January 23, 2011

Strike Back Ep 1 + Narration Clips:Elsa The Lioness + Sunne in Splendour Poll + Installment #1:The Hobbit in Five + New John Porter Vid by bccmee + Thanks to RAC for Old Vic Vid + Spooks 7, 8, 9 Vids & Interviews

*Recently closed poll:  Thorin and Gandalf acquired SWORDS from the trolls hideout*

Strike Back Ep 1

Past post of the day: Guy of Gisborne visits Winterfell(Game of Thrones)
Looking at Guy's pic above reminds me of the terrifying lion:) in RH3. haha..not really very frightening, was it.  Purpose of this note is to thank RACentral and RANet for their tweets and providing the following link.  RA narrated Elsa: The Lioness That Changed the World. Excerpt at:

Monday, 01 September 2008 BBC Press Office -  As Spooks returns to BBC One for a seventh series this autumn, Richard Armitage joins the cast as Lucas North, an MI5 spy who has spent the past eight years languishing in a Russian prison.

What is Lucas like and what's his background?

"On the surface Lucas is an amiable character but eight years in a Russian prison has had a profound effect on him. His personality is divided between who he was before he was imprisoned, the prisoner and the person he has become. He has an outer façade which is personable, but underneath is somebody who has been through a big trauma. He is aware he is playing catch–up with the world. He was once the best in his field, and now he is trying to regain his former brilliance. He wants to be accepted back onto the Grid – it is the only aspect of his former life that has remained."

                                Map of the problematique by HeathDances...

How has he been specifically affected by his eight–year incarceration?

"He is malnourished but physically he's fit. In prison he put himself through a torturous routine to keep himself going. He was about to break mentally and in order to stop that from happening he kept his body working. He has no knowledge of how damaged he is emotionally, until memories start to work their way to the surface – he experiences flashbacks and begins to remember things buried deep in his subconscious."

Does Lucas find it difficult to adapt to the outside world?

"There is a scene in one of the early episodes where he is in the safe house and he can't sleep – the only way he can get to sleep is by lying on the floor, effectively sleeping on a very hard prison bed. There are glimpses that make you realise he is struggling to adjust, but as a spy he keeps it well hidden."
How do the rest of the team take to him?

"There is obviously suspicion at first. They are inclined to be instantly suspicious of anybody who has been in the hands of the Russians for so long. A situation arises in which he has a chance to prove himself, but Lucas doesn't play by the rules, in fact, the game he is playing is very dangerous and he pushes the boundaries of trust to the limit. He subsequently has to fight very hard to be accepted and regain Harry's trust – it's never fully given and he has to continually prove himself, there is always ambiguity surrounding him."

How did you find learning to speak Russian and also filming in Russia?

"Learning to speak Russian was pretty impossible, really – I had to learn it phonetically. My biggest problem was that Lucas doesn't just speak Russian; he passed as a Russian native for years, so I had to really work hard at it. I had to make it seem that it was a second language. It was a challenge but I sat down with a language CD back in November 2007 and I also had a Russian language coach. When we went to shoot in Moscow I found I could communicate and understand some of the things the Russians were saying – that was exciting.

"Shooting in Russia was a great experience – we shot in many different locations. Even though Russia and Moscow have changed beyond recognition in the last decade, the dangerous aspects of it are still there – but perhaps that was in my imagination as I was travelling there as Lucas North. We were filming on the aeroplane so I had to arrive in costume and character! We shot footage during the flight and at the airport and used every second of the day we had there to shoot."

Was there time for laughing on set?

"Spooks is obviously a serious show, so there is a great need to laugh whenever possible to diffuse the atmosphere. There is often a "gallows" humour between the characters, particularly Harry and Ros, and the writers cleverly manage to get humour into a very serious arena. There was one particularly funny occasion, when I was pulled over by the police and cautioned during a driving sequence. I was asked to open the boot of the vehicle, oblivious as to why. I did as I was told and found most of the camera and sound crew crammed into the boot looking sheepish. We obviously had permission to film and, as all the crew were wearing seat belts, we were ok. The problem was, when asked for my name I told them it was Lucas North and I was working for MI5 – that's when the director stepped in to save me!"

Spooks is notorious for killing its lead characters. Do you worry this might happen to you?

"To be honest I haven't thought about it too much. However, on judging the way characters tend to get killed off, I think when Lucas's time comes I'll welcome it. When Spooks characters are killed off, or disappear, it's usually the most memorable moment of the episode, or even series. There are moments in this series that take your breath away – giving that rare feeling of wanting to look away but having to watch compulsively though your fingers."

                  Always an adraline rush - John Porter 'That's All Lies' by bccmee - Don't miss her clever placement of highway signs at the very end.


(Interview cont'd) - How does filming Spooks compare to filming Robin Hood?

"They are both so different. Robin Hood is a fantasy legend and historic piece, so it all feels heightened and dramatic – I arrive on a horse, my character is bombastic and has a particular way of moving and communicating, which is public and aggressive. Lucas North is the opposite – he disappears into society and then works undercover. What he and the rest of the team do is subversive, slick and fine. It couldn't be more different, which has been a great challenge. It's been a really interesting year."

Thank you RACentral for uploading the following to youtube.  You need to be very attentive at the beginning of the following vid in order to catch a glimpse of a particular actor.  Don't understand why there isn't more of him - did they really believe we'd prefer to watch everyone else rather than....never mind;)

Seems like an appropriate place for the following video which is Ian McKellen in his production of Richard III.  While searching for a movie starring the current dowager in Downton Abbey - Dame Maggie Smith - found Sir Ian's production of Richard III and realized THE HOBBIT's Thorin and Gandalf definitely have that interest in common.
[Spooks 9 will be a gift to my valentine this year, although he'll need to wait a month to see it.  He's enjoyed S7 & 8 and has already asked if there was a S9.  However, he doesn't realize that Lucas transformed into an emotional basketcase and disappeared temporarily or permanently - which, of course, is yet to be determined]

RA Interview: Monday, 13 September 2010 00:00 BBC Press Office Spooks returns to BBC One this autumn for a ninth series. Richard Armitage, who plays MI5 agent Lucas North, reveals what's in store.

What can viewers expect from the new series of Spooks?

"This year the storylines feel very politically current but we also learn a lot more about the team. Who are these people, what lies beneath the surface, who are they true to, what secrets do they hide in order to do their jobs? Deception and betrayal are key. Of course there are also exciting and intriguing stories of the week but the overall series arc really unravels the character of Lucas North and blows his whole world apart. His loyalty and his future at MI5 are all under the microscope."

How does Ros's death affect Lucas and the rest of the team?

"Ros's death has rocked everyone's world. The feeling is that if someone as skilled as Ros can go down, then no one is safe. It has made everyone really question what it means and what price can be paid doing the job. On a practical level it leaves Harry with no choice but to make Lucas head of Section D. Lucas has longed for Harry's trust and acceptance but he has received it by default and it is bittersweet."

What's it been like working with new actors/characters? Has it made you feel like one of the old school?

"The series opens with the introduction of four new characters: Beth Bailey and Dimitri Levendis, played by Sophia Myles and Max Brown; a new Home Secretary played by Simon Russell Beale; and Vaughn, a character from Lucas's past, played by Iain Glen. I feel a bit like the older generation as it feels like a new "'super spook generation" has come on board. Dimitri is ex-SBS, and Beth comes from a background in private security, a "mercenary" as Lucas puts it. He presses Harry to allow him to assemble this team. Dimitri is solid, useful and youthful but Beth is a bit of a liability. Viewers will have to wait and see if she becomes a member of Section D or not."

Vaughn turns up from Lucas's past. What does he want? How does it affect Lucas?

"It's been 15 years since Lucas last saw Vaughn and, when they meet, Vaughn has a suitcase which contains an assortment of material from Lucas's life prior to joining MI5. Lucas finds a photograph of a girl, Maya – his old girlfriend. It is the beginning of a journey which Vaughn will control and it takes Lucas to the very edge."

Who is Maya?

"Maya is Lucas's first love; a woman he had to leave just as their life together was beginning. Some 15 years ago, Lucas vanished from Maya's life; one day he was there and the next he was gone. Just like a spook. He wants her back and she is the key to who Lucas truly is."
A lot of the scenes in Spooks are filmed in public spaces in London such as train stations, underground stations and in the streets. How do people react to you and the others running through London with a film crew in tow?

"Most of the time we try to be as inconspicuous as possible which means working with long lenses so the cameras can be quite far away for the initial master shots, but can also punch in quite tight, rather like a surveillance camera. It's a Spooks trademark and a focus-puller's nightmare! But it gives us the chance to get two or three takes when no one realises that we are filming. I feel like the "real deal", trying not to draw attention to myself and trying not to catch anybody's eye.

"We often have to rehearse in another location and then walk out into a crowded area and just go for it. We work on hand signals from the First AD (assistant director) so they don't call "action" really loudly. It's great if something big is going to happen, like a fight, a chase or an arrest, because you get real reactions – of course, if guns are being used, or bomb threats depicted, we have to put up massive signs telling everyone we are filming! It makes me realise how fast London is; no one really hangs around.

"Most people see what we are doing but rarely have time to stop. I think Spooks really puts London on film in an edgy, contemporary way. Not just the iconic glamorous locations, but the urban and industrial side to London, which normally one tries to avoid but is a designer's dream."
                                           'Weapon of Choice' by JulietD001

[Urizen tattoo here: http://allthingsrarmitage.blogspot.com/2010/09/richard-armitage-spooks-9-interview.html  ]
Interview Cont'd:  Lucas has lots of tattoos. What do they represent and do you like them?

"I love them – it is a literal layer. Lucas has always had many layers and this year we go very deep into who he is. I love that his prison history has been etched onto his skin and they can be revealed to remind the audience that his past is cluttered with complications. Each one has a specific meaning from a specific period in his past.

"The most prominent is the William Blake picture, Urizen, on his chest. It depicts God as the architect and it is a reminder to Lucas he may not be able to control or construct his own destiny and that he will always be at the mercy of God. The tattoos also help me avoid the "gratuitous torso shot" as they take about two hours to put on, so "getting my kit off" has to be carefully planned!"
                                What D'ya Want From Me by MissMarian..

O.K. things are finally starting to perk leading into The Hobbit start date.  Here's a new weekly feature called THE HOBBIT in Five...

Switching topics:
The following animation is so true -- the narrow-minded, liberally biased media is currently being exposed for what they are, and they obviously cannot cope with the truth about themselves.  For decades they've had a monopoly on political spin both in the US and Europe - that grip is becoming weaker with each passing day... 


RA has read the following and said he very much enjoyed it.  This novel is based on the historical background which Richard is keen to transfer to the screen...(see poll)

Sunne in Splendour: A Novel About Richard III - Editorial Reviews:

“A painstakingly drawn picture of royal medieval England from bedchamber to battleground.”
---Los Angeles Times Book Review

“The reader is left with the haunting sensation that perhaps the good a man does can live after him---especially in the hands of a dedicated historian.”
---The San Diego Union

“Those who know Richard III from Shakespeare will find that Sharon Kay Penman presents a contrasting view of the English monarch . . . He’s an altogether nice man, a romantic hero as suitable to our late twentieth-century standards . . . as he was to those of medieval England . . . There is a vengeful quality to her insistence that is appealing; it makes for a good story.”
---The New York Times Book Review

“Ms. Penman’s novel, rich in detail and research, attempts to set the record straight . . . it is an uncommonly fine novel, one that brings a far-off time to brilliant life.”
---Chattanooga Daily Times

Product Description:  "The reader is left with the haunting sensation that perhaps the good a man does can live after him--especially in the hands of a dedicated historian."
In this stirring historical novel, Sharon Kay Penman redeems Richard III from his villainous role in history as the hulking, evil hunchback. This dazzling recreation of his life is filled with the sights and sounds of battle, and the passions of the highborn. Most of all, it brings to life a gifted man whose greatest sin was that he held principles too firmly for the times in which he lived, and loved too deeply to survive love's loss.

Reader Review: Five, Ten, ONE HUNDRED STARS! My Kingdom for this Book!, July 4, 2001 By E. A. Lewis "vox meretrix" (Downtown Los Angeles, CA USA)
This review is from: Sunne in Splendour (Paperback) Is it fair to review a book that changed your life? No, literally. At fourteen I stayed up until four in the morning, devouring this story of medieval power and politics, and have been a medieval historian ever since.

Penman has done a fantastic job of turning dry historical fact into fascinating and believable historical fiction. People's motives are not simple and easily understandable in real life, and the sometimes-conflicting drives and needs and desires of the cast of thousands in this book live up to that fact.

While undeniable sympathetic to King Richard the Third, it is not a cloying, simplistic, Good King Richard whitewash. Instead, it portrays the much-maligned king as an adoring younger brother left adrift when his idol dies and proves to have been less than perfect.

Supporting characters are equally complex, from the self-destructive King Edward to the self-absorbed Kingmaker, Warwick, from the unlikely queen Elizabeth Woodville to the helpless pawn, Elizabeth of York, from the insane King Henry VI to the ambitious King Henry VII. Possibly the only black villain in the piece is the Duke of Buckingham; everyone else is painted in shades of grey that make them honest people, rather than props. If you can't stand historical novels because they are boring, read this. ...It's better than the tabloids!


tyme_4_t said...

Thank you Thank you Thank you! for the link @ Old Vic! That would have been so fun to go to! And having RA would be a definite bonus! I LOVE the way he admires & enjoys the violinist...now I am regretting not taking lessons ;)

Sue said...

Poor Richard, sat with his hands clasped in his lap he looked terribly nervous rehearsing for the Old Vic. I'm afraid, with the risk of sounding a right bitchy cow, I thought Clemency Burton-Hill (the interviewer/journalist/violin player) was a bit full of herself (a show-off). She was a wonderful violin player (and she knew it)and Richard looked intently on at her violin as she sat next to him (that's how it looked anyhow - I could be wrong!). It's a shame she had to take part in one of the plays as it distracted attention from the rest of the productions and centred on her too much. I loved it when she was talking to Kevin Spacey and she asked what he was afraid might go wrong during the night, and he answered "that you can't play the violin". She seemed highly insulted and I'm not entirely sure that his remark wasn't intentionally aimed at taking her down a peg or two (it worked anyway!) I wonder if Richard and Clemency compared notes (or musical instruments) during the evening. Well they both play string instruments don't they, although Richard's cello is much bigger than a fiddle of course. (But then again he is a big lad!)

Ricrar said...

Hey there tyme4tea - I've always regretted not taking piano lessons, so understand your violin remark:)
Of course, it's never too late therefore only myself to blame for it. The singing lessons only paid off years ago during large family gatherings - when the ancient Irish tradition of everyone contributing what they could to the evening's entertainment was enforced by elderly relatives.

Sue, do you know if Clemency is married or seriously involved with someone. Perhaps she's the reason RA was lured into the '24' project in the first place;)

If she is already spoken for, I'd surmise Kevin Spacey noticed RA's capture of the major Thorin role and decided to extend an invitation for him to participate this yr.

Clemency did seem to monopolize the camera while we were constantly searching for him..haha..that's what I mean about the difficulty of finding a more circumspect female among actresses. They learn early to aggressively promote themselves.

Different topic: does anyone know the title of a movie(might've been during the 80s) when Maggie Smith played a teacher/librarian on vacation I believe in Spain. A much younger emotionally handicapped young man joins her tourist groups and eventually they become lovers. Happened upon the film a couple mos ago and really enjoyed it - but never noticed the title??

Sue said...


Clemency is married and she is the daughter of Humphrey Burton, who is a well known broadcaster over in England. She went to Cambridge no less and got a first in English! Quite a privileged background. Is also an actress.

Hey apparently there is a Waitangi Day which is celebrated in New Zealand as a public holiday. It's to celebrate the Treaty of Waitangi signed in 1840. I wonder if Richard will be over there in time to partake of the celebrations?

I think Richard might have been approached via his agent to do the Old Vic thing. Talking about theatres I hear that the Royal Shakespeare Company are selling off many of their old costumes. I wonder if there are any of Richard's going begging?

Sorry can't help you with the film starring Maggie Smith.

Ricrar said...

Waitangi Day..eh?(as Canadians say:)

RA is probably deep into dwarf training by now--repolishing his swordplay and learning how to cope with goblins & gollums.

Was very interested in learning that Sir Ian(Gandalf) has an obsession with RichardIII as well. Perhaps between the two of them, we'll finally see the redemption of that monarch. It would be a fascinating process to observe.

The Sunne in Splendour is next on my reading list.

Sue said...

I've just heard that Peter Jackson has been taken to hospital with a perforated ulcer, so the start of filming for The Hobbit will be put back. Take heed Richard being a director is obviously a stressful business!

Ricrar said...

Thx Sue. I noticed a tweet late last evening mentioning Sir Peter's surgery. My intial reaction was disbelief and that someone was making a very poor joke but soon realized it was true.

Can you imagine how the actors must feel right now. Naturally their first concern is for Peter's welfare but after that they couldn't help but feel disappointment that the start date will be pushed even further back.

Yes, your advice to RA is sound about the pressures of directing. Although, doesn't he seem to thrive on professional challenges? His recent Old Vic '24' appearance seems to confirm that attitude. In my unbiased *cough*;) opinion - he'd make a great director. Judging from his interview remarks, he's constantly watching every nuance of whatever career project has his attention. Believe as well that his preoccupation goes as far as lovingly coaxing better performances out of his acting partners.