances of others in the cast as well.

So to return to my original idea, let’s enjoy what’s happening now, not just await what is coming. As Richard Armitage fans we’re kind of along for the ride. Aren’t we lucky?

Note: My thanks to NZfanofRA for sharing her wonderful encouragement to bask in what is happening and about to happen. She also has an enjoyable guest post about meeting RA which I hope you check out if you haven’t already! Further thoughts from me about the imminent fame are coming in another post.

What a Night!

A report from a local in New Zealand:

I travelled to Wellington to see Ian McKellen’s one man show in support of a theatre in Christchurch which miraculously survived the big quake but the 10,000 after shocks has left the building needing a lot of expensive repair. My sister lives in Wellington so I was staying with her and she was coming to the show with me. There were rumours that the cast of the Hobbit would attend but I tried not to get my hopes up.

We arrived at the theatre and positioned ourselves on the stairs so we could see who was arriving. First we saw Martin Freeman and shortly thereafter Richard Armitage. He had a quiet demeanour and although he greeted some friends was left alone by the people in the lobby. He has a bit more hair on top, dark, and the beard is as we have seen before, perhaps a bit bushier. I think he was wearing the Spooks series 8 jacket – the one with leather trim along the raised collar. He was also wearing a thick black long sleeved Tshirt and black jeans. He took his seat a few rows back from the rest of the cast which seemed to include most of the kiwis, and Aidan Turner, Billy Connolly, James Nesbitt and Luke Evans. I was in the circle and couldn’t actually see him from my seat.

The show started and it was a magical show. It was definitely an audience who knew their Shakespeare and of course NZers are as fond of Sir Ian as he is of NZ. The first half of the show began with a passage from The Hobbit, and then he talked about JRR Tolkein and previous Hobbit productions, and wielded his sword which is very large and very beautiful. He then admitted that there are 2 versions of the sword, an aluminum one for fighting and a heavier one for ceremonial occasions. The audience was then invited to ask him any questions they liked, and it was a very merry story telling session until intermission.

Spotted RA again (it is helpful that he is tall) but he did not stay in the lobby long.There were a lot of people in the lobby, and I was feeling rather shy myself, so didn’t approach him.

The 2nd half of the show was all about Shakespeare with soliloquies from a number of plays. The audience loved it and there were some spellbinding moments.

AND THEN he invited the Hobbit cast on stage. I’m sure you can guess who waited at the back of the queue as they all climbed the stairs to the stage, and there was quite a number. RA was holding a collection bucket, as were other cast members and I started to get a nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach. Members of the audience were then also invited on stage and Ian gave them some instructions we could not hear. What he was telling them to do was to fall down as if dead at a particular point in the next speech, which is what they all did. I took a video with my pretty poor camera which is now on You Tube. The One Ring Site has one with better audio, and the bows at the end, but mine has lightly more RA:

And then the show ended. We headed out to the lobby, and there were members of the cast with buckets collecting but no sign of RA. Luke Evans, James Nesbitt and Aidan Turner I spotted, but where was RA? After a bit of waiting we decided he must still be in the theatre stalls area, and headed in there. There was a large queue waiting to talk to Martin Freeman but only about half a dozen talking to RA. He was chatting to an expat English family while they all took photos with him. And then it was my turn. Summoning my courage I asked him if he would sign my book, a copy of The Hobbit of course. He said “Good book” and I said I had thought I should read it before the film came out. He asked me my name, and then said he would also put his character’s name after his signature in the book (being an unassuming chap he thought I wouldn’t already know-as if!). I asked if he had enjoyed his time in NZ, and he said he loved New Zealand. I said that I really enjoyed his performances and he said “oh bless you”. I then asked how much longer he would be Thorin and he said about a month. At this point (and yes, I did make a donation in the bucket while all this was going on) I was too shy to ask for a photo, but I was so thrilled to have had a short conversation with him that it felt like an imposition to ask him for a photo as well as the autograph. I wished him good luck with the rest of the filming, and moved on.

I think he may be very tired as they near the end of filming as he was very still. There was not an ounce of “movie star” in his manner. I wouldn’t say he was shy, but certainly not someone to push himself forward.


Thank you NZfan!

I feel the urge to start making grand pronouncements about this wonderful fellow we’ve all decided to follow, but I’ll try to refrain for now. Maybe our friend in New Zealand will be so kind as to fill us in on some things if we ask nicely. :D