Richard III or the “Battle” of RA vs. PL

[Everybody knows this, but I’ll state it for the record: this post is pure speculation and conjecture on my part. I don’t even remotely know anybody who remotely knows Richard Armitage and Phillipa Langley.  I’m simply adding my 3 cents worth because 1) I need to force myself back to blogging and 2) there’s nothing new to talk about apparently until Christmas.]


But whose Richard III? Art by @Flodwyns on Twitter

I don’t give a damn about Richard III.  Yes, I’m a history buff and watched the Channel 4 documentary with Phillipa Langley. The discovery of the king’s remains was quite remarkable and an achievement.  To my disappointment, there were no new clues suggesting what sort of man he really was: man or monster?  Simply, the king’s bones were found; now they can be laid to rest.  My historical interest ended there, but my fascination with the players around Richard III began. So, yeah, I’m not a Ricardian.

Unfortunately for the Ricardians, the Channel 4 documentary did them no favors. Through the magic of editing and selective interviewing, they came across not only as dedicated and passionate about their man, but also narrow-minded, obsessive, and possibly delusional.  I suspect the network did not go out of its way to interview less colorful fans along the Ricardian spectrum; that’s not as interesting to viewers after all.  In the center of this sat poor Phillipa Langley, depicted as a tenacious woman, but ultimately, the poster child for That Fan And How Not To Be, as she shook, trembled and half fainted over the bones of a man dead 500 years.  I have no clue as to the type of person Ms. Langley is actually.  However, by the end of the special, I felt chagrinned and sad that a televised show which was supposed to celebrate the discovery, ended up robbing Ms. Langley of dignity and credibility.  For me, “man or monster,” turned to “is or isn’t she crazy?”  Channel 4 sowed the seed of doubt about her, something that may come back to hurt her, especially when persuading people to buy her script.

This is where things get interesting again.

Ms. Langley has a script about Richard III.  Anxious to strike while the iron is red hot, she set up her bandwagon by telling the press that Richard Armitage, her main choice to play the king, was in Los Angeles flogging a script (the assumption being it was HER script). Such serendipity!  RA, a smoking hot property fresh from The Hobbit and touted actor to play Richard III, was in L.A. pitching to Hollywood Types, a script connected to a smoking hot international discovery.

As soon as I heard this, I thought: “O rly?”  For over six years, RA has been trying to interest investors in his own Richard III project (the assumption being it was NOT HER script) in which he never at any time mentioned Phillipa Langley.  But such serendipity!  He could set up his bandwagon and use his emerging world exposure  from The Hobbit to pitch to Hollywood Types his project connected to a smoking hot international discovery.

But wait, did Ms. Langley’s statement mean he was now on her bandwagon instead of the other way around? What has followed in the last few weeks from RA, has been the most excruciatingly coached noncommittal AND distancing remarks he’s ever uttered.  He has stated he’s spoken to Ms. Langley in the past. It’s highly likely he has seen the special and its slant on her.  We have no clue what they said to each other or when, or that his being in L.A. at that time had anything to do with her although she wanted the press to think so.  He can’t say “yes, I’m on her bandwagon,” because that might scare off wary Hollywood Types.  He can’t burn bridges and say, “WTF, no way we are connected,” in case her project does come to fruition first and he is sought for the lead.  Also, he can’t say anything because it’s premature and unprofessional to discuss a project before the ink is dry on the contracts and the PR machine is in place.  So poor RA must continue with the damage control.

Can’t wait to hear what she says next.

EDIT: Our Jane in the comments pointed out that she thought their projects were one and the same.  However, this bring me back to whether he should admit he’s on the bandwagon with Ms. Langley.  Could he still be circumspect while throwing her a crumb and acknowledging her in some way?  I just have a hunch (yes that’s a legal term) that something else is in play besides circumspection.



27 thoughts on “Richard III or the “Battle” of RA vs. PL

  1. He said *nothing* he hasn’t said before in twenty different ways, and now they’re in a “battle”? Methinks a lot of fans are overreading here. I’m not subscribing to comments because I find this entire discussion preposterous, as their statements don’t actually disagree about anything.

    • No, it’s not really a battle. Just my usual attention getting headline. I think you’re taking the discussion way too seriously. Please see my first paragraph again. Also, their statements don’t disagree because RA’s statements has been very carefully noncommittal AND distancing from her statements, an strangely unnecessary tactic if that were not the case. It’s a classic example of what’s not being said. I’m surprised you’ve missed it.

  2. Right on, Judiang!
    I agree with everything you say. It is amazing that they found the KR3 bones–and that Phillipa Langley and her group pushed for it. But her dropping Richard Armitage’s name in her interviews–now that he is an international star–smacks of flagrant self promotion on her part. I found Ms. Langley’s approach “impolite” and unprofessional bordering on distasteful, too. Of course, as you say, the documentary did not help my perception of her.

    And you are spot on that Mr. Armitage has had his own self proclaimed project in the works for many years–as RA’s interview by Vulpes Libres 2009 and his other interviews attest. So I also can’t imagine he would throw out all of his own work for Ms. Langley.

    This being said, it would be so cool for Richard Armitage to see the fruition of his long stated goal–of developing a new biopic of King Richard III.

    Cheers! Grati;->

    • Hi Judiang,

      Me again. Ha! I loved your essay so much that I linked your essay here to:
      1) my KR3 face revealed essay from February,
      2) RAFN ladies on FB, and
      3) KRA on FB

      You may think that you’re a “pot stirrer” from time to time. But I quite often think of you as the voice of reason. Rock on!
      Love & Hugs! Grati;->

      • Thanks Grati. We are saying on Twitter it’s too bad the BBC didn’t do the documentary instead of Channel 4. I wouldn’t have felt so bittersweet for her at the end.

        • Dear Judiang,
          Ah! I’ve been offline most of the day working on some new story graphics until a little bit ago. So I missed the Twitter exchanges–and a few other things, it seems. My apologies. I FB messaged you.
          Love & Hugs, Grati;->

  3. Media hype. “Battle of the Cities” as absurd as extreme views of Richard III, on both sides. As for interpretations and speculation regarding RA involvement/endorsement of Ms. Langley’s plan – that will continue till the cows come home….”he said” “she said”….
    It’s unfortunate that Ms. Langley’s real and strong contribution to an archaeological and historical event has been reduced to obsessive triviality. On whose head this devolves, in whatever degree, no idea.

    • Yes, we will never know expect in somebody’s biography. 😉

      Yes, they did her a disservice. Now she has the burden of being a supposed nutter attached to her and RA has to tiptoe around that.

  4. I have been around since rumours emerged for the very first time I think in 2006, later confirmed by him in various messages and interviews. At that time some fans made contact with people from the RIII society and Ms Langley. I have always, since the beginning, been under the impression, that even without an officially confirmed connection, Ms Langley’s and RA’s RIII project are one and the same. RA’s remarks that he is developing the script with writer certainly did not contradict that. She may have been to hasty to mention his involvement before anything is confirmed, and he may be a lot more cautious and also more media-savvy these days but I never was under the impression that she just mentioned RA’s name because he talked about his interest in RIII.

    • This is interesting. If their projects are one and the same, why can’t he simply acknowledge “Yes, Phillipa and I have a project but I can’t say any more”? I think the idle speculation arises because even if she had been hasty, her statement was out there. Instead of saying, “okay, fine, ” he has been careful not connect them in any way. It’s led me to speculate that their projects aren’t the same now, if they were before.

      • Then she has lied? Or used his name to promote her own project? For now, having known about the connection for ages (it was never publicly known, so I’m not surprised that fans that haven’t been around at the time don’t know about it), I have no reason to doubt it. What becomes of it in the end is a different matter. Potential investors may just want to buy the idea and rewrite the script or whatever.

        • Or that he’s avoiding having the project hurt by association due the whole C4 “she’s a kook” slant of the program? Who knows.

          It could very well be that neither one of them will get what they want if the idea is bought and rewritten into something unrecognizable. Wouldn’t have minded seeing RA has an uber conflicted king.

  5. The first C4 doc was perhaps a lesson in being extremely circumspect when profiled by the media. Perhaps a lesson Mr. A has absorbed. For him, don’t publicly count your chickens…..

  6. I had the same first impression of Ms. Langley, Judi, but I’ve since revised my opinion. and see her in a much more flattering light. I have more to say on the subject in a post, but I do not have the negative feelings I first had about her, and believe it or not, the C4 special had a lot to do with me changing my views.

    • Oh, I’m interested in reading that post. I knew nothing about her and came away feeling wary due to that special.

  7. I only wish they had aired the second episode “Richard III : the unseen story” FIRST – it was much more like a traditional documentary showing all the science & methodical approach, though they did have some luck on their side. I think I would have perceived Philippa’s reaction & involvement very differently, then again maybe not. Still to her credit the dig wouldn’t have been continued without her efforts.
    Otherwise I can’t possibly speculate if they are talking the same script, I have difficulty with her statements that she can’t see past Richard for Richard III

  8. I feel Ms. Langley deserves considerable respect and admiration for a four-year slog, a great deal based on historical research and consultation, to have initiated and plugged away at this dig project. Obsessed? Absolutely. The results of the dig are ‘proof of the pudding.” Not that scientists won’t be weighing in indefinitely disputing the Leicester scientific processes and results. Stay tuned for that 😀 ) Just as the nephew-murder will continue to be endlessly disputed. So far, I believe the Leicester project points to these being the bones of Richard III in a VERY high degree. Just as RAworld will be interpreting the RA/Langley script/film relationship – because it’s irrestible, is it not? Doing it myself.

    And, of course, what this discovery “tells” us about the character of the king will continue to be disputed. Different century, 30-year civil war -“who knows what evil lurks in the hearts?” 🙂

    Judiang, please keep getting back here with the challenging posts!

  9. I’m unsure of Phillipa at this point. I thought her statements have been pretty bias and self-serving, but I get that she’s excited. This has been a passion project and I’m sure it’s hard for her to hold back–perhaps that’s not her nature at all.
    But from what we see of Richard, he does hold back. He’s a patient man it seems. I don’t know if he wants to collaborate with Langley or pursue his own project, he doesn’t give us a clue really. She seemed to jump the gun with what Richard will commit to since he’s keeping mum.
    It’ll be interesting to see how this all plays out.

  10. YES! My thoughts when watching the first documentary about the dig was exactly that. They made PL out to basically be a “crazy cat lady” (albeit without cats being mentioned) when it comes to R3. The second documentary C4 showed had all the bits about PL’s “journey” removed, and was much more to-the-point, but it was essentially just a re-cut of the first one.

    When she wanted the flag put on the box with R3’s remains, I think that was a lovely gesture. She said it felt right, and I would probably have done the same thing had I been in her shoes. But it came across as her being a little bit loopy. But then, isn’t that what sells? For instance, I was interviewed by local radio about my wandmaking, and the reporter said there were wizardy type stuff all over the place – there’s not a single “wizardy” thing in my livingroom, which is where we were, but hey, it sounds a lot more interesting than a bogstandard livingroom … Whenever you’re dealing with the media, be aware that the likelihood for misrepresentation is HIGH. 🙁

    As for the supposed R3 project, be it RA’s, PL’s or a joint project, I don’t think I’m willing to commit the energy to caring about it until there’s a definite go-ahead and, like you say, the ink is dry. Until then, everything is just speculation. Yes, it would be fun to see RA involved in a R3 project, as it obviously is a big interest of his, but let’s not count the chickens until the eggs hatch, so to speak. Until there’s official confirmation from somewhere, and I don’t mean from a Ricardian enthusiast who wants to see her script being filmed, but rather from an agent, studio or RA himself, THERE IS NO R3 PROJECT. There, I said it.

  11. What I do wonder about is whether or not Ms Langley’s script is good enough to find an investor and be filmed. She is an amateur historian and amateur writer, to my knowledge none of her writing has been published so far. It may or may not be very good, but it would certainly help if she were an established writer. And RA is no George Clooney or Kenneth Branagh yet. In his current position he might be able to get small independent film in a contemporary setting with few characters/actors involved off ground as a producer or director, as that would be relatively cheap. But a historical drama about kings and battles? That can only be very expensive if it is supposed to look good and attract a broad audience.

  12. RA has said that he knows PL and has read her script. PL has said that she can’t see past RA for the role and that he is pitching the project in LA. Why would we assume anything but that PL’s script is the same one RA has been talking about in interviews for ages? It was pretty clear that back then he was really excited about the project and would have loved to do it, whether as an actor, a move into producing, or both.
    Now, I’m not so sure. While he was following the dig with great interest and congratulating PL, he said, as he has several times recently, that he was too old and too tall for the part. That sounds to me like he’s backing off, at any rate from playing the part. He must have plenty of other choices at the moment and we don’t know what’s on the table. He is being complimentary but non-commital.
    It sounds like he is still interested in the project and wishes it well. Does he still want to do some producing, or are there too many great roles coming up? We don’t know. But I think that the critical moment for him playing RIII himself may have passed. As for getting the film off the ground, this really is the time to do it, while there is so much interest over the discovery of RIII’s body.

    • He said since the Vulpes Libris interview in 2009 that he might be too old when it finally gets made and may end up playing a different character. Producing/directing may be more important to him, that certainly would not contradict what he said several years ago. And if he/they find someone to finance it, they may have conditions as well and that may mean a different actor. In his early forties me may be able to play RIII in his last years, but certainly not as a younger man. We don’t know which period of time the script contains!

  13. I read the reactions on Twitter to Ch.4 documentary, they weren’t nice – I assume it’s the usual bullying from behind the anonymity of the internet. I don’t think PL deserved the bullying she was receiving.
    As a foreigner and a Latin, I felt major sympathy for her display of emotions in the documentary. She wasn’t at all over the top in expressing them. Then I remembered the first time I met an English woman, it was at a funeral in my country, she was the in-law of the decesead. She was the only one who could not manage to show a single tear of sorrow. To everybody in our party she seemed distant and uncaring, just like the stereotype of English being cold, nordic people. (Very different to the warmth of the Americans.)
    Perhaps the bullying is related to the coldness of the Anglo-Saxon ways. In my country, bullying as a social phenomenon was unheard of until recenlty, mostly because we were not competing with each other / bullying each other, but instead we were united in the fight against an opressive social order, which was the major bully over all of the society. We had solidarity, we had humanity.

    What if we ask Ms.Langley directly about what she meant when she said what she said? I assume she has a website.

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