My Guest on Judiang Is… RA?

I’m stockpiling entries that WordPress can auto-post.  This gives my procrastinator heart new hope in achieving the goal of posting daily.  High tech, I love you.

The second question Servetus asked me which led to formation of this blog was this: if you could interview RA, what would you ask?  I asked her the same,  but she decided  to play her cards close to the chest.  I felt this was a challenge so I’m picking up the gauntlet and having a go at it.

This question stumped me for weeks.  What on earth can I ask that hasn’t already been posed?  Certainly it wouldn’t be about shoveling elephant poo, his sex symbol status, or his looks.  It occurred to me the best way think about this was to imagine a setting which would set the tone.   An informal chat in a pub wouldn’t work because of the potential for me to become too inquisitive (as in Spanish) and him deflecting questions or not answering seriously.  So it would have to be a formal setting, on stage, before a live audience, a la Actor’s Studio.  The interview would focus on his craft since I can’t see how any personal questions would be relevant unless it concerned some life changing event he had publicly discussed.

One question would definitely have to address his creative transitions.  He took dancing as a child to correct pigeon toes.  He developed a passion for playing the cello but didn’t pursue it professionally due to alleged shyness in front of audiences and instead danced professionally even though he was too tall.  When he realized he was fighting an uphill battle, he enrolled in LAMDA.  There isn’t necessarily a logical progression between these areas, especially in the context of his purported shyness.  It’s also my understanding that not anybody can get into LAMDA or RADA.  How did he make these transitions?  Why acting school and not music school? Did he think he had real acting talent or did he go on a wing and a prayer? How did he deal with the shyness issue?

Another question which has always intrigued me is this: how does he memorize all those lines?  This might seem cause a mental eyeroll, but I think a lay audience not in the business would be curious.  Seriously, how do actors do it?  David Tennant had 358 lines in Hamlet which he learned in six weeks in addition to his role in Love’s Labor’s Lost.  I know they just do it, but technically how?  Does RA use cues? Emotions? Memories? Associations? Rhythms?  Is it a technique he had to learn or does he just need a damn good memory?  How does he reach the point when remembering the lines recedes into the background, and conveying the emotion takes hold?   I would love to hear an actor talk through the process, and maybe demonstrate a scene he would be warned about ahead time.

I’m not sure if I would ask this next question during an interview; he might feel put on the spot.  I would comment on his widening fame and point blank ask about his views on privacy and expectations he has of fans and vice versa.  I’ve read comments from fans reading deep meaning into relatively innocuous comments and ascribing feelings and motives to him that basically sound like projections of their own personal issues.  I know he enjoys being teasingly cryptic with fans to add some excitement, but it would be nice to know what he actually thinks.   Maybe this question would be a good submission for a written interview when he could answer with careful and considered thought.  Not sure how I would pose such a loaded question before a studio audience.  Don’t think I would have the mettle to do it as long as I was a fan.

I can’t think of any more burning questions right now.  I imagine some minor ones like which was his favorite role and why. Don’t believe he’s actually been asked that.  Also, knowing he likes to create diaries for his characters, I would discover what story he had for Lucas in S9 of Spooks.

As a treat for getting this far, here is one of the best interviews he’s given, discussing about Lucas North in Spooks:



4 thoughts on “My Guest on Judiang Is… RA?

  1. Fantastic post.On the memory issue: people who have to memorize a lot of things train their memory to some extent (like runners who train their muscles). If you practice, it gets easier. I had to memorize a lot of stuff as a kid (the Large Catechism, long piano works) and what was hard about it for me was not the memorization of long pieces of stuff so much, but the storage issue — how do I pick up in the middle of the third section of the sonata if I have to stop for some reason? i.e., storing in discrete units instead of long chains. There are also well known mnemonic techniques which he may employ: the so called “house of memory,” where you picture yourself walking into a house and associating particular memories with particular objects, for example, which I find useful and which has been employed since ancient times. (And others …) My preference at the moment (I now usually have to memorize data and lectures, so not exact text or exact performances) are various contextual systems in which one things leads to another. Anyway, just speculating.I also appreciate your later question a lot. I am not going to say anything more about it at Frenz’s, but this whole question of context is really fascinating given how sources for information about Armitage are delivered to us.I’m so looking forward to further posts. Now it’s off to the Viennese modern and the problem of antisemitism …

    • That’s interesting. When I was studying for the Bar, I had to take a refresher course which used a lot out interesting mnemonics such as MYLEGS to remember elements in Contracts. However all this was based on me already knowing the subject. It’s the only technique I know. Currently, my memory is dreadful, which is another reason why this experiment is useful in exercising my mind.Oh my, I could rant for several posts about the current trend towards poor reading comprehension, arguing out of context, and anti-intellectualism in general. I consider the source when reading anything about RA but usually take it face value as long it’s not from a Rag. No matter what he says, there seem to be factions in fandom who are determined to misconstrue. The complete non-logic really gets on my wick.

  2. I find this question easier at the moment – I would also ask him about his Spooks 9 character arc – I would love to hear his take on that now the “cat’s out of the bag” so to speak. Secondly, I would ask him about The Hobbit: the casting process, how he found out he had got the part and what he felt about thatt, what he is most looking forward to about working with Peter Jackson and the other cast and crew, what he thinks about now moving into film and his views on getting a big international audience for his work.

    • Welcome! Ah Spooks. I wonder if he was as dismayed as we were or just shrugged it off. Good questions about The Hobbit. I’m curious what hocus-pocus will be used to turn a slender 6’2″ man into a dwarf.

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