I was going to post my contribution to the Mystery Blogger Award today, but have decided that I must record my thoughts on yesterday’s podcast by Christopher Maynard of Following Films with Richard Armitage. I am going to lean far out of the metaphorical window here and say that it was a near-perfect interview. And what a surprise, too, sprung on us some time yesterday afternoon (GMT) by way of a call for questions.
And the resulting podcast was an even bigger surprise. Not only because it actually arrived when it said it would (the same night
unlike some other sites who keep tapping us for questions and likes and then never deliver the goods…), but because it turned out to be a *proper* interview, not just a mini Q&A but a veritable 41 minutes long! For posterity – here it is linked below. I suggest you keep these visuals in sight when listening to it.
So why is this an outstanding interview? Because it is a calm, long conversation rather than a short sensational quiz. Interviewer Chris Maynard gives Armitage space to expand his thoughts – not just to get the usual information about the release date of his latest work across, but to actually talk about his process and experience on Sleepwalker. The interviewer asks considered questions that cannot just be answered with a simple yes/no or a one-sentence anecdote, but demand careful answers. The whole interview feels less like a Hollywood entertainment show between a celebrity reporter and a movie star, but much more like an in-depth conversation between two interested equals. And as such, Maynard manages to draw out so much more from Armitage than most promo interviews that stay at the surface because they are after the funny anecdotes and need short sound-bites.
Armitage, in turn, is a true pleasure to listen to. It’s not just his beautiful diction, the way he expresses his thoughts in supple, measured sentences – but also the passion when he’s touching on issues that excite him. I even like the little pauses he makes – a sign of an active mind searching for the right word and the right thought to answer a question in a careful, deliberate way, considering language very carefully.
It’s actually the glimpse of the workings of this actor’s mind – his approach to details of his work, the insights into his work on set, the context he puts his work in, both in terms of practical anchoring of a character’s actions, as well as their supposed subconscious. From my notes I can see that I particularly was struck by his audience awareness. And by that I don’t mean that he was aware of who was likely to be listening to the podcast (and for whom he was thus adjusting his statements) but his general awareness of the audience who will perceive his work. For instance, when talking about Sleepwalker, he touches upon the risk the filmmaker is taking by leaving the film somewhat ambiguous – and Armitage shows his audience awareness by conceding that ambiguity is tricky for an audience. Or around the 11:00 minute mark, Armitage uses the Lucas North/John Bateman dichotomy as an example for the importance of taking the audience seriously. These little tidbits resonate with me because they exactly touch on things that *I* struggled with in the respective film/show. Whether Armitage agrees with my POV or supports the filmmakers’ decisions is not really the point – for *me* the point is that he is *aware* of audience reactions.
Other bits that resonated with me:
- Armitage on himself: “not a performer or a showman”, “would rather like to be observed than push something to the audience” – as in ‘quietly doing his job’ rather than ‘pointedly pretending to be someone’? Or ‘being a character’ rather than ‘pretending to be a character’? ‘Method acting’?
- The gratification that is in the work: “the riches are not financial but artistic”
- And total bonus: His laugh at 31:50
Someone make a ringtone out of that, please
- Oh, and Armitage inadvertently answering my question re. the playlist for Scott White. Interesting answers – he mentions Max Richter and Mica Levi, both producing suitably “atmospheric” music for a film that is dealing with the subconscious. Have a listen to these two samples of their work – they both sound to me as if they could’ve been on Armitage’s playlist (although he doesn’t mention the exact pieces)
Guyltyguilty plus: Interviewer Christopher Maynard even acknowledged the input from fans who submitted questions right at the end of the podcast. That’s a definite first. Thank you for that!
So, a really nice interview – I really liked what I heard. Not least because it will provide more fodder for my imaginary version of the Armitage, considered actor, assured talker. Over and out.