I promised a reaction to Richard Armitage at Comic Con, but hit the wall a bit on the fangurling. After all, I’m not an ardent fan, just an
lecherous old bag admirer. Maybe I need some assistance. Hold on…
Ah, there’s nothing like a visual for inspiration. Where was I? Oh, yes, RA’s presentation. I’ll preface by saying that my admirer status allows me to shed my fan cloak and observe him coldly and objectively. I’ve never had any qualms pointing out that the emperor is wearing no clothes, as it were. In RA’s case, he’s gotten his wardrobe only half right. (I’d talk about Martin Freeman’s real attire but it makes my brain hurt.)
Before you throw the brickbats, Dear Reader, I’ll use my other crush David Tennant as an example. I mentioned previously that DT and RA have similar personalities and rises in fame at relatively older ages. They are both intelligent, articulate, and witty but basically shy, quiet, well mannered, modest, geeky, and introverted. When producers cast DT as the 10th Doctor in the UK’s wildly popular sci-fi program Doctor Who, he was thrust into an immense spotlight. The public attention and scrutiny was huge; DT had to learn quickly as he went. It was akin to being thrown into a lake, instead of the deep end of the pool, to see if he would sink or swim. Not only did he swim, he created a modest cult of personality.
Boyishly attractive but not good looking, tall, skinny, lanky, and geeky, he is not the stereotypical leading man material. He utters face-palming but refreshing remarks (after several celebrities sprouted prentious rubbish over a play by Tom Stoppard, infamous for being annoyingly esoteric, DT stated, “I was afraid I wouldn’t understand it, but it was accessible!”) He is unself-conscious or apologetic about it, essentially saying, “This is who I am. Love me or leave me.” As he has said, “I’ve learned to deal with the yin and yang of that.” He has turned these weaknesses into strengths, a well buffed public persona of DT, the man. Sources say he is a quiet shy man in real life. But before a camera or audience, he turns on the persona. At times he gets a wicked gleam in his eye, suggesting he enjoys playing this role; it’s like his alter ego, the personality he would have possessed had he not been an introvert. One of the biggest qualities DT exudes in single or group public situations that draws attention to him is confidence; he appears comfortable in his own skin. If he isn’t, he does a damn good job not showing it.
So what does this have to do with RA?
Okay, aside from him *still* having that beard, I found myself a bit ambivalent about his performance. Don’t get me wrong, he’s made great strides from the nervous, giggly man from the North & South days. He does seem more composed and confident in one-on-one interviews. He displayed charm, intelligence, some dry wit (that flew over the heads of a few interviewers), and ease. However, when it came to the group interviews, his confidence was not as evident. He knew he did not have to speak unless spoken to, and it showed, especially during the EW interview when he became the most soft-spoken guest. Even fans in chat remarked, “why’s he talking like that? Speak up!” During the Hobbit panel, he dutifully answered his question and said nothing more. It is true that time was tight, and Martin Freeman appeared the designated spokesperson, so RA might not have had the opportunity to engage more. But what if circumstances had been different and he’d had more time to interact? Would he have used the opportunity to talk? I don’t think so, and that’s what concerns me.
I understand he’s a shy man who, when he’s not “on,” has a propensity to standing at the ends of lines, hovering in the background of shots, being the only one to pull his chair back at the panel, forever finding some way not to be the focus of attention. RA is confident about RA, the actor, but not so much about RA, the man, and it shows. I have to wonder that if I can pick up these nonverbal cues, other people in positions to advance his career can, too. RA may not want to be a “star,” but he wants to break into Hollywood. That place is chock full of g00d-looking, talented actors. He needs to stand out from the pack. His wallflower tendencies of fading into the background won’t work there; he has to show the same confidence in a group that he does in one-on-one situations. If he cannot find it within himself, then he must act it. That means putting himself forward (at least not falling back), talking more, interacting more in groups, being a bit more forthcoming. He’s come along way, but still has a bit to go.
Public persona report card:
Personal dynamics – A
Group dynamics – C-
You’re really “tough love” on RA tonight. Ha! Ooh! And aren’t we glad that Freeman threw that question about costumes over to RA? And RA gave a wonderful response about sweaty smelly dwarves. Unfortunately, the time frame of the 45 minute Comic-Con Panel presentation–with 12 minutes devoted to the video–didn’t leave any of them much time. And Phillipa Boyens took a lot of time replying–or maybe I’m remembering the EW interview.
But on a side note. Hobbit screen writer Phillipa Boyens is a beautful woman! Here is to curvy woman kind! If she is unattached, I think she might be a worthy and lusty romantic partner for Richard Armitage. She is bright and vivacious, yet has a calmness about her that he might appreciate given his slightly shy ways now and again. I think they would complement each other well. My match making services are available should they wish it. Ha!
Cheers! Grati ;->
Yes, we were very lucky, oh else RA might have successfully managed not to speak. 😉 It’s true there was a time restraint, so I would love to see how he would operate in better circumstances.
Yes, Phillipa Boyen is quite lovely.
Gratia, Ms Boyens is beautiful and poised and charming! As for you, Judiang, you curmudgeon! TRUE fans are monitoring you!
I’m still trying formulate impressions of “shy” RA. In terms of RIII production, I suspect that one must pursue this very agressively. We are not privy to the actor’s deepest ambitions or really what they are, apart from the tornado thing, which is possibly a way-station (and paying the rent) toward more serious ambitions. No idea, really. But I relate to the thoughts on your post.
But we curmudgeons can be kinda, sorta, maybe, slightly fans too! 😀
I can’t wait to hear your impressions when you’re ready to articulate them.
I think he’s doing just fine, for now. I don’t want to see him develop a persona that’s not really him, people would see right through him.
But that’s the thing. He can still be a bit more forthcoming, and still be himself.
Provocative, as always 🙂
As you know, I differ on this, and I see that you make concessions on some of the points where we differ. And you also know I think it’s really hard to make deductions about “the real Armitage” based on these interviews. I guess I’m not worried because I don’t see him wanting to *be* David Tennant. (I’m trying to think who the U.S. / Hollywood equivalent of that would be — you’re a lot more familiar with the world of entertainment than I am.) If he doesn’t want to take up the whole room with his personality in a group situation, that is also his choice. I do think that people have a respect for the quiet person who says little but to whom people always listen. It would have been interesting to ask this question in a situation where he was the real headliner. This was more sort of an “introducing Richard Armitage” appearance, and for that setting, when probably most people who were attending for the Hobbit were more interested in Freeman, Jackson and McKellen, I thought he was very appropriate.
There was one sort of sense in which I thought his behavior was strained in the group interview, and you don’t mention it. I’m going to think for a little while about whether I want to write my own post, because it would be a longer topic (it’s been on my radar for awhile). If I decide not to I’ll come back and raise it here, or else I’ll link. I’ve got a few blogging tasks that take priority atm.
I think it was totally appropriate that the lead actor, the veteran and the creative people behind the Hobbit did more talking than RA. I was more than content that he was there with them at all and did speak at all and made very good impression when he spoke. And I’m very impressed how he has evolved from the shy, giggly, sweet young man from the early days.
Judiang, An A for personal dynamics and a C- for group dynamics! You beast! 😀 (whoops – ad hominum 🙂 ) Now allow me to “attack” Servetus. It might not be an accurate reading of an actor’s personality based on interviews. It is also a bit of a sticky wicket. (the Games began today. In London, I mean.) Nevertheless, we will have individual subjective observations. (And my view is correct!) I would agree, servetus, that the focus of the Comicon Hobbit presentation was not to introduce “The New Star”, but to deliver the best impression possible of the production before release. As for Mr. Armitage, my impression is that he has gone way past the shy? “boy” of early interviews. Again, subjective, I think he has a sense of occasion and a sense of the appropriate. As for moving his chair back, Judiang, he answered the question without undue loquacity, finished. And he is a large physical presence – his shoulders were crowding Martin, and he politely removed them….
That’s my two cricket balls’ worth. 😀
I’m not sure that he is NOT an non- agressive personality, Judi. (Hope he becomes pushy about getting a Richard III production in something like gear.) But the entertainment business is a weird one, with dynamics beyond the understanding of any not involved…and probably of those who are involved.
Oh – that was three cricket balls…(outstayed my welcome 🙂 – unlike RA!)
As a person who is taller than average — 6 feet — it is easy to feel like the huge annoying/over bearing person in the crowd. I stand out no matter what I do, so I tend to a hang back in photos, etc. because I know that I am always noticeable. In conversations one on one or when I’m doing my job, I’m fine, but that photo thing sometimes surprises me. My two cents.
Sorry I’m a bit late getting here. Indeed, your post is QUITE provoking, but I think I will refuse to take the bait! (Even though I appreciate the good place from which your ‘tough love’ springs) 😉
Just a few observations on Comic-Con and of Mr. A’s time in the US:
1. He has ‘handlers’ in the US to manage his day’s schedule for events like these. This seems to be more prevalent in the US than the UK – and he appears to benefit from this added structure and having an ‘order-keeper’ nearby during the day (likely from his team at WME – see point #2 below).
2. He’s got his old UK Agent Duncan Millership representing him in the US (of William Morris Endeavor – run by Ari Emmanuel – recognize that name?? You should, it’s your new Chicago mayor, Rahm Emmanuel’s, brother) so I’d say he’s in very good, very well connected, and very influential hands.
3. Much of what you discuss above should start to fall on WME to manage since they are now his representatives to the industry and should be advising him on all of these matters. WME are going to make sure he gets absolutely the best possible contract they can get for him. Financials, non-financial perks, artistic decision making choices, access to developments available, etc. He should just have to show up to do his job to the same standard he has always done it. One imagines if WME keeps the pipeline of work constant for him that sooner or later, wider audiences will notice.
4. Maybe some of the American cultural of brashness will rub off on him? 😉
5. In the end, it will still be his decision what roles he will want to take, and at what personal and financial cost.
I do think the US is where the money and creative machine is in terms of a ‘show business industry’. He should be a part of that community! Be a part of it, contribute to it, and get his piece of what could be a lucrative pie of money and creative satisfaction – whether or not this coincides with anyone else’s interpretation of how his creative talents should be used.
Thanks for the info. Mr. Millership did work for a different company when he first moved to LA but apparently works for WME now, so it makes sense if he took his client with him. It seems he also represents Hugh Jackman.
That must be somewhat confusing — they look so much alike 🙂
Not at all – they look nothing alike! WME only lists RA for voice work, but it seems they don’t have a page for every client like UA has. And their list of actors for voice work is certainly impressive. Glad to learn he is in competent hands is the US.
This is really confusing, I think I’m subscribing to a comment strand and only ever get half the comments. This is really well stated, UK Expat, thanks for adding the industry details perspective to the discussion.
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I think it was great we heard so much of Philippa Boyens, especially as she was on a panel with 5 blokes! LOL. I thought they were all restrained and well mannnered and didn’t talk over each other. It was very pleasant to see. I don’t want Richard to become more “pushy”. Anyway I am confident he is more than capable of finding is own way in “the business”.
Must admit though I had a chuckle when a couple of his comments flew straight over the heads of the interviewers and then that twinkle in his eyes when he talked about the naughty, dirty, filthy dwarves – priceless. 🙂
I”m late as usual!
I assume you were handing out “tough love” here, Judi? I must admit that I’m slightly more in agreement with what Beachbaby, Jane, Servetus and UK Expat (note: listed in alphabetical order 🙂 ) had to say than with you on this one but I can also understand what you’re saying. I would have been happier if Richard had uttered just one more sentence to balance against chatty Martin!
I realize this comment is so late as to no longer be relevant, but I have only recently finished going through the RA Comic-Con footage (I can only take RA in small doses or I am overwhelmed by all that truth and beauty.) Not to state the obvious, but his behavior during the various interviews is indicative of his introverted personality type. He dislikes small talk, is uncomfortable in group situations yet can talk passionately about a topic that interests him in a one-on-one situation. And I suspect that his characteristics as an introvert (interiority, emotional depth, etc.) are what make him such a compelling actor and so fascinating to watch.
A large group of people have grown to appreciate him for just those qualities. Do we need another Tom Cruise?