August 28, 2013

Richard Armitage:Desolation of Smaug Artwork(see link below-Thorin one up on Smaug) + Almost a Given You're Descended from Charlemagne(see link) + Guy Friday + Really Random Thursday

New artwork for The Desolation of Smaug..
Sexiest voices:  Of course, we all know RA is #1 but won't be greedy, at least we squeaked by Smaug this time..

Our crazy uncle in proverbial attic is Charlemagne:

This article explains how there comes a point in history when "all individuals who have any descendants among the present-day individuals" (that's us) "are actually ancestors of all present-day individuals."

and "all Europeans alive today have among their ancestors the same man or woman who lived around 1400 ... About a thousand years ago, a peculiar situation prevailed: 20 percent of the adult Europeans alive in 1000 would turn out to be the ancestors of no one living today (that is, they had no children or all their descendants eventually died childless); each of the remaining 80 percent would turn out to be a direct ancestor of every European living today." 
So anyone of European descent is probably related to Charlemagne.."

New 'Reign' promo photos.  The series premieres on CW channel, Oct 17, 9pm..
Don't care if the following style is authentic to the period or not -- like it!

August 23, 2013

Richard Armitage:Musical Interlude(see Chopin's very own piano in vid below) + TWEEDdledeedee Tuesday(who said it?Scarlett O'Hara or Lewis Carroll..or both? + Today's New Photo Blitz + Ep 3, The White Queen, Sat on Starz

From last December's NYC, The Hobbit premiere:
Hold unto your eyes for next one or the pattern might rattle them out of your head;)
Isn't this next design clever--appears bottom third can be zippered off to wear as a jacket..
We'll believe the following message when we see it..probably means Dec for The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug..
We've watched ep 3 of the Starz series The White Queen about the War of Roses period of English history.  HBO's series Game of Thrones is based on that era as well.  Apparently the reality of the human condition comes as a shock to some viewers;) case in point...

August 21, 2013

HAPPY BIRTHDAY Mr A !! + From Russia With Love Birthday Greeting + NZ Tourism Vid Narrated by an Obvious Admirer + Hilarious Surprise New Birthday Fanvid from BCCMEE + Playing John Thornton from the Richard Armitage Online Website

                                                 Birthday hug anyone?
       Birthday tribute to the breakthrough role - John Thornton of North and South..

North and South : Playing John Thornton (1)

John Thornton was Richard Armitage's biggest role to date, and it was to have a significant effect on his career.

Richard Armitage as John Thornton in North and SouthCasting

"I just couldn't get this part out of my head and I kept reading the book. I tortured myself with thinking I hadn't got the part.” [7]
Given the power and conviction with which he played the role, it seems, in hindsight, as if Richard Armitage was the obvious choice to play John Thornton. But in fact, the casting process for Thornton was a long one.
Richard Armitage was one of the first people who was seen for the role.

“I read the book before I went in to be cast. I got through it as quickly as I could. I felt that I owed it to the role to know as much about it before I attempted to try and convince someone to cast me as Thornton.” [1]

“Within the first pages, I thought, ‘I’m right for this person and for this role’. My roots are in that part of the country and that kind of industry. My grandmother was a weaver. Others were coal miners. I know the landscape. And I knew the John Thornton type.” [14]

But it was six weeks before he was called back to read for the part again. By this time, Daniela Denby-Ashe had been cast as Margaret Hale, and he was asked to read with her. "Something great happened when I read with Daniela. Something clicked.” [5]

The producer, Kate Bartlett, said, “We did read with a lot of actors and put a lot of combinations of Margarets and Thorntons together until finally we came up with the mix of Richard and Daniela, which I think was perfect.” [2]

Daniela Denby-Ashe said, "As soon as I saw Richard, I knew he was Thornton. Just in the way he holds himself, he has a real presence." [5]
“When I was cast in the role of Thornton my initial reaction was shock. It had been a long casting process and I realised it was the role of a lifetime. But then, of course, I was incredibly honoured to have been asked to play it - I’d fallen in love with the novel. And then other emotions kick in, like fear. It was a huge mountain to climb and there’s a lot of expectation for that role as well; it’s a big favourite of many people.” [1]

As usual, Richard Armitage’s research for the role was meticulous.

“Obviously I started with the novel and the novel was around all the time and there’s a great deal of rich, historical information in the novel. But I felt it was important to understand the industry that Thornton is in, so I researched the cotton industry and I went to the various places in England where there are working museums, one of which turned out to be one of the locations, which was brilliant.

"I also read. I think Engels has written a book which was based around the working classes in the 1850s which is incredibly detailed about the poverty – so I looked at that for a start. And then I read around the etiquette of the 1850s as well. Although the Thorntons don’t necessarily abide by those rules, I felt it was important to know as much about the period as possible.” [1]

Given that the novel deals with the beginnings of unionisation, he also researched the history of the early socialists. “I studied the union movement. It was very important. What we take for granted now was just being born then.” [7]

But above all, there was Gaskell’s novel. “Primarily it’s the novel that is the point of reference.” [1]

The character of John Thornton

“[Elizabeth Gaskell], for me, is probably the most exciting of the Victorian novelists. Unlike others, she manages to get inside the male mind. The male is usually only a fantasy figure. The idea that this male mind was written by a female writer was brilliant." [13]
“He is courageous. He has suffered great tragedy in his life and kept his family together. He has this reputation that precedes him, based on his expectations from his workers, and I think that's quite an exciting dynamic to start with."But during the course of the story his layers get peeled back and he reveals somebody else inside who is actually quite sensitive and lonely. He needs a lot and he finds it through Margaret.

"That dichotomy between the powerful, realistic  entrepreneur and this kind of vulnerable boy is really exciting to look at." [12]

"During the course of the story, he is faced with exactly the same prospect [as his father] — of losing everything again. But it's a catharsis for him. He realizes the only thing that matters is his family, his relationship with his mother and his love for Margaret, which he believes will never happen.

"He goes from being a powerful entrepreneur, who must be practical in order to succeed, to someone who is prepared to shed all of that for love. It's an amazing scene for a man of that time. It's not about Victorian manners. It's very now." [13]

The character of Thornton has been compared with that of Jane Austen’s Mr Darcy. Richard Armitage saw some similarities, but also differences. “With Thornton, he's fighting for survival. He's clinging onto his empire, so there's a bit more desperation. There is a real survival instinct with his aggression.” [4]
Thornton’s relationship with Margaret is at the heart of the novel and the drama.

"[Margaret’s] breeding and her mental attitude are at odds with her actual financial means, while John doesn't have the intellectual means but has the financial means. Each has something the other wants.

"I also think part of the attraction has to do with the antagonism of their relationship. She challenges him. No one has ever done that to him apart from his mother, and he and his mother have a strong working relationship.

"Most of the women presented to him are silent and very conformist, but Margaret is different. There's a very fine element of his mother he sees in her. It's not necessarily an attraction but something he thrives on." [13]
But writer Sandy Welch saw a problem with the way their relationship was written in the novel. She said, “The only problem dramatically is that all the prejudice comes from Margaret's side. Mr. Thornton likes her almost from the start. One of the only liberties I've taken is to even that up a bit. When she first sees Mr. Thornton, it will be inside his cotton mill, where he appears in quite a brutal and dangerous light.” [5]

She was referring to the scene in which Thornton is seen beating and kicking a worker he has caught smoking in his mill. This scene was not in the novel, and its inclusion in the adaptation was controversial.

“That was an addition to the book as we needed an instant impact. When you understand why he's done it, you're torn between hating him and wanting them [Thornton and Margaret] to get together,” said Richard Armitage. [4]

One of the adjectives often used about his portrayal of Thornton is ‘smouldering’. He joked about this when asked what the secret of a good smoulder was. “A pint of petrol and a match. Seriously, you look at the person, think of them in the most desirable way you can and then suppress the desire to do anything about it. There are many ways to smoulder. You can smoulder with your back.” [6]
See page 2 at the link above...
Example of the Richard Armitage global fanbase -- here's a birthday greeting from Russia with love..
               The train station scene as written in the North and South script:
[Not so sure, Margaret looks toward Henry who is still sitting in the train watching them. John and Margaret sit down.]
Margaret:   I have to get this right.  [Her glance keeps dropping from his.]  It's a business proposition. [swallowing and continuing swiftly]  I have some fifteen thousand pounds.  'Tis lying in the bank at present, earning very little interest.  [a nervous glimpse up to see him smiling indulgently as he listens and looks intently back]  Now, my financial advisers tell me that if you were to take this money and use it to run Marlborough Mills, you could give me a very much better rate of  .... interest.  [Slowing down she looks up again breathing quickly. He is smiling into her eyes, and she drops her eyes again to her lap at her hands holding the rose.]  So you see, it is only a business matter.  You'd not be obliged to me in any way.  It is you who would be doing ... [John's arm moves and he grasps Margaret's hand in her lap.] the service.   [Her voice fades off and she caresses John's hand.  Suddenly she lifts it to her mouth to kiss it fervently.]
[John is visibly moved.  He slowly puts his other hand to her face, gently persuading Margaret to raise her eyes to his.  Slowly, tenderly, he begins to kiss her, softly at first.  Then more firmly he holds her face to his.  Henry looks on from the train.]
Conductor:   London train about to depart.  London train is about to depart.
[John and Margaret draw apart looking searchingly into each other's eyes.  Margaret looks troubled.  A whistle sounds as Margaret abruptly stands and walks quickly to her train.  John gets up more slowly, watching her go with a resigned sigh and a wrinkled brow before he turns dejectedly away.]
Margaret:   Henry, I...
Henry:   [Standing at the compartment door, he hands Margaret her bag.]  Goodbye, Margaret.
[Margaret takes her luggage, exchanging a long look with Henry. He looks grim, shuts the door and sits back down.]
[Margaret's reflection appears in the glass of the compartment John Thornton is standing in front of.  He detects a movement behind and turns around.  Seeing Margaret he smiles warmly at her.]
John:   You're coming home with me?  [Margaret answers with a glance. In a moment, Thornton followed her onto the train carrying her bag and shutting the coach door after himself.  The train pulls out of the station, it's whistle blowing.  Countryside passes by the windows, but Margaret and John only see each other.  Smiling softly they kiss, once, twice, and again, John's arm around Margaret.  Dropping her head shyly, she turns to look out the window again, just as we saw her at the beginning of this story.]  EXCERPT, Chapter 9..Mr Hale informs Margaret and her mother that Mr Thornton will be coming for tea:
'Oh, mamma, that shows you never saw Mr. Thornton. He looks like
a person who would enjoy battling with every adverse thing he
could meet with--enemies, winds, or circumstances. The more it
rains and blows, the more certain we are to have him. But I'll go
and help Dixon. I'm getting to be a famous clear-starcher. And he
won't want any amusement beyond talking to papa. Papa, I am
really longing to see the Pythias to your Damon. You know I never
saw him but once, and then we were so puzzled to know what to say
to each other that we did not get on particularly well.'
'I don't know that you would ever like him, or think him
agreeable, Margaret. He is not a lady's man.'
Margaret wreathed her throat in a scornful curve.
'I don't particularly admire ladies' men, papa. But Mr. Thornton
comes here as your friend--as one who has appreciated you'--
'The only person in Milton,' said Mrs. Hale.
'So we will give him a welcome, and some cocoa-nut cakes. Dixon
will be flattered if we ask her to make some; and I will
undertake to iron your caps, mamma.'

Lego Teaser Trailer - 

August 20, 2013

Richard Armitage: Guy of Gisborne Revisited + Best 100 Websites for Women(see link)

100 Best Websites for Women:
Robin Hood series starts on US tv channel INSP on Sept 22 with a marathon from 6pm to 2am. Then it airs every Sunday evening at 7pm.  The show previous to Robin Hood will be another charming Brit series Lark Rise to Candleford..

Robin Hood series 1 : Playing Guy of Gisborne (2)

Richard Armitage as Guy of Gisbourne in Robin HoodPreparation

Richard Armitage’s preparation for the role started with reading. “When I found out that I was going to be playing Guy of Gisborne, I looked back through as many of the old stories as possible of the original Robin Hood texts, of which there are quite a few,” he said. “But I didn’t want to be influenced too much by other material so that was really it – just those stories.” [5]

In a diary he kept on-set, extracts from which were published in the Sunday Telegraph, series writer Dominic Minghella said, “One of our great casting coups is Richard Armitage (who plays Sir Guy of Gisborne, the Sheriff's right-hand man), a modest man of sharp intellect and smouldering good looks.

”Today, he knocks on my door with a pencil and pad. Can he ask me some questions about his character? I tell him, truthfully, that I can't believe he is here - an actor of his talent, sitting on my sofa, talking to me about playing this part. I feel so lucky. Suddenly, I stop myself - do I destroy what little (gamma-male) authority I have by being so candid? I glance at him. My concerns are unfounded. He is blushing. A man of his talent. I remind myself that the only folk more insecure than writers are actors.” [6]

Richard Armitage as Guy of Gisborne in Robin HoodBut there were conflicts in the character that the actor had to resolve.

"It's been very interesting playing moments where he is doing the most awful slaughter and then in the next moment he is declaring how much he loves this young girl. It was quite a challenge to work out what kind of guy could separate himself like that." [4] 

Richard Armitage preparing for Robin HoodThe series was filmed near Budapest in Hungary, a shoot lasting 6 months. At the beginning, the actors had to learn to fight and ride.

"We all went over for two weeks before filming started to what they termed the Hood Academy, where we did riding in the morning and then we went to the studio and did fighting, sword fighting, and archery in the afternoon. You've got grown men from 20 to 40 all in a room being 10 years old again and loving it. When guest artists come out to work on all the different episodes, you can see in their eyes that they're about to have the greatest adventure of their lives." [4]

Playing the role

“It’s a different type of character, it’s quite a dark character. I’ve never really done anything which is so active, there’s loads of riding, fighting and that’s unusual on such a long period of time. That’s a good challenge.” [1]

Richard Armitage as Guy of GisborneAt times it was exhausting. “The one thing that stands out in my memory was that big fight sequence in the forest [between Robin and Gisborne] because it went on for so long. We were there from nine in the morning to eight at night over the course of a week. I felt like I was constantly in that forest - filthy, sweating, bitten from mosquitoes that were everywhere - that really finished me off. But it was worth it because the final cut-together sequence looks great.”[7]

And his horse, Richie, sometimes caused problems. “As soon as you point a horse towards open land when it has been standing around all day, you can guarantee that it will want to run in that direction. So when they said 'Action!' – and to be honest the horses understand 'Action!' – they go whether you kick them or not ... and my horse bolted. It wanted to run for its life and I was on the back of it. Everyone was shouting at me to stop, which made me laugh because I thought I actually really do want to stop and if I had any control over this horse I would be stopping it!” [4]

Gisborne could have been simply a one-dimensional pantomime villain who is unbelievably evil. But he works on-screen as a believable and complex character. The key is probably the fact that Richard Armitage believed in him.

Richard Armitage as Sir Guy of Gisborne“I’ve become quite protective of my 'baddie' now. You have to fall in love with him a bit, you have to condone what he does. You have to find reasons for what he does even though they’re terrible things.” [3]

“In my head Gisborne is his own hero; what he is fighting for he completely believes in, I've convinced myself!” [4]

He enjoyed the chance to play such an evil character. “Playing the baddie is great fun. In civilised society, you have to temper your nasty dark side, but you get to unleash all those nasties that are lurking around.” [2]

In fact, both Richard Armitage and Keith Allen clearly relished playing the villains. Many critics and viewers have thought they were the most successful characters in the show. But Richard Armitage was aware of the need to be careful how they played these men.

“When you see something which is written down in quite a comic and slapstick way, it is easy to dream of it in a slightly cartoon way. But it’s our job to pull it back, make it as dark as possible, and let the comedy work for itself. There is a fine line between making the Sheriff and Gisborne comic in their evilness because it is very funny – what they do and the way they do it. If the comedy is there it will take care of itself, you don’t need to play the comedy. Actually, if you do the opposite, if you play it quite straight, the comedy seems to leap out of its own accord. So I tend to leave it alone. [2]

In spite of the comic possibilities of such an evil character and the fact that he is sometimes made to look foolish by the Sheriff or Marian, Gisborne is a dark and powerful presence in the series.

“I’m really hoping that when people sit and watch this, when Gisborne is trying to woo Marian they absolutely squirm in their seats and their skin is crawling. That was my main aim with this character, to make people absolutely despise him,” said Richard Armitage. [3]

We certainly do despise him. And yet there are layers to this man that occasionally evoke sympathy as well. His desperate striving for status and his love for Marian make him vulnerable - he is likely to remain thwarted on both counts, and it's possible to feel some pity for him for that. But not much.

Some viewers simply enjoy the adventure though. “I went to the Children’s BAFTAs to present an award and these three lads, aged about 14, came up to me. One said ‘Can we give you a hug? We love Robin Hood, we watch it every week.’ He was so excited. That really moved me and made my year.” [8]

[1] Interview with Richard Armitage on Robin Hood (Volume 2) DVD
[2] Interview on Robin Hood audiobook, "Will You Tolerate This?"
[3] Interview with Richard Armitage on BBC Robin Hood website, October 2006
[4] BBC Press release, Robin Hood, week 42, 2006. (A copy of the press release can be seen at 'the uk tv guide'blog.)
[5] Interview on Robin Hood audiobook, "Sheriff got your Tongue?"
[6] Sunday Telegraph, 1st October 2006
[7] Interview on Robin Hood audiobook, "Who Shot the Sheriff?"
[8] Sunday Mercury, 17th December 2006.

August 12, 2013

Richard Armitage:Designing Thorin Comments(see link) + New Voiceover(comes with usual warning from me;) not switch accounts without giving it some thought + Black Sky or Into The Storm? Excerpt from Interview With Writer John Swetnam + Dinner + The White Queen:Costume Designers,Reviews,etc + Pres-season Review for Reign Series

Another Batman mention:
Designing Thorin: warf-design-and-the-sublime-skill-of-john-howe/ 
QUOTE: "Thorin didn’t come easy. Because he’s a really important character, we played around with a lot of different options."  

The particular velvety growl you seek can be heard in last few seconds. "To follow is to love" Really? ;D
First of all, thank you to the website for following pic.  Second, had a great chuckle upon seeing this behind the scenes Spooks 9 photo for the first time today. Hardiest chuckle was to see my favorite Game of Thrones character Sir Jorah(Iain Glen) patiently waiting in the background to be momentarily stabbed in the leg by Lucas North, and also to notice USMC(United States Marine Corps) on a crew members tshirt. Or might it be an abbreviation for UK Spooks Muncipal Crewmember?;)..although the color of the tshirt is khaki which would be appropriate for the US Marines. Maybe the tshirt wearer was on-set security? He does look very focused on surroundings. The photo.. 

Interview with Into The Storm(fka:Black Sky) writer John Swetnam:EXCERPT:
How did your childhood as an “air force kid” influence you?
I moved around every two or three years and lived all around the world. I was born in South Carolina and lived in Japan, England, Korea and all over the states, Northern Maine, Southern Maine, Tennessee, Florida and Southern California. I think moving every two or three year is why I like movies so much.
Talk  about your film, “Into the Storm” (formerly known as Black Sky) and where did you get that idea from? And, what made you decide to write about the weather?
Because of Evidence, Todd Garner, a big time producer who has produced 100’s of movies, emailed my agent saying he had read and liked some of the found footage I had done. It was a three word email and it said, “Inspirational, tornado and POV.” I had lived in Nashville and my friends lost everything in a tornado and as soon as I saw those three words, I knew exactly how to tell this story in a very different way.That one’s already done, we’ve just screened it last weekend and it will be probably be coming out next year. It’s a studio picture from New Line Cinema/Warner Brothers. It will be my first, big, big, big movie. Have you seen Twister? It’s like Twister, but with a fresh twist. When I saw it with the audience, it was unbelievable and so big and the special effects are absolutely amazing. The director used to work for James Cameron for 20 years and he’s this genius of framing and effects and I was just blown away. That will be the big one and then..The thing with directing is that even though I never wanted to be a director, I do want to direct, because I’ve gotten to work with some really great directors and I learned so much from Olatunde and Stephen Quale from Into the Storm (fka Black Sky)..
New Series REIGN --EXCERPT:  THE FIRST IMPRESSION | Well knock me over with a feather. Upon watching the cutdown for this unlikely CW offering at the Upfronts, I instantly penciled it in for a short run. I perhaps didn’t “get it,” or, more likely, my eyes had glazed over from the trailers for the network’s myriad new sci-fi shows. But in viewing this pilot in full, Reign just might emerge a sleeper hit (by CW standards). It could be that its stark differences (era, setting) from Vampire Diaries, Arrow, Hart of Dixie and the like will make it “pop,” or that its super-sudsy themes (love! lust! betrayal! infidelity! voyeurism! self-pleasure! wait, what?) will reel in the abandoned Gossip Girl crowd. (For good measure, there is a whiff of supernatural hullabaloo thrown in.) The cast is uniformly fine — Kane gives Mary a root-for quality, but Regbo reads a bit ripe — with everyone amusingly doing some variation on a British-y accent that is neither French nor Scottish. C’est la vie!
Dracula (starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers) aka Henry VIII;) is a forthcoming British-American limited series television drama that is expected to air on NBC and Sky Living  produced by Carnival FilmsDracula will premiere on October 25, 2013, and will air on Fridays 10/9c
Costume Desginers for White Queen:
Really wish all those who insist on acting like primadonnas - by negatively criticizing tiny inaccuracies such as rainpipes and zippers  - would remember it's very easy to be a naysayer.  It's difficult enough to find well done historic sagas without having to listen to nonsensical picayunishness about trifles, when a good one has actually been produced. 
Enjoying the beautifully designed sets for new series The White Queen..
Richard III and Anne Neville - tune in Sat for ep 2, Starz,The White Queen..

Denver Post Review:
Access Hollywood:
NY Times says everyones' faces are too scrubbed and teeth too straight. That's NYC for you - most Americans don't really consider it representative of them -- it's actually almost a world apart from the rest of the USA.  Therefore, we expect them to have polar opposite opinions, and they always live up to the expectation.
From Wikipedia:  Shooting locations for The White Queen:
The White Queen was filmed on location in Belgium, where several landmarks in Bruges andGhent represent locations in London and elsewhere:[20]