Richard Armitage Role Authenticity: Being Lucas North, 11/22/11Gratiana Lovelace (Post #60)

As I read and commented on Fitzg’s guest post  [(1) Fitzg’s Essay] on Judiang’s blog [(2) Judiang’s blog] on Monday–about tea and Richard Armitage–I suggested facetiously that I would be happy to provide Richard/Lucas North with more chocolate iced donuts for him to eat so that we could watch him lick his fingers, as in this picture from Spooks.  

In this photo that I found, Lucas/Richard licks the chocolate icing off of his fingers [(3)Lucas licking, right].  We’ve all done that, haven’t we?  Mr. Armitage as Lucas seems so natural “performing” this gesture that it doesn’t seem like a performance.  But rather, he/Lucas just had a natural need to clean his fingers–and taste more yummy chocolate in the process.

Another example is this close up shot that I found of Lucas on the phone [(4) Lucas on phone]–as he often is.  We note his focused gaze, his pursed lips, and most prominently, his forehead grooves, or “frontalis(?)” [I corrected this term per Servetus.] as described on Michaela Servetus’ blog [(5) Servetus’ blog].  All three of these facial features will become important in a moment.

These pictures also made me wonder about the many small ways an actor–in this case Richard Armitage–humanizes his character portrayals, and makes the character seem real to us.  I’ve heard my actor friends refer to it as “authenticity”. So, I wondered if we might share with each other snippets of Richard Armitage’s “authenticity” as Lucas North.  In other words, are there pictures, videos, lines of dialogue, movement, clothing, etc. that make him/Lucas seem more real as  a person for us as portrayed by Richard Armitage?  And, please share your thoughts and media links about this.  I welcome your input and I always learn a lot from others’ insights.

To start us off, I’ve linked Elivira Sweeney’s lovely video “Dawn Will Rise” – Lucas North (Richard Armitage fan video below [(6) Sweeney].  It deftly showcases the many small and large moments in the character Lucas North’s life and how Richard Armitage conveyed those moments–authentically, in my mind.

I particularly draw your attention in Elivira’s video of the following nuances in Richard Armitage’s  portraying Lucas North on the BBC show Spooks:

*how his breathing indicates his emotional state (such as in relief at 0:08);
* how he sometimes turns his body,  shoulders first (as at 0:16), almost dancer like in how he moves his upper torso, in one fluid movement;
* how his expressive eyes (sometimes they are the only thing moving on his face–or his body–such as at 0:22) convey veiled surprise;
* how his walking gait almost lopes intentionally (such as at 0:29-0:31), conveying being relaxed to someone who might be following him, while the spy Lucas North is anything but relaxed as we can tell from his darting looks from side to side as he surreptitiously surveys his surroundings (we also see this intentionally relaxed gait again in two examples from 1:01 – 1:07);
* how the movement of his head imperceptibly precedes his eye movement (as at 1:13-1:16), never betraying that he is an actor being filmed, but rather that Lucas is ‘living’ that moment;
* how his mouth is often closed with his lips pursed as if waiting for something and then his lips slightly open (as at 2:00), but he decides not to speak– we see this throughout the video, especially  when he is listening to someone on the phone;  Richard Armitage conveys so much when his Lucas North character listens;
* how his hands do not obscure his face most of the time as some actors do–Mr. Armitage does not “mask” his emotions with his hands;

These are but a few instances of Richard Armitage’s authenticity as Lucas North in my mind that I’ve gleaned from this poignant video of Elvira’s.  Becoming aware of these small moments in Richard Armitage’s character portrayal of Lucas North–or any of his character portrayals–makes me appreciate Mr. Armitage’s storytelling artistry all the more.

P.S.  By posting an essay on Tuesday this week, I’m “breaking” my own self-imposed guidelines of trying to spread out my postings–having them on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday.  Ha!  But sometimes other bloggers–such as Judiang, Fitzg, and Servetus this time–inspire me to reflect upon a topic in more detail–or go off on a tangent, as in this case.  And I want to share my thoughts with you right away.


(1) And if you would also like to enjoy Fitzg’s guest essay on Judiang’s blog–Confessions of a Watcher–here is that link:

(2) For those of you who would also like to enjoy Judiang’s blog, Confessions of a Watcher–it is one of my daily must read blogs–here is the link to her blog:

(3) I  cropped and brightened the image of Lucas North (As portrayed by Richard Armtiage) in the BBC’s production of Spooks, series 7, episode 2, pic 80:

(4) This image shows our spy hero Lucas North (as portrayed by Richard Armitage) from the BBC’s production of Spooks on the phone as usual, but with a twist–notice his forehead

(5)   [corrected, thanks to Servetus’ clarification of my poor memory]  As a nod to another blogger–Michaela Servetus, whose blog me + richard armitage is also a daily must read for me–I chose this picture of Lucas and his forehead grooves, or  “frontalis (?)” [I corrected this term per Servetus].  Here also  is  the link to Servetus’ Monday post about Richard Armitage’s use of his forehead “frontalis” –the grooves on his forehead– for conveying emotion:

Wikipedia also has a discussion about this:


(6) “Dawn Will Rise” – Lucas North (Richard Armitage fan video by Elvira Sweeney and found at

About Gratiana Lovelace

Gratiana Lovelace is my nom de plume for my creative writing and blogging. I write romantic stories in different sub genres. The stories just tumble out of me. My resurgence in creative writing occurred when I viewed the BBC miniseries of Elizabeth Gaskell's novel North & South in February 2010. The exquisitely talented British actor portraying the male lead John Thornton in North & South--Richard Crispin Armitage--became my unofficial muse. I have written over 50 script stories about love--some are fan fiction, but most are original stories--that I am just beginning to share with others on private writer sites, and here on my blog. And as you know, my blog here is also relatively new--since August 2011. But, I'm having fun and I hope you enjoy reading my blog essays and my stories. Cheers! Grati ;-> upd 12/18/11
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15 Responses to Richard Armitage Role Authenticity: Being Lucas North, 11/22/11Gratiana Lovelace (Post #60)

  1. fitzg says:

    Gratia, such excellent examples to illustrate your point. An interesting aspect of many “working” actors appears to be the training that has gone to effect a completely natural mode of acting. Obviously a dance background is a great influence for many. Heaven-given physical attributes do not an actor make in themselves. If Mr. Armitage is, in fact, a “method” actor, it is method without self-conscious performance. I don’t think any of us is aware of “performance” in his work. The self-consciousness that has so often been a feature of many “method” actors does not seem present here. Notwithstanding the thought, training and careful role preparation that has preceded it.
    Thank you for generously linking to several blog sites, including that of judiang.


    • Gratiana says:

      Hi Fitzg,
      I so agree with you about Mr. Armitage’s “unselfconcious” performance in his many character portrayals. He is unparalleled as an actor and storyteller in that regard in my humble opinion.

      Just as Mr. Armitage immerses himself in these roles–Lucas North/Spooks, John Thornton/North & South, John Porter/Strike Back 1, to name just a few, etc.–we, too, as his audience become immersed in his masterful storytelling. We are transported to the world of England’s spy community, or back in time to England’s industrial revolution, or forward in time to our England’s special agents seeking to resolve crisis situations around the world, respectively, etc.

      For me, Lucas North became a man whose rebirth into a new life after imprisonment was a poignant story of getting a second chance in life–something which we all might wish for at some point in our lives. I will ruminate on the themes and tropes in the character of Lucas North’s life one day–after I’ve watched the series again one day. But for now, I simply marvel at the artistry of Richard Armitage bringing yet another character to life for us.

      Thanks for visiting and commenting–and helping to give me the inspiration for this essay.

      Cheers! Grati ;->


  2. servetus says:

    Just to clarify: mentalis is the muscle in the chin, not the forehead (click on the link in my original post if this is confusing — the earlier post had a discussion of how mentalis works). The point was his protrusion of his lower lip.


  3. bccmee says:

    No words necessary. :)


  4. Teuchter says:

    As many have observed, Richard Armitage inhabits the person he is portraying to such an extent that he “becomes” that person not just an actor playing the part. I think this is one of the reasons we find it hard to watch him “dying” as he has done – sadly – in so many roles. We are drawn in emotionally to this person he has created, be it Lucas North, John Porter, Guy of Gisborne or whomever. Having read the following quote on – “Thorin feels a surpressed anger and I take advantage of this role and express my own dark side” . . . . “It’s liberating! I pushed limits of my performance outside my “comfort zone”. I do not want to rest on my laurels.” I don’t know about the rest of you but I think Thorin in digital 3D will literally be breathtaking! I almost shiver at the thought of him expressing his dark side!!


    • Teuchter says:

      Sorry! I got a little OT with the second half of my comment as this was meant to be about Lucas. I have the DVD’s of series 7, 8 and yes, even 9, just so that I can watch him over and over as Lucas (he will ALWAYS be Lucas to me) and I absolutely concur with Hermione Norris when she said he was “sublime” in that role!! It seems that each time I watch any of them I find I noticed some nuance that I missed on previous viewings. It’s not possible to watch too many times!! :D


      • Gratiana says:

        Not a problem Teuchter,
        I look forward to purchasing the Spooks series on DVD. I’ve watched it on iTunes–series 7 & 8 anyway. I love the symbolism that the filmmakers–actors, directors, cinematographers–embed in their storytelling. Such as the bales of cotton seen through the train window when Margaret walks back to John at the train station to go home with him–lovely mise en scene.
        Cheers! Grati ;->


    • Gratiana says:

      Hi Teuchter,
      I agree with you. Richard Armitage “becomes” his characters. And I take his characters to heart as a viewer being told the story by him.

      Mr. Armitag has even said in interviews that he tends to stay within character between takes–which means he’s not necessarily receptive to casual chats breaking his concentration. But when he’s outside of that artistic focus–doing interviews and such–he seems like a regular bloke. I really can’t envision him having a dark side–outside of the charactes he portrays sometimes. Ha!

      I just hope we get to see RA in a role where: he isn’t chased, doesn’t have to use violence, gets a nice uncomplicated girl to love, and doesn’t die.

      Cheers! Grati ;->


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