I see a thread of interwoven prior and continuing artistic partnerships between the exquisitely talented British actor Richard Armitage and his acting/filmmaking colleagues that I’ve mentioned briefly in other forums in the past–in a chat group that I facilitate–and that I expanded earlier today in commenting on Servetus’ blog (Me+RichardArmitage), the post about Richard Armitage’s gentle hands. But I thought that I would also share my thoughts about these artistic collaborations here in my own blog as well–expanding them again.
Working again with acting colleages in future projects is not “nepotism” in my mind but rather colleagues recognizing a proven talent and then choosing to work with that talent again. This is a tribute to Mr. Armitage as both perhaps him benefiting from these connections, as well as him, perhaps helping someone else land a role. And as Jazzbaby1 noted in her comment to me, the UK acting sphere is a “small” one. Her exact words were “Every once in a while I wonder exactly how small the pool is in the UK since the same ten or twenty actors seems to do EVERYTHING.” Ha! I agree with you. But then, maybe these twenty actors are our favorites and therefore destined to work together again.
Here are the prior acting partnership connections of Mr. Armitage’s that I have noticed–in no particular order:
1) Chris Ryan was the writer for Ultimate Force in which Richard Armitage played Captain Ian Macalwain in 2003 (right). Then 7 years later, Mr. Armitage was later cast in the lead of John Porter in Chris Ryan’s Strike Back Series 1 (episodes 1-6) in 2010. I can only presume that Mr. Ryan rightly saw in Mr. Armitage the only man to bring John Porter to life (left)–times ten!
(Ultimate Force’s Macalwain image on RANet http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/UF/album/UF2/slides/uf2_10.html)
(Strike Back’s Porter image on RANet http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/StrikeBack/album/series1/Episode2HD/slides/ep2hd_042.html)
2) Brian Protheroe played Mr. Bell (far left in picture) in N&S–in which Richard Armitage starred as John Thornton. And then Mr. Protheroe played the CIA guy Samuel Walker whom Sarah Caldwell tossed over the balcony in Spooks 8 (Walker was dead by Episode 5).
(Mr. Bell image on RANet at http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode3/slides/ns3-063.html)
3) Alun Armstrong was the incest dad in Sparkhouse in 2002 while Richard Armitage played John Standring, the farm worker who marries Carol in the end. Then Armstrong was also one of the major leads in 2003′s Between the Sheets–in which Mr. Armitage’s character of Paul Andrews had one of the pivotal rotating storylines.
(BTS dvd cover image found on Amazon http://www.amazon.co.uk/Between-Sheets-Complete-One-DVD/dp/B0001V00YY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1243612867&sr=1-1)
4) David Harewood portrayed Brother Tuck in Robin Hood Series 3 in 2009 to Richard Armitage’s Sir Guy of Gisborne (seen at right in the photo). Then in 2010, Mr. Harewood was cast as the power hungry general in Strike Back Series 1, Episodes 3 & 4 in which Mr. Armitage played John Porter.
(Mr. Harewood’s image as Tuck from RANet http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/RobinHood/album/seasonthree/Episodeone/slides/1_090.html)
5) Hermione Norris was one of the leads in Cold Feet–the cast of which Richard Armitage joined for its fifth season playing health club lothario Lee Richards (right) who dates Norri’s au pair. Then in 2008, Mr. Armitage joined Spooks Series 7 as Lucas North, to Ms. Norris’ Ros Meyers character (left).
(Image of Richard Armitage as Lee Richards from RANet http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/ColdFeet/ColdFeet5/album/slides/coldfeet_032.html)
(Image of Hermione Norris in Spooks from RANet http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/Spooks/spookspromo/album/slides/series7-49.html)
6) I believe that someone else had noticed a prior colleague connection between Shaun Parkes in Strike Back Series 1 episodes 3 & 4 and RA. But I couldn’t remember it initially. Happily a Servetus’ blog commenter named Jane came to my rescue and pointed out that Mr. Parkes had earlier played the “Showman” in Marie Lloyd in 2007.
(Actor Shaun Parkes image on RANet http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/StrikeBack/album/series1/Episode4HD/slides/ep4hd_066.html)
7) Toby Stephens played the self aggrandizing Prince John in Robin Hood Series 3 in 2009 to Richard Armitage’s Sir Guy of Gisborne (Prince John is at left in the picture). Then Mr. Stephens also turned up playing a CIA Chief in Strike Back Series 1 episodes 5 & 6 in 2010 where Mr. Armitage played the lead John Porter. [As an aside, I must admit that Mr. Stephens seemed to have the most credible American accent from among the Brits portraying Americans in Spooks or Strike Back Series 1. The supposed American accent of the actress portraying Sarah Caldwell (sorry that I do not know the actress’ name) was grating; and Brian Protheroe’s American accent was almost there, but having heard him in North & South, I couldn’t get his prior British accent out of my mind.]
[Image of Toby Stephens as Prince John on RANet http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/RobinHood/album/seasonthree/episodeseven/slides/7_166.html)
8) And now Lara Pulver-who played Richard Armitage’s Sir Guy character’s sister Isabella on Robin Hood Series 3 in 2009–is now the new head of Section D on Spooks 10 Erin Watts, replacing Mr. Armitage’s character of Lucas North as section head. There is a bit of an ironic twist in that because Isabella supplanted Guy in Nottingham. And Ms. Pulver has recently said that Mr. Armitage graciously emailed her his congratulations for landing her part on Spooks. Although, since the Spooks writers killed off the Lucas North character–short sighted on their part–Ms. Pulver and Mr. Armitage are not actually getting a chance to work with each other again.
(Image of Lara Pulver as Isabella in Robin Hood from RANet http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/RobinHood/album/seasonthree/Episodefive/slides/5_082.html)
9) Keeley Hawes who played Mr. Armitage’s Harry Kennedy role’s sister Rosie in the 2006 Vicar of Dibly Christmas Special, also played Ella in 2005’s Shakespeare Retold: Macbeth wherein Mr. Armitage played Peter MacDuff.
(Image of Keeley Hawes and Richard Armitage as Rosie and Harry Kennedy from RANet http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/VOD/album/VOD1/slides/vod1-276.html)
10) And in finding item 9, I also happened across Shirley Henderson who was also in 2005’s Shakespeare Retold: Macbeth, to Richard Armitage’s Peter MacDuff (left). And then Ms. Henderson was the lead character of Kath Swarbrick in the small film Frozen in 2006 which Mr. Armitage played the character of Steven (right).
(Image of Shakespeare Retold: Macbeth poster career page on RANet http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/career/129.html
(Image of Kath and Steven from RANet Frozen career page http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/career/170.html)
11) Update: And a huge thank you to Linda60 who reminded me about
the enchanting Holliday Granger who played Lisa in Sparkhouse (2002), and Meg in Robin Hood Series 3, episode 9 (2009). Here is that picture of Ms. Granger as Meg–a Marian stand-in who didn’t “want” anything”from Sir Guy (as portrayed by Richard Armitage) as Marian always did. Meg, who gave her life for Guy
and whom Guy was able to comfort as she died–since he did
not get to comfort Marian after running her through. So, Meg provided some closure for
Sir Guy–and perhaps a true glimpse of being a better man.
(Image of Meg dying comforted in Sir Guy’s arms from RANet http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/RobinHood/album/seasonthree/Episodenine/slides/epnine_135.html)
And finally for those who like charts and graphs, here is a pseudo visual representation of the artistic collaborative connections forged by Mr. Armitage and his acting colleagues:
Armitage first worked with them in -> then worked with them again in
RSC MacBeth touring companing (2000)–Stephen Noonan/Spooks (2008)
Sparkhouse (2002)->Armstrong/Between the Sheets (2003); Holliday Granger/Robin Hood Series 3 (2009
Ultimate Force (2003) -> Chris Ryan Author/Strike Back series 1 (2010)
Cold Feet (2003) -> Norris/Spooks (2008 and 2009)
North and South (2004) -> Protheroe/Spooks (2009); Brown/Malice Aforethought (2005)
Shakespeare Retold: Macbeth (2005) -> Henderson/Frozen (2006); Hawes/Vicar of Dibley (2006)
Marie Lloyd (2007) -> Parkes/Strike Back (2010)
Robin Hood (2009)-> Harewood/Strike Back (2010); Stephens/Strike Back (2010); Pulver/Spooks (2011)
I’m sure there are other current examples of RA working again with his colleagues–and that will probably increase in the futur. I think that is just the nature of the entertainment business that you will work again with individuals. Afterall, didn’t Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy have nine film pairings together? Actors working together with familiar colleagues reminds meof the Mickey Rooney’s old Andy Hardy movies where the teens found a vacant barn, lots of props and costumes just lying aroun, then Andy said “Hey kids, let’s put on a show.” Though a global enterprise, the entertainment world is a “small” business–where everyone knows each other, or strives to know each other in making network connections for the future.
And now that Richard Armitage has joined the wider sphere of international filmmaking with his portrayal of the villain Heinz Kruger in Captain America, and his lead role as Thorin Oakenshield in The Hobbit films, there is no limit to the artistic opportunities that will come his way. Mr. Armitage is such a chameleon in his portrayals–despite some “referencing” of his past roles when in a current role as an inside joke as others have mentioned–leather, gloved hands being removed by his teeth, his devilish smirk, etc. In my opinion, I posit that Mr. Armitage does not “repeat” himself in the sense of his characters’ physicality and their vocal differences being so distinct. I’ll have to do a whole post soon on Mr. Armitage’s deep velvety baritone voice with which he changes accents or inflections so subtly–it’s been germinating for a while now.
Mr. Armitage’s character portrayals and their facial microexpressions, body/gestural phyiscality, and voice, etc., are so distinct for me that I often don’t recognize Mr. Armitage–wondering if he got his older brother to play the handsomely dashing and in command Thornton (left) since the slightly shy but articulate man (right) giving the interview about playing Thorton on the 2004 North & South DVD was nothing like Thornton. You tell me. Would “you” think these two blokes were the same man? I was astonished! And I knew then and there that Mr. Richard Crispin Armitage is a wonderful actor and storyteller. I’ve said it before, Mr. Armitage is an acting chameleon. And we are the luckier for it.
(Image of Mr. Armitage portraying John Thornton from RANet http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/episode2/slides/ns2-116.html)
(Image of Mr. Armitage being interviewed about playing Thornton from RANet http://www.richardarmitagenet.com/images/gallery/nands/album/N&Sextras/slides/ext_14.html)
It is Mr. Armitage’s gift to his audience–inhabiting characters for a time so completely and authentically that we “suspend our disbelief” and immerse ourselves in the story that he is telling. There are a few other actor/filmmakers whom I would say have this gift: Laurence Olivier did, Jack Nicholson and Gene Hackman do, and even more contemparily with Mr. Armitage’s age generation, Kevin Spacey does. And like Kevin Spacey’s regal cat like (“Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil”) or endearing sweet portrayals (“Pay it Forward” or “The Shipping News”), Mr. Armitage has portrayed similar winning characters as well. Mr. Armitage’s Sir Guy in Robin Hood is a panther as my friend Angie refers to the character, and Mr. Armitage’s John Standring character in Sparkhouse was a nice bloke you could build a life with as I pointed out in my blog post #4, and then we have the gritty, tough, honorable John Porter character that Mr. Armitage portrayed in Strike Back Series 1 (Episodes 1 – 6) that I also went into detail about in my blog post #13. Mr. Armitage’s range in character portrayals is vast and unlimited. I truly believe that Mr. Armitage will soon be esteemed as one of the finest actors of his generation.
So, to get back to my original point about Richard Armitage’s acting partnerships, I wish him continued success and many opportunities to work with as many actors he admires and hopes to work with anew and again. Just as many actors no doubt admire and want to work with Mr. Armitage anew and again.
Cheers! Gratiana ;->
P.S. I invite you to share any other mutiple collaborations between Mr. Armitage and his acting colleagues that you are aware of.