28/01/2011

RA-NDOM THOUGHTS : BLAMING & PRAISING MR LOVELINESS


Few days ago I was reading this article following  one Ali's (www.richardarmitagenet.com) updates :  "Casting The Hobbit" on www.TheNational.ae. Well, I got furious, I couldn't stand reading the following claims from a senior staff member  of The Tolkien fansite:
"So far, the biggest controversy among fans with the casting of The Hobbit has to be the casting of Richard Armitage as Thorin," says Pat Dawson, a senior staff member of the Tolkien fansite TheOneRing.net. Armitage, best known for a major role in the BBC spy drama Spooks, is considered by many to be a somewhat handsome gentleman, and certainly not "grim-faced" as Tolkien described his dwarfs. And it's this that is causing the upset.
"It would, quite frankly, ruin the movie if the dwarfs are portrayed as anything more or less than what they are: short, strong, muscular, slightly over-weight, bearded and 'grim-faced'," one commenter on the site exclaimed. "Authenticity is very important."

Do they think Peter Jackson is so lacking in experience not to recognize what is good and what is not for his next movie? Haven't they all admired his choices so  far in his hugely successful The Lord of the  Rings Trilogy? What I can't bear is their speaking without knowing. Have they ever seen Richard Armitage as Guy of Gisborne? Have they ever seen him acting? Look at how the "somewhat handsome ( somewhat???) gentleman" can transform himself into a grim-faced dangerous evil guy:

Is this grim enough?
And what about this one?
I can agree with them when it comes to his being a gorgeous giant, I too find it difficult to imagine him as an old dwarf,  but I bet his talent and CGI will do miracles! Just wait, dear Tolkien fans and, meanwhile, get some DVDs and try to see with your own eyes the above mentioned gentleman in action. We all, fans or not, of your favourite writer are reading or going to read THE HOBBIT, for instance,  to be well prepared to enjoy and appreciate Peter Jackson's new film and, especially,  his Thorin Oakenshield.
Something similar happened when Spooks 9 was on and Gareth MacLean wrote on RadioTimes.com his blunt opinion on Why Richard Armitage is no leading man . He blamed Richard for the unconvincing twist his character, Lucas North, had undertaken in the series. What could Richard do against a  bunch of murderous screenplayers? They killed his  dashing, brooding hero. They betrayed him. Still he tried to do his best.  Don't you agree with me? At least, fortunately,  Mr Mac Lean got so many disagreeing comments to his article! 
To compensate this lack of trust in our talented Brit, I've quickly searched the Net for  praising statements coming from colleagues  or directors, showbusiness insiders.  Not from fans, I'm afraid, though there are plenty of them online because, maybe, they might be interpreted as a little biased. These are the first I've found.

Peter Jackson reveals that Oakenshield is being eyed as the Legolas or Aragon of the upcoming films saying, “Thorin Oakenshield is a tough, heroic character, and he certainly should give Leggie and Aragorn a run for their money in the heartthrob stakes — despite being four feet tall.” So ladies get ready, because you’re going to have a new piece of eye candy to ogle in Middle Earth.
Jackson goes on to add that he’s thrilled to have more focus on the dwarves in the upcoming films and is looking to Armitage to bring all his talents to the fore to make the character real. “In Middle-earth, dwarves are a noble race and have a culture and physical appearance which sets them apart from humans. It’s fun to develop these different cultures for the movie, and we are doing much more with dwarves this time around than we did with Gimli in Lord of the Rings…..Richard is a powerful actor with a wide range, and we’re very excited to be handing Thorn over to him. In this partnership, we need Richard to give us his depth, range, and emotion as an actor — and we’ll make him look like a dwarf!”
So, you see dear unsatisfied and worried Tolkien fans, the director himself is on our side! He trusts Richard immensely, it seems. By the way, take care, Mr Jackson, and recover soon from the sudden urgent surgery you had to undergo. February 14th is so near and all the dwarves are working hard and  waiting for you back down there at the boot camp.

Richard has a Northern Brit,  gentleman-like charm which very few women can resist, I know. But read these excerpts from interviews with his colleagues. They are women of course but... why should they lie?

Lucy Griffiths playing Lady Marian in BBC Robin Hood, replying to a question about working with Jonas Armstrong and Richard Armitage, declared:
They’re both great to work with. Jonas has got a very boyish, cheeky charm, and he’s a good laugh. He’s quite intense in his scenes, so it’s quite good to feed off him. And, I just absolutely love working with Richard. He’s probably the best scene partner I’ve ever had. I did a scene with Joe Armstrong, who plays Allan-A-Dale, at the end of season two, and we worked really well together as well. But, Richard and I just understand each other quite well. He allows me to say what I think about my performance and his performance without getting angry about it, and the other way around. I often will ask him if there’s something he can suggest to help me out, or if he can give me a reason. If I’m finding something difficult, I can ask him why he thinks that might be. We have a very good friendship as well. We laugh a lot together. And, he’s just very professional. He really, really prepares his work, and he’s very generous. He’s prepared to help you as well. He does whatever he needs to do, to make things easier for you, which is just wonderful, really.

 They asked Laila Rouass, who was Maya in Spooks 9,  "Would you like to have him under surveillance"? She answered :
Well, of course I fancy him. Everyone fancies Richard. All my friends love him. He’s adorable. I met him a few years ago in LA when we went up for the same audition and we’d got down to the last two. When I heard his accent I grabbed him and was like, ‘You’ve got to stay with me, I haven’t met any English people for months’. We went to lunch and he calmed me down. I love him".
This is not about Richard's talent but about his being always extremely kind and generous as we've heard many times  from many different sources. But I love to think he is such a special person besides being a talented,  hard-working, very professional actor. 
I know I should be ready to accept opinions differing from mine, I know public people must be ready to undergo criticism of any kind on their work. So can someone explain to me why these examples of criticism I've given above just make me furious?
Maybe because they are not supported by real knowledge.
Before wishing you the best of the weekends, I just wanted to ask, have you read articles , interviews with  other actors or directors praising Richard's talent? I'd like to enrich my gallery of witnesses in his favour." Links will be greatly appreciated and added to this post. Love. MG.

Contributions (see comments to this post)
1. bccmee     Orla Brady    Richard's co-star in Strike Back
2. bccmee     Jane Prowse  Co-director in Between the Sheets
3. Musa         David Harewood   Friar Tuck in Robin Hood and Colonel Tshuma  in Strike Back
4. Anonymous Hermione Norris   Ros Meyer in Spooks
5. Anonymous Ann Rice (American writer) 

15 comments:

bccmee said...

Here's a quote from Orla Brady who co-starred with Richard Armitage in Strike Back:

Very few actors could carry off this part, in that very few actors have the physique to be believable as a big SAS guy, yet have a deep sensitivity. He has both these things and that's a very powerful combination. In the hostage scenes when I had to be on the verge of hysteria, he'd get me with his eyes and hook me in.


Source: http://sky1.sky.com/strike-back-characters-katie-dartmouth

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@bccmee
Thanks a lot! Love this one! Added to the blogpost.

bccmee said...

@Maria: You're welcome!

Here's another quote by Jane Prowse who co-directed Richard Armitage in Between the Sheets:

I was impressed with how much human failing he [Richard Armitage] was prepared to grapple with. He’s a terrific actor and a really nice guy - but managed to access a really dark side in his portrayal of Paul that lesser actors are often frightened to show.

Source: http://vulpeslibris.wordpress.com/2009/09/25/an-interview-with-jane-prowse/

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@bccmee
"He's a terrific actor and a nice guy"... Between the Sheets. I liked that one too very much, everything included ...*blushes* . Great! Thanks again.

Musa said...

David Harewood interviewed about his role as Friar Tuck:

How was it to work with Jonas Armstrong, Keith Allen, and Richard Armitage?

All the boys where great to work with. Unfortunately I didn't have any scenes with Keith Allen but we got on very well off set.
Richard is a real gentleman.

http://issuu.com/mickalus1/docs/boosh/6

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't be at all concerned over that silly article in The National, Maria. They've made a mountain out of a molehill (as journalists frequently do). I've been a member at TOR.net for years, and really, out of the thousands of members there, only three or four have seriously questioned PJ's choice of a Thorin. The vast majority are quite happy to trust PJ and there are several who think it is clever casting.

Here's a quote from Hermione Norris (I can't give you a link to it, but I did write it down word for word at the time. Someone else might remember where it came from?)... RA is "fantastic. he's absolutely gorgeous, funny, charming and gentle, as well as being a great actor."

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@Musa and Anonymous
Thanks a lot. Added to my post!

Anonymous said...

Look, a RA-ndom thought on Friday! What a happy coincidence! :)
I loved to re-read all these extremely appreciative comments on Richard by his co-stars and directors, thank you MG and contributors.
Since I've just finished reading TH I can easily understand why some uninformed people can accuse RA of not being able to do 'grim-faced Thorin'. But that's it, they are just uninformed, and ready to judge someone only by seeing one pic, probably the lovely, smiling pics of the Baftas' red carpet. But speaking of uninformed people, have a look at what Italian journalists say about him in the small article for the launch of Strike Back in Italy next week: "John Porter √® interpretato dall’attore inglese Richard Armitage, famoso in patria per aver lavorato con la Royal Shakespeare Company.". Famous in UK for having worked with the RSC, of all things!!!!!! *rolls eyes *
Then there is a reference to his next role in TH, because it's hugely popular in our Country.

So I agree with Anonymous: there is no need to be concerned about it: we know he's really a good actor and I'm sure he'll be great as Thorin. :)
Have a nice w-e,
xx K/V

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@ K/V
I'm not concerned, K/V, I trust Richard and his talent completely. I'm just annoyed and as grimmed - faced as Thorin Oakenshield! And, yes, I've read and twitted and posted on facebook about our Italian reviewers of Strike Back! Genius! Famous for working with the RSC??? I also added that my husband's review on Fly High and on his own blog, though concise and a bit ... "between the teeth" (IYKWIM), is much more ... informed! How could it be different? :-)

littlevictories said...

What an outrageous claim. Now I'm irritated too. Haha Obviously this person doesn't know what he's talking about. Though I confess, the Tolkien purists get on my nerves anyway. I've been a big fan of Tolkien since childhood (my geek isn't showing, is it?) and noticed discrepancies between the movies and books, but I was still able to enjoy each for what they were, a visual echo of Tolkien's genius. And they were fantastic, but not as exacting as some would claim. (I won't bore you by launching into all of the differences between the books and films. You're welcome.) My point is, though I believe Mr. A will embody all that is Thorin from The Hobbit, so what if he doesn't? Maybe it's because I'm biased, but bring on the beautiful hairy dwarf! I understand these Tolkien fans believe they somehow "own" the characters, but geez. It reminds me of when I got in an argument with my sister about Matthew MacFabulous's performance as Mr. Darcy. She felt as if the interpretation of Austen's work was all wrong. She said Mr. Darcy was supposed to be severe rather than shy and that MacFadyen was too boyish for the role. Maybe she has a point, but I still felt it was a great movie and enjoyed the twist on one of my favorite novels. Ok. I've ranted enough. Sorry. =) Right there with you though. That guy is just plain wrong.

BTW I love how quickly fans all rush to RA's defense.

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@littlevictories
No need to apologize, you and your "ranting" (your words!) are always welcome! :-)
Yes, it is incredible how generous RA fans may be and always ready to fight in his defence. Isn't he supposed to have an "army " of his own? Thanks and... have a great Saturday!

Anonymous said...

Anne Rice, American author of horror/fantasy books, admires RA's talents: "And here's my 2010 pick for a new Lestat --- Richard Armitage, a beautiful, brilliant British actor with a face and form to die for and a great voice and immense talent. This is my Lestat."

Taranaich said...

"So far, the biggest controversy among fans with the casting of The Hobbit has to be the casting of Richard Armitage as Thorin," says Pat Dawson

Really? Sometimes I wonder if I'm a Tolkien fan at all, since Armitage as Thorin is the LEAST of my concerns. Itaril and her Elf Lord boyfriend are far more worrying to me, not to mention the desire to shoehorn in as many LotR characters as they can to supplement the two films. Like littlevictories I could go on about the alterations from book to film until the Kine of Araw come home, but it's been chronicled to death.

Then again, trawling through the TORN forums, I sometimes have to shake my head in disbelief at some of the ideas I see there.

Traxy said...

Both articles are utterly ridiculous! Bah! I think the praise you gave samples of (and the commentators here!) is more to the truth, actually. Great post! :)

MARIA GRAZIA said...

@Taranaich
Thanks for dropping by and contributing your opinion. Watching a book you love much and by an author you really appreciate adapted for the screen may often be disappointing.Then when they totally re-write it, you may well be furious, not only disappointed. You are perfectly right, T.
@Traxy
Too easy for us to agree, Traxy ;-) But indeed, I think no-one should judge before knowing. Prejudices and stereotypes can be very dangerous.