January 13, 2012

Director Michael Mann Mentions 'Agincourt' + Yet Again, Truth is More Interesting Than Fiction(see review of Recent Golden Globes) + Historical Fiction or Fantasy? A Chat Between Bernard Cornwell & GRR Martin + Richard Armitage: Recent Interview in Full + Vote for Unexpected Journey in MTV's 2012 Movie Brawl

Director Michael Mann mentions at the end of this recent interview that he wants to make medieval film,  Cornwell's 'Agincourt'

Did you ever read something that explained to you exactly why you had had an unsettled feeling about someone or something and couldn't exactly identify why?  That's what happened as I read the following review of last night's Golden Globe awards.  First, the only awards show I watch is The Oscars, therefore, I’ve never had reason to become aware of the recent host of the Golden Globe awards(last year's and last night).  As a result, I didn’t realize he had skewered most of Hollywood during last year’s show. Woe is me that I missed that golden moment in time, because most of what the following reviewer says about ‘Hollywood types’ echoes my opinions of that irrelevant community. The reviewer is right on about speculating that Meryl Streep’s agent/producer/pusher is buying all these awards for her. Neither the woman, nor her dramatic vehicles,  are interesting enough to merit so much attention - unless it has been manufactured in the first place. Box office results for her films definitely confirm that conclusion. IMHO, the only audience watching her movies - and the majority of others out of Hollywood - are the members of the Motion Picture Academy Arts and Sciences themselves (those earning their living in LaLaLand).

EXCERPT from review: ”..That must be what all the stars were promised this time around: ‘You can use Ricky this time as your punching bag’, and NBC guaranteed it won’t be the other way around.”


Seriously? Another win for The Weinstein Co? What did Harvey do: get every member of the HFPA green cards and/or permanent U.S. citizenship? (Well, he is a bundler for the Democratic party/Obama re-election campaign.) This is a movie that many Britons hated (not unlike Madonna’s W.E.) Shouldn’t that make it an anathema to the foreign press? Nope. “I want to thank everybody in England who let me trample all over their history,” Streep said.

Meryl wasn’t just joking when she thanked “my agent Kavein Huvane and God — Harvey Weinstein. The Punisher. Old Testament, I guess.” Harvey tried to act humble. Still, it’s an astonishing night for him. Two years ago he was down and out. Now he’s The Don again. The fact is he’s just so much better than other moguls at seducing these awards voters and swanning the clueless media.

In a comment by Sally, she speculates that RA could perhaps finally appear in the play 'The Rover' during his filming break from The Hobbit - last half of 2012.  Scroll to end of page for specific posts on The Rover..

MTV: The Ones to Watch Interview
This winter, director Peter Jackson will deliver the long-awaited return to Middle-earth. "The Hobbit," which will unfold across two films, begins with "An Unexpected Journey," as Bilbo Baggins leaves to win back gold stolen from his companions. But these are not just any friends. Bilbo is accompanied by 13 dwarves, each with a larger-than-life personality.

The leader of these adventurers, Thorin, will be played by Richard Armitage, who made a brief appearance in "Captain America: The First Avenger," but will get his biggest Stateside break in "The Hobbit." The British actor played a key role in last month's trailer and will soon join the illustrious ranks of Tolkien alumni, alongside Viggo Mortensen, Sean Bean and Orlando Bloom.

We spoke with Armitage about traveling to Middle-earth, the difficulty of working under pounds of makeup and leading a band of treasure-seeking dwarves.

MTV: Congratulations on being named to MTV's Ones to Watch!

Richard Armitage: Thank you very much!

MTV: Where are you currently in the filming schedule?

Armitage: We just finished up our second block, so we start again at the end of January, and then we go — we think it's the end of July. Then there's a bit more in 2013, we reckon.

MTV: What's it like being on a single project for so long?

Armitage: It's really weird because when we started it was just this enormous mountain to climb, but actually, it's going so fast. I think we've gotten to the halfway point now. It's been really intense but so exciting. We literally just finished our location shoot that we've been out on the road seeing most of New Zealand. It's been the best thing I've ever worked on in my life, by far.

MTV: Is it easy to forget you're acting? Do you get lost in the world the production creates?

Armitage: The soundstages they made in Wellington, [New Zealand], most of the time it doesn't feel like we've been working on a set. Even when there's a green screen there, Peter's vision of it is so clear and his description of it is so clear. The pre-production CGI that they've already created really fires up your imagination. That was the shoot we started with. On location, it's just theirs to program these amazing images into your head, so we can now take them back into the studio.

MTV: Will it be hard to leave behind once you've wrapped?

Armitage: It don't think it will be possible to leave it behind me. I think this is one of those characters that always stay with you because you spend so much time with him and it's such a transformation. I'm in the character every day, and I've become so familiar with him. I sort of know how he thinks. I feel really close to the character, and he will continue beyond this job , [spoiler ahead] even though, he dies at the end of the movie. I think he is a fascinating character. I will probably wake up in six years' time and be inspired to think about him again. It's really exciting.

MTV: How did your previous knowledge of the story change how you approached Thorin?

Armitage: I read it quite a few times when I was young. I think going back to it as an adult is really interesting because it is a book that was, I think, was written for Tolkien's children, but when you're creating a piece on this scale, you have to really visualize it for a much broader audience. I think that's the beauty of Tolkien. He does create very well-rounded, quite dangerous characters to play his protagonists. He risks scaring kids. He's the original fantasy creator, and I think you have to invest those characters with the same gravity as if you were making a piece for adults. It was interesting coming back to it as an adult, re-reading it again, because it did have a simplicity to it, which I really like. I felt we could take those characters and really develop them beyond the book.

MTV: You ended up with middle ground in terms of the amount of makeup. Did you feel lucky?

Armitage: It did evolve. We all started with quite an extreme version of ourselves. I think because my character does spend a lot of time onscreen and you really have to understand what he's going through emotionally, it became clear that if we started make the prosthetic as close to my features as possible but still make him a dwarf, it would be much easier to read the character. He has to go on such a journey, it was really important to do that. I grew my own beard after the first block because I felt that it was restricting my face. The jaw is so connected to emotion that I wanted to have that free. It made such a huge difference.

It's really weird now because I can't play the character when I haven't gotten everything on. It's very hard to rehearse when you're not in costume, when you haven't gotten the prosthetics on, but I look in the mirror when it's all finished and I don't see it. I can't see where it starts and where it ends. I just see the character. I've never had that before. It's such a unique experience. It's a face that doesn't belong to me. It belongs to WETA workshop and the people that created it.

MTV: How was it on set with so many actors playing the dwarves?

Armitage: I love it. I absolutely love working as an ensemble member, and we really are an ensemble. There's great camaraderie among all the guys. There is such a diversity of culture and background. We're working with a lot of Kiwis, and there's real mixture of British actors who come from television and theater and film. It's exactly as the dwarves are. When Thorin assembles the quest, he pulls dwarves from all different places to go on this quest. That's mirrored in who we are as actors.
                                    Oh No!  They've paired An Unexpected Journey with Daniel Radcliffe's Woman in Black - Current Results: 
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey 50.88%      V   O   T   E !
The Woman In Black 49.12%

Will we allow the boy wizard to steal Thorin's thunder?  Of course not ;)  VOTE at link above

For many years, I've so admired Bernard Cornwell's respect for historical facts in his writing; therefore, it was gratifying to read the following excerpt during a discussion between the Lords of the North writer and Game of Thrones author, GRR Martin.  As a history buff, I cannot muster as much respect for fantasy pieces as for historical fiction/drama.  That's probably because the creative guidelines are much looser - there's no need to keep within the truthful framework that I, for one, find commendable in well written historical novels and drama.
EXCERPT:  GRRM: Historical fiction is not history. You're blending real events and actual historical personages with characters of your own creation, like Uhtred and Richard Sharpe. How much "poetic license" should a novelist have when dealing with the events of history? How accurate is he obliged to be? Where do you draw the line?

BC: I can't change history (if only), but I can play with it. The answer slightly depends on what I'm writing. I did a trilogy on 'King' Arthur and there's almost no real history to rely on, so I could do more or less what I wanted. With the Saxon books I have a skeleton history thanks to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and few other sources, but there's not much meat on those bones so I have a lot of freedom. If I'm writing about the American Revolution then I have almost no freedom because I'm trespassing on the high ground of American legend and I must stick to the real history if the book is going to persuade the reader of the story's viability - so in Redcoat I changed only one event by bringing it forward 24 hours. And then I confess my sins in an historical note at the book's end. Occasionally I change more drastically; Sharpe's Company tells the story of the dreadful attack on Badajoz and, in brief, a feint attack that was only intended to draw French defenders away from the breaches succeeded in capturing the city while the main attacks, on the breaches, failed disastrously. It seemed to me that the drama of that night was in the breaches, so Sharpe had to attack one of them, and if Richard Sharpe attacks, he wins (he's a hero!). So in the novel I allow the attackers to get through a breach (which didn't happen) because otherwise the story wouldn't work. But again, I confessed the sin at the book's end.

** Cornwell also mentions in above chat that a Uhtred tv series might be a possibility, although he added he's not holding his breath.

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                           During an interview RA has said his favorite city is Rome - the Eternal City


Sue said...

Just voted for the Hobbit, which currently has just over 52% of the votes, but Daniel Radcliffe is catching up fast at 47% so get voting everyone!

Martin Freeman was on The One Show, over here in England last night, doing yet another interview. The Hobbit did get mentioned by Chris Evans (no not THAT Chris Evans, the British one)the presenter. MF didn't say much at all about the film, (he was there to promote Sherlock primarily)but CE said that it was the Christmas 2012 film to watch out for! I must admit that MF has a strange taste in clothes, all these funny little jackets and shirts (not to mention pale blue socks). He seems quite a nice and easy going person though, which is always good if you have to work with someone for months on end.

Richard mentioned that he was starting block three of filming from the end of January to July. Will that be film part two do you think? (Blocks one and two, being film part one).

Sue said...

Just remembered! When Martin Freeman was on The One Show last night they were tasting lots of food. MF really got stuck into a butter, cheese and leek pie - looked lovely too!(The pie I mean not MF). Anyway I digress, there was a chef talking about Lancashire hotpot and that it was mentioned in the book North and South in the scene where John Thornton sits down and eats with his employees at the mill. (Actually if I remember rightly it was called stew, which is the same difference basically).How about that then!

RiCrAr said...

Agreed, Sue, MF strikes me too as a very laid back and unpretentious person..feet planted firmly on the ground -- other than when they're quite furry and covering much territory in Middle Earth;)
*feeling silly with new found appreciation of good health*

So, Lancashire hotpot is more like a thick stew than soup? I thought the 'hot' might refer to highly seasoned with spices? The cheese & leek pie does sound yummy. There's a greek dish called Spanikopita which contains melted feta cheese, spinach & onions in a crust.*shlurp* making myself hungry:) It's difficult to believe 48hrs ago I could not look at food.

Daniel Radcliffe is still running away with the MTV movie brawl poll. Oh well, if Richard had to lose to someone, better to mini-RA than someone else. Sounds as though Daniel will soon be a married man. Hope it all works out well for him.

There's a link above to a fascinating chat between Bernard Cornwell and Game of Thrones writer, Geo Marttin. The former mentions there might be a Uhtred(Lords of the North) tv series. He did add that he won't hold his breath waiting for it. Couldn't help but speculate who might star - of course you know who my first choice would be. Will Mr Big-time Movie Star be content w/starring in another TV series now that he's seen Wellywood?:)

Upon reading Richard's remark that the Hobbit wraps at the end of July, with possibly more filming in 2013, I couldn't help but wonder what he might have planned for the last 6mos of 2012? Just R&R or possibly another project of some sort?

Sally said...

Sue, about filming Hobbit 2, Richard has mentioned that at the start of this second block he had to film for a part in H2, and used the time between block 1 and 2 to prepare (read study Tolkien) himself to get to know all about this character Thorin Oakenshield.

Ricrar, upon his plans of second half of 2012, last year or earlier he mentioned to do a Restoration play The Rover, probably as Willmore.

RiCrAr said...

Welcome Sally :) I join you in hoping Richard might finally appear in The Rover during the last half of 2012. That would be glorious. I've added a link above to past posts that give details about THE ROVER and it's writer. Scroll to last 3 posts at link above.

Thanks for the suggestion - it's fun to entertain the possibility it might happen.

Musa said...

Hi Sally! Hope you are right about The Rover and reminds me to put more money into my Rover/London savings account :)

Ricrar - what a great interview between GRRM and Cornwell. I hope the producers of the Saxon Stories program will listen to RA as Uhtred in the LOTN audiobook because if they do they'll know Armitage is Uhtred.

I do think RA is perfect for the part of Lanferelle in Agincourt, but not the lead. I think there are perfect roles for RA and Sean Bean in Agincourt, would be great to see them together- LOL.: http://whiterosewritings.blogspot.com/2011/04/fantasy-films-fantasy-casting.html

Sue said...

I would prefer to see Richard play Uhtred in LOTN. He was made for that role and would be perfect as him (especially as it seems Uhtred has a similar ironic sense of humour as RA).

It would be interesting if Richard were to appear on stage in the Rover. Many theatres are planning to close during the summer Olympics this year because of lack of bookings. Andrew Lloyd Webber is quoted as saying the theatres in the West End will have a "bloody" time of it, losing money, as nobody is interested in going to the theatre while the Olympics are on in London. Of course The Rover may tour around the rest of England. Mind you Manchester is hosting the football part of the Olympics, so again may cause problems.

By the way interesting Golden Globe winners. Meryl Streep does it again it seems. Did I mention that she filmed in Manchester in her role as Maggie Thatcher? The crew took over Manchester Town Hall, which is a very historic building and used it as the backdrop for the House of Commons interior scenes, as it is all very grand inside (and outside).

RiCrAr said...

Manchester Town Hall sounds interesting Sue - I'll make a note of it in case we suddently get serious about a long-threatened trip to No England. Currently the reason for limiting long trips is the poor health of one of hubby's siblings.

Your description, of the state of stage plays in London, certainly does seem to make The Rover a very implausible development this year.

It's quite a coincidence that you've mentioned the Golden Globes awards, because I've just posted above a review of the show and my thoughts as well. The writer suspects, as do I, that Meryl Streep has a lock on these awards for less than stellar reasons - he clearly states financial considerations in many cases have a huge influence on who wins. The TV network that hosts the GG awards has very close political ties to Pres Obama's re-election campaign organization.

I'm so sorry I missed seeing the host, Ricky Gervaise, skewer Hollywood last year. Can't tell you how satisfying that would've been for me personally. *haha* Have no respect whatsoever for the majority of the Hollywood community. IMHO, tragically they do America more harm than good.

kathrynruthd said...

My mum used to make hotpot with leftover roast lamb...the best bit is the sliced potatoes on top...this gives you a description of a true Lancashire hotpot - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lancashire_hotpot

RiCrAr said...

thanks, Kathryn, the description of hotpot reminds me of what we call shepherd's pie - the topping for that one is mashed potatoes instead of sliced. I'd enjoy either one with all those luscious roasted veggies & lamb or beef.

While reading at the wikipedia website that the heavy roasting dish was at one time set on the stove to bubble away for hours & hours, I realized it probably served in the same way crockpots do today. Put your ingredients in before leaving for work, set it on low, and return home many hrs later to a delicious slow-cooked meal.

All this food talk is making me hungry again, but it's past 11pm here. haha Better resist the temptation to munch on something this close to bedtime. I'll focus on something else yummy instead - hint: he's 6ft 2", eyes of blue:)

Sue said...


I totally agree with your comments about the Golden Globe award recipients. Although of course I agree with Downton Abbey getting a well earned award for the show. About the only award I agreed with. I can't understand why George Clooney won best actor. I always feel that his characters are rather bland and boring, each one more dull than the last. Okay he has those King Charles Spaniel eyes, but that's about it. It's amazing what a bit of good grooming can do to an actor's career prospects (take note Richard and keep lifting those dumb bells). In earlier shows (ER) without the designer clothes, decent haircut etc. he looked rather unremarkable looks wise.As for his acting abilities I'd rate them as passable, nothing more.

I've long believed that many of these awards are given out as a result of what we Brits call "backhanders". Either that or the critics are living in a parallel universe where drab dramas are in vogue.

It will be interesting to see whether Meryl Streep will be get a BAFTA for her portrayal as MT. I doubt it will get the same reception it did at the GG's.

The National Television Awards are upon us very soon (in about a week or so). I wonder if Richard will be invited to present an award and get to trip the light fantastic that is the red carpet? He has done before and it's something his agent might set up for him during his down time in the UK. Of course next years awards will be dominated by The Hobbit and I hope Richard gets his just rewards and receives a well earned prize for all his hard work as Thorin. (Best supporting actor perhaps?)

PS: Centuries ago Lancashire hotpot would have contained cheap cuts of meat such as a Lamb's head or brains, or even pig's trotters! In Liverpool it's traditionally called "scouse". Basically it contained anything and everything that would keep body and soul together. Another northern delicacy is tripe. I remember my mum cooking this with milk and onions when I was a kid. It's an acquired taste but if cooked right it's lovely! (For the uninitiated it's the lining of a cow's stomach). If I remember right there are two different kinds, one being honeycombed. You buy it already cooked and can simply add a little salt and vinegar, but it's better simmered in a pan with milk and onions like my old mum cooked it.

Sally said...

Richard stated that when the Olympics are in London, he would be in NZ, filming TH.

Interesting point of lack of demand to go to stage plays during Olympics.

Didn't have the impression that Richard would be touring with The Rover.

Sue said...


If I remember rightly the company putting on The Rover was a touring theatre company so I assumed it would take various pit stops at theatres around the UK.


I didn't watch Strike Back 2 on Sky. Did JP fade out of the storyline or did he go out with a bang? (Literally!)

I see Meryl Streep has been nominated for a BAFTA here in the UK. Personally I hope the film Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy will get best film nod, but I doubt it knowing the tastes (or should that be lack of taste)of the critics.

See: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1340800/

RiCrAr said...

Sue, I've just posted the opening scene for SB2 where Porter is forced by terrorists to make a confession. Unbeknownst to them he actually did it in a way that sent a message to the American agent he had worked with at one time.

Yes, in first few min of SB2 our hero did go out with a *bang* - blood oozing from one side of his head immediately after he finished the confession. C'est la vie for an upcoming movie star:) Alive and kicking in No Africa one year and leaving tracks all over NZ the following year:) Might've actually been a year's lapse between the two.

I recall Richard saying it was a complex challenge to disentangle himself from his SB2 contract commitment, in order to take advantage of the Thorin role.

Musa, I wasn't sure if the Agincourt film on Dezz's site was based on Cornwell's book - after some searching discovered it is indeed. I'll check out the character you mentioned as perfect for RA.

Thanks for The Rover input, Sally:) Perhaps Richard will finally make that or Richard III a reality once TH is a wrap...both would be even better of course.

Sue, thanks for that very welcome suggestion that RA might have been invited to present at the upcoming BAFTAs.

Wouldn't it be wonderful to see him on the red carpet before another long stretch of seclusion during filming in NZ.
*pretty plz to the powers that be*

Sue said...


It would certainly be nice if Richard were to present some awards for any of the forthcoming award ceremonies in England. He'll be going back to NZ at the end of January I think - until the end of July, so he may well return in time for the Olympics. Personally I'd stay in NZ, I hate athletics myself and find it as boring as hell. I think I'll have an RA character video fest instead!