We’re off to see the Richard, the wonderful Richard of – um – RDC5

Part one
(Any similarities to other RDC5 accounts, i.e. by Kate and Guylty!, is entirely coincidental. Mercifully my account will diverge at various points and it won’t read so much like a version of Groundhog Day.)

Red Dragon 5 Convention? Pah! I couldn’t be seen dead there. I adore Richard Armitage’s Dolarhyde but wasn’t mad about Hannibal itself – at least not enough to attend a convention. Why had RA agreed to attend? It seemed demeaning. I wasn’t a Fannibal. I’d feel a fraud and might be uncovered and shamed in some grotesque and horrible rite. It was expensive and indulgent. But the devil [dragon?] on my shoulder started to gain the upper hand. “It’s the Armitage!”,  it muttered, “Heathrow isn’t far”. I had also unexpectedly been repaid a large bill. The Con would be a chance to get a photograph with him at last, after previous appalling attempts, and – it’s the Armitage! In person. By the time I’d decided to go, the Gold tickets had gone but there were still Regular tickets. So I bought one. Hannibal himself, Mads Mikkelsen, was announced and, for a while, Hugh Dancy, and I couldn’t wait.

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My memory isn’t good enough to relate all that RA said nor are my photography skills worth exposing. Such wonders have been archived in the RDC5 blogs of Guylty, who captured the experience so well and took wonderful photos, and Servetus who diligently harvested tweets and images. Kate also has written some great posts about RDC5.  Here are a few scattergun reminisces and thoughts of mine.

Friday 1 February 2019
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The Con was held at the Renaissance Hotel, which was the perfect setting – the long corridors had the sinister look of those in The Shining (but then I suppose most hotel corridors do).

The first sighting of Richard was at the opening ceremony. One by one the guests came on stage, RA second before last. After some gloriously silly shadow-puppetry, foreshadowing the Red Dragon’s entrance, he appeared, not seeming as tall as expected, and, as if in character, wearing a leather jacket, black jeans and boots, with dark short hair and not too much beard (hurrah). Dolarhyde was back on stage.

shadowpuppet
Hello Dolly!

RA was absurdly handsome – of course – and looked healthier and younger than his drawn and frail appearance in photographs last year. Maybe it was the weird situation of the Hannibal con or my excited nerves but I felt uncharacteristically emotional seeing him in the same room, more so than on a previous occasion in Leeds. Perhaps it was the warm reception of the audience cheering and responding to his friendliness and good-naturedness (on stage).

Saturday
I had volunteered to steward at the event and was luckily given a slot at both the Saturday and Sunday photo sessions. This was a privileged opportunity to spend time observing the Glorious One, although I alternated between neglecting my duties to peer surreptitiously at him and then reluctantly averting my gaze because I felt like a sinister voyeur. RA was dressed in similar dark clothes to the previous day but his manner was quite different: face set, avoiding eye contact and looking stiff and uncomfortable. On stage, addressing the Fannibals, he could play to the audience, be in character; it is not the same as meeting people individually, as himself or a version of himself.

We were told that, as stewards, we could leap in to the photo queues when we saw an opportunity. What! Not queue for ages patiently? I can’t do that! I’m British! I stubbornly joined the end of the queue for Richard Armitage. We had been warned off inappropriate touching or lifting (like that was going to happen with a 6ft+ man). When near to the object of desire we found out that Richard had asked not to be hugged. This was in stark contrast to the other side of the room where other Hannibal guests, Mads Mikkelsen and Jeremy Davies, were squeezing the life out of fans and I had been looking forward to a similar bear-hug with RA. Disappointing but I can’t blame him, whatever his reasons.

When my turn came I just couldn’t look him in the eye, due to my own shyness and awareness of the disparity between my rapture and his likely discomfort.  I lurched next to the Armitage, looked at the camera, thanked him, all of it a blur.

Just as I was leaving I felt a deep voice vibrating really close to my ear as, giraffe-like, Richard had swooped down from a great height to whisper, “You stepped off the mark!”  Small crumbs, I know, but his voice was so intimate and unexpected that it shot volts through me. What had I done? Groped him by mistake?  Was it because my sleeve had ‘accidentally’ touched his? I realised later that there were taped marks on the floor to indicate where to stand.   This wasn’t the first time I had brought out the headmaster in him: at Leeds for the Urban and the Shed Crew premier I had received an admonishment from him for not taking a selfie properly and now here was another finger-wagging.

Finger wagging

Finger-wagging

I still don’t know what the implications of not standing on the mark were – a badly composed photograph or standing too near to a guest perhaps. It was too late to do anything about it anyway.

Here is one of many replica poses by RA from the photo shoot.hhhhhhh

After the photographs there was a Richard Q&A, he seemed slightly more relaxed but still rather diffident. These are the best of my shaking photos, which is not saying much.

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I love the bit of  hair sticking up at the back of his head.

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From my position RA was quite difficult to see, because of the elaborate flower crowns, so my best view was of the enlarging screen at the side.

Most of the Q &A responses have been reported elsewhere so I won’t repeat them but one of his answers struck a chord with something I’d been contemplating over the weekend, and previously. He said that during the run of the Crucible his face changed considerably (Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde came to mind) until at the end he thought that he had aged 10 years. He said that when he met Yael Farber in New York later she didn’t recognise him (presumably his youthful looks had sprung back). Having the opportunity to gaze at his ever handsome but mellow features, I could see few vestiges of Lucas, Guy, Thornton etc, Daniel even – although of course he was still playing a role of sorts at the convention.

So different: John, Lucas, Guy, Daniel and John, with Richard
I know RA had different hair, lighting etc in these roles and he is older now but not to the degree of making it difficult to believe he is the same man inhabiting these roles. It shows what a truly remarkable actor he is. The many faces of Richard Armitage was further brought home later in my hotel room. Not being able to resist watching the Hobbit for the hundredth-millionth time I marvelled at the strangeness of watching the distanced, filmed, performance of a heavily made-up Armitage in New Zealand when he was in reality at the hotel that weekend.

When the Q&A ended and we were filing out, the screen curiously started showing images of Guy of Gisborne, rather than Dolarhyde, so I had stay and watch.

It’s not like working in a coal mine but these conventions must still be hard work. The Saturday involved hundreds of small interactions with fans during the photo shoots; next came the Q&As then, very soon after, Richard and Mad’s autograph session, which took nearly three hours. The guests must have been exhausted. I certainly felt tired and emotional.

Part two to follow ...

Make yourself at home, Flat Ritchie

Lucas

Good things have all come at once. There was a wonderful surprise waiting for me at  home on Wednesday. The international jet setter Flat Ritchie had come to visit. Then, after parched months with only ears being treated to the magnificent one, it’s raining visual man – Armitage at Sundance.  And there will be Red Dragon con next weekend.

But first, I have to be a good host to FR. I’m not brave enough to include a video as Michelle did so I’m incognito.

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My hair is really like this

And thanks so much Michelle for the kind extra present – I’m wearing part of it (not the candle).

It was nostalgic opening the box as it reminded me of the excitement on Christmas morning finding a pillowcase full of presents and tearing open all the packages. It also brought back memories of the terrifying responsibility of looking after the school gerbil for the weekend. What if I accidentally sit on the shrine or spill wine over the log book?

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It was particularly touching looking at this, it is a beautiful object made with such detail and care by Guylty.  The messages reveal such warmth in our community.

And photos don’t do justice to the  exquisite little shrine, not helped by my truly woeful photography skills and wonky placement of the candles.

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There were so many tempting things in the box and I wanted to possess all the RA items, so it was hard choosing.

But  I didn’t think twice about grabbing a new addition to my Christmas tree, the Gisbauble.

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And I couldn’t part with the postcards of the shrines, in particular the shiny images of Messrs Gisborne, Porter and Dolarhyde.img_20190126_183252

I love the little details such as the stamp on the back and the RA quote, “My recipe for life? Treat others as you would want to be treated. And lots of chocolate ice cream.

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It would have been greedy taking more RA stuff so I chose this little notebook as it appeals to the old Goth in me.
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It will be time soon to send the box on its way, and it does contain a few more items than the official three, as I kept spotting things that caught my eye or made me giggle. It’s been really good fun, being part of a link spreading RA joy around the world. Here’s to the next recipient – and apologies if she has to struggle to open the impenetrable box because of my over-cautious wrapping.

Shy Richard Armitage lurker lured out by Guylty’s A to Z challenge

Lucas

Guylty's Fan A to Z

Continued …

Part One and Two are here:

Hello here are my final responses to Guylty’s A to Z Challenge. I’ve really enjoyed completing the challenge and reading the contributions by everyone – the differences and similarities in our answers were fascinating. It also gave me the opportunity to articulate my thoughts about Richard Armitage for the first time. Such stimulating questions – so thanks Guylty.

R. OTPS – what’s your favourite pairing? Aside from John and Margaret in N&S, Esther Klug and Daniel Miller’s relationship in Berlin Station has convincing tension, passion, and chemistry. I’m looking forward to seeing if/ how it develops.

Mina Tander and Richard Armitage
Mina and Richard

S. What actor would you like to see him paired with in the future? Romola Garai is a wonderful sensitive actor so I do hope that Bridget Cleary will still be made. I would be thrilled for Richard if he acted with Elizabeth Moss as he has spoken of his admiration for her. The real or imagined romance between RA and Lee Pace was a glorious and much-missed (by me) fancy so an on-screen relationship with them would have been amazing – but unlikely. I’ll plump for Sean Bean who is finally getting accolades for his acting. He has a similar understated sensibility to RA, so they would be great paired together as maybe a couple of sparring northern brothers or cat-and-mouse protagonists.

T. First thing ever contributed to a fandom? Does a birthday message to RA on richardarmitage.net count? The second was this rather freaky Frankenstein mash-up, in ‘Virgin Media Magazine’ from April  2013, which I sent to Ali at ‘.net’.

Richard in Virgin Media magazine April 2013
Frankenrichard

U. Have you added anything stupid etc to the fandom? I see Richard’s likeness everywhere, in literature, sculpture, paintings and in ventriloquist dummies it seems, so I did tweet this picture from Channel Four’s Friday Night Dinner, that reminded me of John Thornton.

 

 

An uncanny likeness

V. Your favourite fan artist/ author gives you one request? There have been some astonishing representations of RA but generally I prefer the real thing (i.e. photographs, film or better still in the flesh). The hyper-real photographs by Ann Boudreau are fantastic and cleverly done, so maybe I’ll ask for a new character to be given her special treatment.

Richard Armitage - credit: Ann Boudreau
Yes, even with the beard

WA prompt or AU for a piece of fan art/fiction? RA being dastardly, potent and sexy in a tricorn hat.

X. Is there a fellow fan who got you into delurking or convinced you to contribute? Guylty again – for inspiring this blog! She may have opened Pandora’s Box.

Y. Choose a work of art or song that reminds you of RA
Typically I have more than one: the unearthly beautiful androgynous men painted by Edward Burne-Jones remind me of RA, in particular as Guy and particularly in the painting, The Beguiling of Merlin, c.1875.

 

 

I’m also struck how similar this pose of RA, as the Red Dragon in Hannibal, looks to The Ghost of a Flea, c.1820, by Richard’s constant screen muse, William Blake.

 

 

Z. A chaRActer headcanon you have? I’m not sure that I properly understand this term. If I could use his persona, rather than a character, then I like to think that he has a wicked streak and prefer not to see my fantasy figure in this sense emasculated or made dad-sy. I did enjoy reading (as others did) a sado-masochistic side into the relationship between the Sheriff of Nottingham and Gisborne,  why, I don’t know – “Kiss my ring”, still makes me laugh.

Guy of Gisborne and the Sheriff of Nottingham Robin Hood BBC
Guy of Gisborne and the Sheriff of Nottingham together

Thank you for reading

Please let me know if I have used any of your images and I will either remove them or credit.

 

 

Shy Richard Armitage lurker lured out by Guylty’s A to Z challenge

Guylty's Fan A to Z

Continued …

Part One is here:

Hello, here is my response to K to Q of Guylty’s challenge.

K. Have you met RA Have you got a photo to share? What did you say to him? I’ve been lucky enough to meet him twice. The first time was after a performance of The Crucible where, sitting together in front row seats, my companion had mortified me by reading the programme from cover to cover, noisily turning the pages, throughout the performance instead of watching the play – and Richard was only a few feet away.  Afterwards I joined the queue at the stage door. At my turn, RA seemed to give me a surprised look (I was paranoid that he thought I’d been the one absorbed in the production notes but he was probably just shell-shocked from his performance). He signed my programme and said something like “Aw, God bless!” in response to me saying how much I’d enjoyed his performance.  This was my best attempt in my nervousness at photographing his face (unsuccessfully – it shows his torso and hand – but it was the highest shot of his body that I took).

Richard Armitage
Richard Armitage’s face

I was so flustered that afterwards I was very nearly killed, near the Old Vic, crossing the busy road when the lights were red.

I also met him, with some lovely fellow RA appreciators, in Leeds at the Sunday afternoon showing of ‘Urban‘. Richard arrived looking tall, thinner than expected and incredibly handsome.  We all shuffled fixatedly towards him like zombies in Night of the Living Dead.  It was Remembrance Sunday and he asked if anyone had a poppy and someone happily gave him a poppy pin. These are some photos I took of him when I was near, ones that are almost in focus and don’t have my thumb obliterating his face through nerves and excitement.

 

 

 

 

[I’ve cropped some people out of these images for their privacy but happy to provide images if required. I think that’s Candida Brady peeping above the phone in the bottom-left image.]

Eventually, he turned the full power of his laser-gaze upon me. He was kind but treated me rather as though I had a learning disability (understandably in the circumstances). I mumbled that I was having problems with my phone for the selfie, as my hands were shaking. He said, “No no, you don’t want to do it like that, you’ll be taking the people in front!” and pointed at the phone settings. He then said something like “That’s right” or “There you go”, or even “There, there,” when I took the photo with him. He stood with his hands resolutely fixed behind his back, rather than clutched tightly around my waist, which I would have preferred (not that I’m complaining, it was wonderful just being near him). We were a large crowd and he gave time to everyone he could until we all had to go in for the film.

When I saw the selfie later it was just of me so, in effect, I’d asked Richard to stand next to me while I took a photo of myself. This was when I contacted Guylty, who had been there, to ask if she might have taken photos of RA that might have included me and gave her a description. She pointed me in the direction of some images that others had posted online – and I found a couple. I’m determined to get a good photo with him one day.

L. What would be a deal-breaker ? I can’t think of anything he could say or do that would be a deal-breaker unless in the unlikely event he became a fire-and-brimstone religious zealot, made racist comments or had far-right views. Pre-Thorin, I would have said growing a beard but that hasn’t put me off – although it is crime to hide his magnificent jaw-line.

Richard Armitage's magnificent jaw-line
Magnificent jaw-line

Perhaps, if by some strange twist of circumstance, he turned out to be a long-lost brother  but even then I’m not sure that would put me off …

M. Russian, German, French – which was best? I don’t know enough Russian or German to tell if Richard does these well. His French is good, with the odd inaccuracy. I love hearing him speak other languages:  Raymond de Merville speaking Franglais and Lucas’s Russian are particularly seductive.

N. Which accent /language would you like to hear RA speak in a future role? I’m hoping for some Hungarian in Berlin Station but I do miss his British accent, particularly his northern accent, and have a soft spot for the way he says ‘Nothin’.

O. Casual RA or dressed to the nines? In leather! (Actually I like both styles, as long as he isn’t too fussily dressed.)

P. RA on big screen or TV? I’ll take either in preference to audio or animation. He’s obviously larger on the big screen but there’s usually not so much of him quantity-wise. I miss the exciting anticipation of seeing him, week after week, in a TV series where he appears in many scenes, so roll on Berlin Station.

Q. Third season of Berlin Station or not? So yes, although it is far from perfect. I found the tone of the second season really quite disturbing in that it gave the far-right characters an easy ride. They also don’t seem to know what to do with the Daniel Miller character. It has been ill-defined so far and so I can’t grasp what it is supposed to be (perhaps this was a problem with the different directors) but he was as stunning as he has ever been in the first season – heart-stoppingly so.

Richard Armitage in Berlin Station

Drop-dead beautiful

Daniel Miller Berlin Station
Heart-stopping

The beard tempered my enthusiasm somewhat in the second season, and I’m resigned to its appearance in the third. That said, I can’t wait to see Berlin Station. I do worry though, as others do, that his commitment is preventing him taking better roles.

To be continued.

Please let me know if I have used any of your images and I will either remove them or credit.

Thank you for reading.

Shy Richard Armitage lurker lured out by Guylty’s A to Z challenge

Lucas

Guylty's Fan A to Z

And rather late …

Part One

A. How expensive has RA been so far? I dread to think how much I have spent. It must be over £1000, although some of it has been for good causes and this makes me feel better (although not much).

B. Which character is RA most like? Which is he most unlike? The obvious choice would be Harry in the Vicar of Dibley but in this he reminds me disturbingly of Harry Potter.

Richard Armitage in the Vicar of Dibley, BBC
Harry Potter

So I’ll say the other Claude, Monet, instead for their shared creativity, focus, and possible single-minded absorption in their craft.  To me he is least like Thorin (physically at least) due to his stature, walk and general hairiness, also in his love of gold.

C. Name a book that RA should star in a film in. I’m still seething that he didn’t play Poldark, as it would be my ultimate fantasy to see him in a tricorn hat. He would be a great Rochester and perhaps Dracula. A master of disguise like Sherlock Holmes (he has the profile) or Balsac’s Vautrin would be great opportunities to show his range (sorry, I can rarely pick one choice).

D. Which of his selfies is your favourite? I’m not fond of his shiny selfies, they look like an alien’s replication of RA and not like himself. These two are my favourites, if  I have to pick one (or two):

Richard Armitage selfies

E. Which of RA’s audio characters should he play in a film? I love a bad Armitage, so Robert Lovelace in Clarissa.

F. Name a play that you wish he would do? He would be fantastic as Macbeth or Agamemnon but I would love to see him play the lead with a sly malevolence in The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui –  although he’s probably too tall.

G. How long have you been in the fandom and how has your attitude changed? I’ve been besotted with RA since N&S in 2004 but didn’t really engage much with social media for about two years (partly as I was in denial). Since then I’ve been a terrible lurker in the fandom for most of it, occasionally contributing an odd comment then scuttling back under my rock. I was weaned on http://www.richardarmitagenet.com then http://richardarmitagecentral.co.uk and enjoy the wonderful blogs by Guylty, Servetus and Perry and am indebted to them and others for all their tireless posting of news and contributions. The size of his fandom seemed overwhelming before but it just feels smaller now (or less vocal) and this has given me the confidence to reach out more.

H. How has your attitude to RA changed? Apart from the first intoxication of new desire, and subsequent futile attempts to suppress it, my feelings for him are weirdly as strong as ever, albeit with the occasional dips in focus and then heightening awareness. I keep expecting these feelings to lessen but they haven’t so far – he feels woven into my fibre. I’ve grown to realise what a truly fine actor he is, which I didn’t appreciate in the early days, and this has added another level to my fascination. I do feel that with all his ceaseless audio work, instead of providing visual stimulation, and his semi-permanent attachment to the beard – which is not a favourite of mine – that I’m looking back more, rather than forward for my fix. That said, I’m always excited and relieved when a new picture appears where he looks stunning, e,g. wearing  the white shirt in the Lost Daughters interview.

Their Lost Daughters interview
Present beauty

And I still tingle when I see ‘Armitage Shanks’ on wash basins.

I. What made you come out as a fan and participate in the fandom? In a word, Guylty! She was very kind when I contacted her about tracing a photograph of me meeting RA (more in the next post) and this blog contribution to her A to Z challenge is my longest and most open participation. Twitter has also encouraged me. I just feel that I don’t care anymore what people think, my obsession doesn’t seem to be going away, it makes me happy and has supported me crucially in hard times – so I want to share it with similarly fascinated people.

J. Are you outed as a fan with friends and family? A couple of my friends know, due to my insistence that they watched a ‘children’s programme’ (Robin Hood) in total silence when they were staying on separate occasions. My son and partner would have been astonishingly unobservant not to notice a particular theme, over time,  with the accumulating DVDs, the missing pages from magazines and my programme/film choices. My sister and brother know but curiously several really close friends don’t. I’ve never been able to own up, partly through embarrassment, and it would be weird now to tell them, as I’ve kept it from them for so long. This blog is the first time I’ve articulated my feelings about RA to anyone, apart from lusty phoarrrs.

Lucas North
Lusty phoarrrs

Do let me know if I have used any of your images and I will either remove it or credit.

Part  Two to follow …