Compartments in the Mind

I recently got my official movie guide book for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.  O frabjous day! Callou! Callay! There’s much in the book to rejoice about. By now, I’ve read every bit of it and pored over all of the pictures, the cast interviews (Ahem! Yes, all of them, not just some or one of them), all the production details and behind-the-scenes stuff. Here’s my favorite picture from the book, which I’m sure will come as a total surprise to everyone:

The interview in the book was lovely, too. Lots of new insights into the character, which is nice, considering that we have been treated to lots of other insights in other interviews.  I’m sure by now it must be hard to think of fun, non-spoilerish tidbits to feed to the ravenous audience, but there they were.

Among the recent crop of other interviews, though, I liked this one because of the hand-drawn pictures:–revealed?tag=hobbit

In this interview, the journalist mentions that the only cast member to appear in street clothes for the interview was Richard Armitage. And that, I thought, was interesting.

In all the production vlogs, when Richard is interviewed, he’s just wearing regular clothes. There are candid shots of him as Thorin, sure, running through the tussocks or whatever, but he never talks to the viewers as Richard when he’s dressed as Thorin.

So it seemed to me that for all this time, Richard Armitage has made a point of never speaking to the press while in costume. And I wondered, is this due to the rigors of his role in The Hobbit? Now, his fellow cast members show up on camera in the production vlogs and in magazine interviews wearing their dwarven personae, and I can certainly see why it would be impossible to find a time when all thirteen of them could be at work and not fully kitted out. They probably spend most of their time all dressed up anyway, because it takes so long to apply all the prostheses and things.

But I just wondered if — whether it’s just for The Hobbit or for any role — RA has made a choice not to be “himself” when he’s in costume. It would make a certain amount of sense to make a mental connection between putting on the clothes and putting on the character. Plus, it would be easier to get into character for an intense scene if you were already part of the way there once you put on the costume. I know that in his interview for North and South he mentioned how important his costume was to him, and how if his clothes didn’t feel right, his portrayal felt marred somehow.  Not sure if he felt that way in Robin Hood, because I haven’t watched that show as carefully, and in MI-5 (Spooks) it would be very hard to tell which clothes belonged to Lucas North and which ones to Richard. And it would be equally difficult to tell when he was in costume with respect to the upcoming  tornado disaster movie Black Sky — unless, of course, he showed up at an interview soaking wet, which would be kind of a giveaway.

Whether it’s his choice just for this role, or something he’s decided works for him as an actor, it’s perfectly fine with me. But it’s just something I noticed.


12 thoughts on “Compartments in the Mind

    • I thought this was a smart post.
      If you remember, on that bootleg vlog that was shown at ComicCon but which we weren’t supposed to see, the one that appeared briefly on the French website, there was a brief chunk with Armitage sitting there (with naked knees) around that scene with the barrels / fish, and he didn’t say anything. I also wonder if that wasn’t connected to this. He knew there was a camera there and wasn’t saying anything.

      • Thanks! I think you’re right–looks like he’s okay with the extra camera being there, as long as he doesn’t have to address it.

  1. Interesting. If that’s true, it just demonstrates again how seriously he takes his work. It’s particularly admirable, in my mind, to see him create specific boundaries for himself despite what everyone else may or may not be doing.

    • I like that, Trudy–the idea of creating boundaries for oneself, regardless of what other people are doing. It implies a deep level of self-respect.

      • I like that idea, too, for the same reason. However, the role of costuming in the Method, where it contributes to “being” the character, may also be part of this.

  2. I never thought it was his own decision, more likely PJ’s? Because RA as himself would destroy the illusion of Thorin? MF’s personality is particularly close to Bilbo and the others are probably not far removed from their dwarf characters either.

  3. I’ve no information beyond what you have, but my guess is it is partly his own doing since he takes a back seat when there are interviews going on, and the other folk are more demonstrative, and also P.J. and Co. keeping wraps on certain things so there is greater impact when it counts.

    And he said something very similar about playing Gisborne, even in rehearsals. He couldn’t do that character dressed in flip flops, so the external image he projects affects the internal one.

    I do hope that they’ve managed to capture some footage of him in Thorin costume talking to the camera, perhaps for the DVD material.

  4. I remember in at least one of the Robin Hood interviews, he was in Gisborne costume as he was talking about Gisborne. But I agree that it is rare. He’s usually in street clothes when he’s talking about his work.

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