FanstRAvaganza 2.4: An Interview with Ann Marie

Joining me today is a special guest.  She is a regular presence on blogs in Armitageworld, know for her thoughtful but saucy comments.  She is one of our foremost resident Guy experts and recommended as the go-to source for all things Gisborne. She has also been inspired to write her own stories for the black knight.  Who could be better to help me delve into my Guy issues?  So without further ado, here is our own Ann Marie.

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J – Hello!  Thank you for allowing me to interview you. I’m new to RA fandom, and find myself captivated by Sir Guy of Gisborne. I hear you are quite the fan yourself. How did you come to know this character?

AM – I became intrigued with Richard Armitage after my friend lent me her backup copy of North &South during the great blizzard of January 2010. Having excellent research skills, I of course starting tracking down everything I could find on this very interesting actor. This led me to find the BBC Robin Hood series….and Sir Guy of Gisborne. Swaggering, black leather-clad, Guyliner wearing, long, lean, feral, smirking Sir Guy of Gisborne.

J – When did you realize you were hooked?

AM – I realized I was hooked when at some point in watching series 1 of Robin Hood I said to myself, “OMG, I’m actually rooting for the bad guy!”

Richard Armitage as Guy and Keith Allen as the Sheriff of Nottingham in a promotional shot for Robin Hood S1

J – I have difficulty reconciling my fascination for Guy with my self-image as a feminist in the 21st century.  He is the ultimate bad boy and screams bad news.  Do you experience any problems like that?

AM – No. I revel in his bad boy-ness. In fact, I see a bad BOY, isolated, unloved, suffered God only knows what at the hands of the Sheriff. I see a vulnerability as well as fear and weakness but also great yearning and desire for love and belonging. The 12th century was a very different life for women (although similarities exist in present day in some countries) and I don’t find my present sense of independence and strength affected by the 12th century Sir Guy. In this century he would be a different man I think.

J – What is it about his story that resonates with you: his tortured past, his quest for redemption, his obsessive love for Marian? Something else?

AM – It is similar to what I just previously mentioned. I don’t see a one or two dimensional character. I see multiple layers as depicted for this character by this actor. Without the multiple layers Sir Guy would be laughable and dismissed. Yes he killed people, but he protected Marian from the Sheriff after he discovered she was the Nightwatchman. He burned her house down but then was willing to die by her side.

Richard Armitage as Guy and Lucy Griffiths as Marian, Robin Hood S1

Shades of light and dark, shades of grey. There is a poem that resonates for me when I think of Sir Guy of Gisborne that might have comforted him had it existed when he lived:

If a sadness rises in front of you,

larger than any you have ever seen;

if an anxiety like light and cloud-shadows moves over your hands and over everything you do.

You must realize that something is happening to you,

that life has not forgotten you,

that it holds you in its hand and will not let you fall.

~Rainer Maria Rilke~Letters to a Young Poet

Richard Armitage in “Glamor Guy” mode, Robin Hood S3

J – The show’s producers and writers capitalized on RA’s looks and physique with the black leather and glamor shots. Do you think Guy’s nasty side would have been as palatable had they not done that?

AM – I don’t think they prettied him up on purpose. The man is just attractive. I mean, black leather, black eyeliner, black hair, smirking, growling, killing, threatening. Seriously, what more could they do to scream, “Hey folks, this is the bad guy here!” The problem was, they handed the part to an actor that breathed life into the character and gave him a heart and a soul (neither in pristine condition, I might add). The man is mesmerizing on camera, even when he’s in the background I just watch him. Just when you think he’s tipped over into the abyss of evil, he does something, just one little thing, to show that his soul is not entirely covered in blackness.

J – But surely there must be something about RA; is it the acting?

AM – I, quite honestly, don’t see Richard Armitage AS Sir Guy of Gisborne when I watch Robin Hood, I see ONLY Sir Guy of Gisborne. Richard Armitage the actor, is completely consumed by the character of Sir Guy. I remember reading an interview wherein Mr. Armitage had said that even during rehearsals he needed to wear the black leather coat to play Guy. When I see other characters as played by Mr. Armitage I never see flashes of Guy. Guy remains, tragically, alone.

J – Do you think you would still like the character had he been played by somebody other than Richard Armitage?

AM – I can’t answer that and shudder at the horror of the thought! However, I would have probably enjoyed the series more if someone else had played Robin Hood and there was more of a balance in characters and ability.

The fatal finale between Guy and Marian, Robin Hood S2

J – What is your take on what Marian was doing with/to Guy?  Do you think she was manipulative or conflicted?

AM – As a young woman in that time Marian began to revel in the power that she realized she had over Sir Guy and became heady with it. She had little opportunity for power of any kind otherwise, her life and future were not her own.She was attracted to Sir Guy in such a way that her affection for Robin did not prepare her to experience. It frightened her and thrilled her at the same time. Guy was right, he stirred her. It is interesting that, as much as Marian was all about flexing this power she found she had over Guy, she utilized outside reasons to be with him. Protection of her and her father to marry him, the “friendship” offer of the famous firelight scene, seeking intel for Robin, wanting to help and care for the poor were all excuses, all cover.

She was unable to accept being with him freely because he was so despised and feared by everyone and she did not want to be ostracized. I think that she was a romantic young woman in an unromantic place in history for women and that was her undoing.

J – The S2 finale in which Guy kills Marian was controversial.  Did it work for you?  If you could rewrite the ending in any way you wished, what would you have done and why?

AM – I could not ever really get my head to accept Marian’s “love” for Robin. I think that Marian played with fire and was fatally burned. All of her lies and manipulations came home to do her in. Do I think he should have killed her? No, because killing is wrong. However, a man, desperate, pushed to the limits and faced with his future (and make no mistake about it, in his mind, his future was wrapped up in Marian) disintegrating before his eyes will commit desperate acts.I would have loved to have seen Guy and Marian marry and then watch her work her wiles on Guy to slowly change him. But then, it would no longer be Robin Hood as Robin and the gang slowly but surely became superfluous to the series. “WE are Robin Hood”? I don’t think so.

Guy is redeemed in death in the series finale of Robin Hood; all images courtesy of richardarmitagenet.com

J – Were you satisfied with the series finale? Did it ring true for you? If not, how would you have changed it?

AM – As much as Richard Armitage has said in interviews that Guy had to die because the children needed to see that bad guys can’t win and need to be punished (that’s the gist if not exactly a quote) I think it would have been a much greater lesson for children to see repentance, forgiveness, restitution and the transformation of perceived evil into perceived good. I think some of the fanfic has explored these ideas beautifully. Some would say that those ideas were addressed in the finale and to some extent they were touched on. I think, however, that the greater struggle is to do good EVERY day and not just step up to the plate for an epic battle. For Gisborne to come face to face every day with the same villagers he tortured and threatened would have been a greater story.

J – Has the character of Guy inspired you in any way?

AM – He, very insistently, inspired me to begin writing fanfic (about him of course). He is a force to be reckoned with, banging around inside my head, and really has no patience for Real Life issues, work deadlines or the need to sleep. It’s all about him!

J – Thanks so much for spending the time to do this. It’s great getting the bird’s eye view from other fans.

AM – It was a thrill to be asked, thanks for the opportunity to wax on about my favorite subject (the Guy inside my head is very proud at the moment).

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[Ann Marie entered Richard Armitage fandom during the blizzard of January 2010 when a friend lent her a copy of the BBC North & South. Life hasn’t been the same since! She soon found BBC’s Robin Hood and Spooks (MI-5). Being “of an age” Ann Marie doesn’t quite know what to make of her fan-girlishness but likes to think of it as an opportunity to increase her vocabulary (e.g. squee, crinkles, phwoar), improve her mad tech skills (learned blogging commentary, twitter, and heaven help her started a Tumblr account called I heart Richard Armitage), and meet some of the most fantastic women on the planet. Ann Marie lives with the love of her life and dear hubby, 2 Shelties, a fat cat, and 2 ferrets on the east coast of the U.S.A.. She enjoys camping, reading, needlework and laughing, a lot! Ann Marie writes her fanfic under the name Annie Lucas and can be found on http://www.dreamerfiction.com, http://www.livejournal.com and http://wattpad.com.]

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