Richard Armitage Observation #1; or Going to Hell in A Handbasket

I’m having problems with new meds and posting on two hours of sleep.  It does wonders for judgment.  Just sayin’.

I still have a jumble of semi-coherent observations about The Hobbit tour bouncing around in my head.  Naturally, Richard Armitage’s interviews have been foremost in my mind.  While he’s evolved over the years in presentation, I’ve noticed one aspect has always remained the same: his head movements.  Initially I interpreted these delicate nods and dips of the head as indications of shyness and many did following his early interviews.  Over time, I’ve come to believe he’s not as shy as he seems (for reasons requiring a whole ‘nother post).  Yes, I think the degree stated by fans is a trope.  However, I do think he’s retained the mannerisms of much earlier years.  Notice the earlier days of mostly looking down and peering through his lashes, gentle head bobs and tilts.  (With the deluge of interviews, it’s been hard to find a snippet that exemplifies what I mean).

Here’s one from three years ago.

No Title

Richard Armitage RH2 promotion interview


Here’s another from December past.

Richard Armitage interview from

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – Video Interview with Richard Armitage


He reminded me of some one. But who?  At first, I thought it was Princess Diana, famously known for her introverted looking through her lashes interviews.  But then I recalled she didn’t move her head much.  So, who else was famous for the very delicate, almost placed, little graceful nods and bobs?  Then I remembered – Topo Gigio!  I kid you not folks, look at this.  Notice the dreamy eyes and graceful head dips and bobs.

Topo Gigio and Friends – The Ed Sullivan Show

Topo Gigio, the famous little Italian mouse, appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show over 50 times. Topo’s delightful antics, including fun musical moments with his friend Bobo the bear, charmed America. However, the enduring image which remains in the hearts and minds of viewers is how Topo ended his weekly visits, crooning to Ed “Keesa me goo’night, Eddie!”


For the those not of a certain age, Topo Gigio is a famous Italian mouse who I adored when he appeared regularly on the Ed Sullivan show back in the stone age (read: 1960’s).  Little Topo became an Italian and Spanish cultural icon.  He seems to have seen better days now; the last I saw him, he was pitching spaghetti sauce on Italian television in 2005.  Now, it’s not a bad thing that RA reminds me of an adorable little puppet.  It just tickles my funny bone.

I’ll go lie down now.

18 thoughts on “Richard Armitage Observation #1; or Going to Hell in A Handbasket

  1. I am unfamiliar with the mouse (he’s rather adorable though) but I agree that Mr Armitage is not as shy as he seems or as a lot of people assume. I believe that modesty and self-depreciation have been mistaken as shyness. He has frequently flirted shamelessly in interviews and that is not necessarily something shy people do (I see the mouse is a little flirty too!). I read a comment somewhere (probably Tumblr) with someone describing him as “painfully shy”. I don’t think they could be further from the truth!

  2. Giggles Judiang!
    I’m guessing that RA channeling an Italian mouse would be even more smouldering. Ha!

    And I tend to agree with Kathryn’s comment above. I’m leaning more toward perceiving RA’s calm quiet poise in interviews more to modesty and humility, rather than shyness. Though everyone retains a little shyness–if they ever had it–even me. Ha!

    And RA’s attempts to flirt with some of his female interviewers–the Sept17, 2010 Lorraine Tattoos interview; and more recently the Hoda and Kathie Lee Hobbit premiere press NYC interview–are so adorably unjaded that I find RA utterly charming. Sighhh!

    Cheers! Grati ;->

  3. Modesty is probably closest to it, Gratiana – a product of a well-mannered upbringing. For much earlier interviews, there is perhaps also an element of hesitation in just how to present himself, and uncertainty of how he is being perceived. It might be noted the generous frequency with which he takes care to mention his colleagues. He has hit his stride now, and appears very much at ease in his skin. And very well able to handle the air-head Kathie Lees of the media/celebrity environment. Oh dear, that was rude of me.

  4. So funny, Judiang! That little mouse is too cute, and I can totally see why Richard reminds you of him. Kathryn makes such a great point about modesty and self-deprecation being mistaken for a high level of shyness. I think the head dipping and the way he sometimes seems uncomfortable probably stem more from those characteristics.

  5. I do remember Topo Gigio… he is so lovely – huggable – cuddly!…. although, I never would have made a comparison between him and RA 🙂
    it’s great finding a link between my favourite things from twenty years ago, and my actual likings. 😉

  6. I don’t think he is shy and looking back on old interviews, i don’t think he ever has been. As others have said, it’s more that he is modest and humble and those are qualities not often seen in people in the public eye. I’m not sure Princess Diana was either – certainly not once she left her teens anyway – but the ‘shy Di’ label never left her.

    The Lorraine Kelly interview sets my teeth on edge – that woman could talk under water! I think the fact he managed to say anything at all is proof he isn’t shy. He had to interrupt her a couple of times and speak over her, which is something we never normally see him do, but if he hadn’t, he wouldn’t have been able to say much at all. He reacts well when she calls him ‘a beautiful boy’ and implies his fans want to see him with his kit off – to be honest, i think those direct statements would embarrass most people but he handles himself well (although his body language says he’s a bit confronted – note when he pulls his leg more tightly underneath himself). When I consider that he hadn’t done many talk shows in 2007, he doesn’t strike me as shy at all.

  7. Excellent points, Bollyknickers! Shy Di? Reclusive Richard? Lorraine’s “beautiful boy” still makes me cringe. Who would say that??? (Kathie Lee, I suppose.) There was always dignity in his interviews – earnestness was marked early. Maturity has brought more ease with showing the sense of humour; He is in control of the flirting now. 😀
    Still, there be dragons there, in expanded American media attention. But he’s been “well-grounded” to date.

  8. Oh this is a lovely comparison Judi! I did so love Topo Gigo! Partly too, because he came on at the end of The End Sullivan Show which meant I could stay up later by begging, “Nooo!… Please let me stay up to watch Topo Gigo!” It always worked!

    I do agree that what was first perceived as shyness was really his well-mannered modesty. But I also think that his earlier interviews showed him as much more uncomfortable than he is now. Well, he should be getting used to it by now. Especially after all those Hobbit interviews! Phew! Good on him for saying the same thing a thousand times and making it always sound fresh and interesting!

  9. I don’t think he is shy or modest, what I think he is is very savvy, you can’t do what he does without being very confident in your abilities. You can see his confidence in his photo shoots, he has no problem smoldering right to the camera. I think he was very well brought up and what some see as a becoming modesty, I see as good manners. They have served him well, his parents much be very happy with the way he turned out.

    • I view modesty in a slightly different way to you, i think, Leigh. I believe one can be modest and still confident in ones abilities. Yes, good manners come into it but i sincerely believe some people feel no need to advertise their talents at every given opportunity. In fact, the first thing i suspect when someone loudly trumpets their success is that they are actually quite insecure and are seeking affirmation of their worth.

      Although we don’t know much about the family culture of RA’s childhood, i suspect his parents made him feel extremely loved and cared for. We know they nurtured his talents but i also have a feeling that they were able to keep it in perspective – i can’t see Mrs A being a pushy stage mother! I suspect the other son was encouraged in his talents just as diligently and RA grew up understanding that he was no more or less worthy than his brother and peers. What we see now is not a man making an effort to be well mannered but someone who genuinely has a healthy perspective in the mad world he lives in. In other words, good manners and modesty are so ingrained that no matter how successful he becomes, he will never become immodest.

  10. He has described himself as shy in at least one interview and he has been described as shy by others, including PJ, when talking about the difference between Richard and Thorin. Though during a Hobbit press conference RA described himself as “very reserved” and said he found it hard to be the leader of the pack off screen. Other words used by him and others are quiet, calm or introverted, also gentle and soft-spoken and mild-mannered. All those qualities are not exactly the same, though it many be difficult to tell the difference.

    I think it may remain a mystery how shy he really is, though I do wonder why it is so important. Does being shy make him a better person? I don’t think so, and didn’t like him any less when he appeared much less shy and more confident during the Hobbit PR. In fact I was pleased to see the awkwardness gone. I also think the argument that he is so shy is often used by those in strong Armitage protection mode and arguing against the idea he is shy is done by those that think a little bit of objectifying is okay and that he can deal with it and they shouldn’t be scolded for it. 🙂

    Me, I think both RA and the cute mouse display a shy-cheeky demeanour which is a rather irresistible combination.

    • I always enjoy your posts Jane – as you cut through the hyperbole and give it to us nice and straight!*

      As someone said up thread, i think we all have moments of shyness and times when we might describe ourselves as such. I think it perfectly possible RA thinks of himself as shy and reserved – indeed he may be in the circles he moves in. I bet he was definitely one of the more reserved members of the cast of CATS or at drama school but put him in a room full of actuaries** and he’d be the life and soul!

      As for RA’s feeling that he had difficulty leading – unfortunately we live in an era where brash and loud seem to be regarded as leadership qualities. We might have better leaders if that idea changed.

      *I mean that sincerely.
      **With no offence intended to actuaries – in case there are any out there reading this. I doubt it.

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  12. I agree with you 100%. I never assumed that Richard was shy; just very well mannered and gracious. Richard is obviously a very well brought up person.

    I do remember the mouse and that makes me happy. Television watching was different in the 60’s and 70’s. There were lots of variety shows. I was allowed to stay up to watch Ed Sullivan but as soon as it was over I had to go to sleep.

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