Richard – Heartthrobs Are Admired for Their Talent, Too!

Frustrating shopping experience aside – I have just been to the shop to pick up The Sunday Times, only to find that the Irish edition of that London newspaper omits the article about Richard Armitage – it has been very nice to finally read a longer article about the man again, thanks to the internet. I’m including the link to the (as yet) paywalled article HERE, as it will possibly become accessible without fee at a later stage.

So, are we back to Hamburg?

Older fans will recognise the reference. It harks back to a message way back from 2006, where Richard recommends the song to his fans. (Highlighted line in screenshot below.)

So, the heartthrob adage doesn’t sit well with Richard. We kind of knew that; it’s not the first time he has mentioned it. But I don’t quite see how he is “shedding” or has shed that image now. Has Thorin really been the pinnacle of heartthrob-ness, just because it was a major Hollywood film? I don’t think so. Any leading role puts him back in the spotlight, and he has had plenty of roles in the last six years that placed him on top billing or at least with emphasised guest role status. And with playing (heroic) characters on small and big screen comes exposure, almost by default. It is human nature to admire those who possess extraordinary talent, a brilliant mind, spotless manners or even a particularly attractive left-face smirk. And there is little you can do to deflect such admiration. Unless you become a hermit and limit all contact with the outside world.

“There is this thing of, ‘Is he just totty?’ Because the industry will sometimes write you off as a serious actor if they think that. I have always been conscious of that and fought against it, because I don’t really see myself like that at all.”

Aside from feeling a little bit defensive here as a fan myself, who writes fluffy little pieces extolling Richard’s wavy mane, and who bursts into expletives over tight shirts, I can say from the bottom of my soul that it actually takes more than follicle faultlessness and physical perfection to set my heart aflutter. It would be a lie if I said that my favourite actor’s looks didn’t matter. Initially, they were what caught my eye. But a split second later it was his convincing performance of the character he was playing, that drew me in, made me want to know more, and finally became the foundation for my general admiration. Over time, the appreciation and admiration became focussed on the capabilities and talents, and also extended to the way he conducted himself in public encounters with press and fans. We all know that superficial beauty does not hold attention for very long, not least because outward appearances change as we age. But talent and decency are timeless. If he makes my heart throb, then he does so with more than just his looks. Because heartthrobs can be admired for other talents, too! 

Of course, I can understand his resistance to being adored. Apart from the professional reason he gave himself in the quote above, there is a psychological dimension to the dilemma. Adoration smacks of worship and veneration. While it is nice to be complimented for what we do or to have our accomplishments praised, being put on a pedestal also raises expectations. Once praised as a great actor/sexy man/profound communicator, you need to live up to those assumptions. It puts on the pressure to continually raise the bar – or to even reconcile your own self-critical sense of yourself with the external projections of others. And rather than make you feel loved and appreciated, it can make you feel like a fraud. Forbidding all adoration might seem the easiest way out. I don’t take that as the main message from the interview, though, because I am not just a *seeing* fan, but also a *thinking* fan. He is the “OoA” = Object of Admiration, as in “worthy of respect”. But with critical evaluation of the imperfection that makes the potential pedestal object to a fallible human being.

My favourite bit from the interview is this, though:

Now I understand that people aren’t here to see their favourite actor doing something, showing off. That isn’t the point of it. The point is, I am there to help them feel something, so it’s all about them, not me. That makes it so much easier.”

Good for Richard to have come to this conclusion. Even if some of it is factually wrong. I, a fan, *am* going to UV to see my favourite actor do something. Not showing off, by the way, but simply doing the work he does so well, putting his talent in the service of a playwright and director. But I book those tickets for the performance because I *know* that I will not only observe *him* but also the ensemble he is part of, because the play is not just one character. I will see the work of other great actors, of the playwright and the director, the stage/light/sound designer, and everyone else who is involved in staging the play. Together they will play a story in front of my eyes, that I will inadvertently connect and react to, with agreement, sadness, laughter, dislike or disbelief. He is right – the theatre makes us feel something, and ultimately makes us think. The actors are the spanners that loosen the cogs in our brains. And hey, I don’t really think that it is that wrong if the initial motivation to book a theatre ticket, is the opportunity for a fan to see their favourite actor strut his stuff. Have a little more confidence in the talent for intelligence in your fans, Richard 😉. We are not just hearts that throb, but we are also brains that work.

See, Richard, this is the case in point – if I thought you were just a heartthrob, I wouldn’t bother reacting to what you are saying! Besides, I really, really dislike your beard. 😉

134 thoughts on “Richard – Heartthrobs Are Admired for Their Talent, Too!

  1. I think a lot of people in the film industry try to pigeonhole actors into what is believed to be their marketability- if you’re hot you can have these roles, if you’re funny you can have those roles, etc. He has had a variety of roles but maybe some of the less heroic ones he and his people have had to fight for them more than the “totty” ones or maybe the roles he’s offered or suggested to audition for are more in the “totty” category.

    Equally, I feel that good-looking people should try to come to terms with being good-looking and realise there is a lot of privilege that comes with that and that so often it’s a factor of how they’ve got to where they are.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting thought, Laura, that he might have had to fight for some of his roles due to a perception that he was “too hot”. (I personally can’t believe that – because I think his talent always shines through in everything he has done so far. But well, I am biased.)
      I agree that I often find it rather galling when good-looking people present their beauty as a burden. Frankly, my experience in life (as someone who is *not* good-looking) leads me to believe that beauty *helps* rather than hinders. However, it’s all about the individual perception… His own attitude is a bit contradictory, I feel. On the one hand he complains about being seen as a heartthrob, on the other he disputes that he is a heartthrob at all… Conflicting messages.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Dear Richard, I watch thing you’re in NOT because you’re a heart throb or because I’m maybe interested in the material.

    I watch because I want to see what your genius can do to the role that will make me interested. Really.

    Thanks for this, Guylty. Spot on!

    Liked by 1 person

      • Y’know, pretty faces are just pretty faces. Skin deep. I want what’s in the soul, the heart, the brain. Big difference. Sexy men can be complete shits. But an intelligent, talented, compassionate man can make meh sooooo much more!

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        • Soul, heart, brain count. I couldn’t agree more. I am generally suspicious of handsome men in RL. Imaginary and handsome movie boyfriends are a safer bet – but only when they come with a brain. RA ticks the boxes.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Bravo!! What a wonderful post. I agree completely. To quote myself “his looks are not the only thing I like about him. Not at all. Trust me when I say that I wouldn’t cross the street for just a pretty face, let alone international waters.” That remains true. I admire so much more about him than his looks. But that can be true while this is also true: I am going to London to see my favorite actor live. Of course I am. And that’s not a bad thing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Those two things are not mutually exclusive – enjoying someone’s look doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy someone’s other accomplishments. Maybe the looks are just a bonus. But even in my RL I have to say that I wouldn’t have chosen my partner if I hadn’t been somehow attracted to him *beyond* his many inner qualities.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Well said! 👏👏👏 🎖 I think in a way it’s a matter of trust – we’re willing to go along with him to places we may not have considered otherwise, and know it will be worth our while.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Well said, Guylty! I think that for some reason he still questions his own worth for reasons unknown to us, maybe it’s the bullying at school and his father’s unsupportive manner when he decided to make a career in acting (as he has said). He is very talented actor and has the looks and is one of the most genuinely kind people in movie business imo and that is why I adore him.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You’ve mentioned exactly the things that I appreciate about him as well. Talent. Decency. Easy on the eye. In that order.
      I trust that he knows his own worth – but is just a tad too modest for his own good…

      Liked by 1 person

      • I just saw another interview (The Telegraph) and in it he said he’s in a relationship with a man. I find it very interesting he’s decided to come out now but I’m very happy for him.

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        • Otoh they might also be an older lady since the interviewer asked about RA having a family himself and he answered by saying that they’d need a surrogate or use adoption. Anyways, happy news.

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              • It’s still a difficult subject for many to swallow, I guess. I just hope and pray that my children will never ever feel like that about me. I want them to live their lives openly and fully, without thinking I can’t accept their choices.

                Liked by 1 person

                • I spoke to a friend the other day who has a 4-yo son. Her m-i-l made a remark (I forget the context) about little N. one day bringing home a girl and she looked her dead in the eye and said „“or a boy“ and I thought “LEGEND!“

                  I think that is the way to go. Just treat it as normal and hopefully that will stick.

                  Liked by 1 person

                • I don’t excuse it, but so much of this is generational. My parents have both been dead for several years. My father was still alive when one of my nieces’ wedding invitation came. Unfortunately, that particular day he was more with it than usual. When he saw that she was to be married by the water, at a resort, instead of inside of a Catholic church, he said he wasn’t going. My sister drove an hour to our house to tell him that she would rather it was in church, but she already lost one daughter (One had died in a car crash at 17), and didn’t intend to lose another. A few minutes later he conceded. By the day of that wedding he had no idea that a Lutheran minister (The groom’s father was a Lutheran minister) married them with no mass. A couple of months ago her sister was married at another resort by a friend who is a Justice of the Peace. My sister felt the same way, it’s not her choice what 30ish yr old adults decide is right for their lives. This time no grandparents were still here to contest. I tend to think had my mother still been alive that she would have been more accepting, but I don’t really know. I do know that even though we went to Catholic grammar school, and high school, and were able to raised going to church every Sunday, my sisters and I choose the people over the differences. Whether it’s sexuality, race, or religion we are just accepting of the people we love, regardless of what they are. It’s an entirely different world not only than it was 50 or 90 years, but what is was 5 or 10 years ago.

                  Liked by 1 person

        • That was a bit of a bombshell, right? But yes, it is great to see he has taken steps to living his life unguardedly. I can only applaud that. Private happiness always translate into better work, I believe.

          Liked by 1 person

        • Not exactly. He said his relationship wouldn’t make regular means possible. There is a chance it’s a woman who is beyond childbearing age, or has a medical issue that would prevent it. He never actually said it was a man. Really, as long as he’s happy.

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  6. Ode to Throbbing Hearts

    His awesome hair,
    His blue-eyed stare,
    Or velvet voice,
    Might be a choice,
    Some ladies like the best.
    Peaches so sweet,
    It’s always a treat.
    To catch a lovely glimpse.
    He seems so gallant,
    And full of talent,
    Not just a pretty face.
    Compared to RA,
    What can I say?
    Mr. Di Caprio,
    Is only so so.

    Kathy Jones

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Der Mann hat vollkommen recht. Niemals nicht würde ich ein Theaterstück wegen eines bestimmten Schauspielers besuchen. Ich würde mir auch nie deswegen einen Film anschauen. Und selbstverständlich würde auch Richard nie aus solch profanem Grund ein Stück oder einen Film anschauen.

    Ironie aus. Ich gehe tatsächlich nur in Onkel Vanya, um meinen Lieblingsschauspieler zu sehen. Bei dem, was er am besten kann. Und höchstwahrscheinlich gibt es Menschen, die nur wegen Toby Jones oder einem der anderen Darsteller hingehen. Aber: ich habe, nach allem, was ich bisher von ihm gesehen habe, hohe Ansprüche an seine Schauspielkunst und erwarte daher, dass ich (nachdem ich mich wieder einigermaßen davon erholt habe, ihn zum ersten Mal nur ein paar Meter entfernt live und in Farbe zu sehen) auf der Bühne nach wenigen Minuten nicht Richard Armitage sehe, sondern Doktor Astrov.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ja, da lügt er sich ein bisschen in die Tasche, wenn er tatsächlich glaubt, dass da keiner wegen ihm hingeht. Freue ich mich auf Peter Wight und Ciarán Hinds? Klar! Reise ich wegen denen nach London? Nein.

      Außerdem ist das nun auch ganz allein meine Sache, warum und wofür ich mein Geld ausgebe. Ob ihm das jetzt gefällt oder nicht. 😉

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    • Hahaha, fast auf die falsche Fährte gelenkt. Aber es ist genau so wie du in deiner Ironie andeutest – wegen eines bestimmten Schauspielers/in einen Film anzuschauen, ist von der Filmindustrie so gewollt. Ansonsten würden sie wohl kaum die Namen ihrer Hauptdarsteller dick und fett auf den Postern prangen lassen. Ich gehe da hin, weil ich Richard sehen will. Und weil ich damit übrigens ja auch dazu beitrage, dass Richard weiterhin so schöne Rollen bekommt. Man stelle sich mal vor, seine Fans würden jetzt ihm zuliebe *nicht* mehr im Internet, an der Kinokasse, bei Premieren seinetwegen erscheinen. Glaube nicht, dass das wirklich besser wäre.

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      • Kassenstreik für Richard 😂? Nee, lass mal, soweit geht die Liebe dann doch nicht. Wahrscheinlich würde er auch ziemlich dumm gucken, wenn gar keiner wegen ihm da wär.

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        • Denk ich mir auch manchmal… Das Ganze hat – mit Verlaub – schon auch so ein bisschen einen Ruch von “Jammern auf hohem Niveau”. Aber vielleicht verstehe ich es auch einfach nicht, weil ich mir wirklich schlimmeres vorstellen kann, als für gutaussehend gehalten zu werden.

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          • Na ja, ich kann da nicht mitreden, aber das muss wohl ein wirklich schlimmes Schicksal sein…
            Im Ernst, wahrscheinlich will man als ernsthafter Künstler ausschließlich für sein Spiel bewundert werden, was ich auch nachvollziehen kann. Aber wie du irgendwo weiter oben geschrieben ist es irgendwie widersprüchlich, dass er einerseits meint, er sieht nicht gut aus, andererseits aber nicht aufgrund seines Aussehens bewundert werden will.

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            • Ich denke, Richards Erfolg mit so unterschiedlichen Rollen spricht da auch für sich selbst. Das sind beileibe nicht alles nur happy totty-Rollen gewesen. Im Gegenteil. Mag ja sein, dass das an seinem eigenen Widerstand gegen solche Rolle liegt, aber aus meiner Perspektive muss er sich da keine Sorgen machen.

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    • Thanks Olga. I admit, I have a strong opinion on all this, both in favour of fans admiring him *and* in favour of RA accepting that there is nothing wrong with fans who admire him…

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  8. Sometimes he is his own worse enemy, he speaks about talking himself into a very dark place, he is an ‘ over thinker’ I wish his mum was around to give him a good shake.
    Whoever caused this lack of confidence has a lot to answer for, IMO

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have the same impression – the ‘corrective’ provided by a loving mother, is now missing. I hope he doesn’t visit that dark place too often.
      And yes, such a pity that early criticism or bullying or whatever has left such a big scar… I guess a lot of us can sympathise with that.

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  9. Thinking again, perhaps we get annoyed because we have been aware of some of his thoughts for a long time but perhaps he goes into an interview as though he is speaking to someone for the first time. He gives a nod to his loyal fans but generally he is introducing himself to strangers.

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  10. If he really thinks that then why does he accept to strip himself on the screen? Definitively is not innocent. Like Servetus, I came to the conclusion that his recurring speech remains only to elude the subject.

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      • Agree!
        But in general, I just wonder why he thinks that he might be mistaken as totty? There is only *one* role in his oeuvre where he was definitely cast as totty, and that was VoD. Other than that, I don’t find *anything* in his roles, where his looks were decisive for the character he played.

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        • He creates an image of a victim (reassuring for him) that he is not, relayed by a delusional speech whatsoever there is no balance to that argument.

          Liked by 1 person

          • I agree, he likes to portray himself as a bit of a victim judging by some of the interviews he’s given, and I notice, particularly when the interviewer is a woman. Somehow, I don’t think he would do this if the interviewer was a man. Just an observation.

            Liked by 1 person

        • Vielleicht haben die (weiblichen) Reaktionen auf North and South zu einem bleibenden Trauma geführt 😉.

          Ich kann dir nur zustimmen. Und was VoD angeht, ja, Dawn French wollte jemand gutaussehenden. Aber selbst in diesem Fall gilt ja: das Harry Kennedy so ein beliebter Charakter ist, hat nicht in erster Linie was mit seinem Aussehen zu tun, sondern weil er ein ganz normaler Mann ist.

          Davon abgesehen scheint es ja nicht so zu sein, dass ihm sein Aussehen völlig egal ist. Ich denke da nur an seine glattgebügelten Selfies (allerdings verbessern die Filter sein Aussehen nicht, aber das ist meine persönliche Meinung).

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        • Strikeback comes to my mind, I went to a special showing in London and he was definitely admired by the head of Sky, she spoke at the event and it was obvious!
          Of course he dumped the role because of The Hobbit, I wonder how he would have coped if that hadn’t happened, because the Strikeback show definitely changed with an increase in the amount of sex and violence. He admitted to be under pressure, as Sky were trusting him to lead a big show.

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          • Interesting insight, Yve. I confess I never watched SB beyond the 3 double episodes which RA fronted, so I have no idea about the level of sexiness in it 😉 But just in general, I can’t really see how he actively avoided taking his shirt off. He *did* play sexy scenes, too, which is just part and parcel of the job, I guess. Tbh, I think he was making a mountain out of a molehill. Or kind of getting his teeth into a topic in that interview, because he didn’t want to admit that he *knows* that looks play a part in his line of business…

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    • Yes, I agree, I think the topic is slightly redundant. Or has been discussed to death. Anyone who works in the business, must be aware of the influence of looks on a career.

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  11. Oh, yes, I totally agree! Well put. 🙂 And I really laughed at this ending: “if I thought you were just a heartthrob, I wouldn’t bother reacting to what you are saying! Besides, I really, really dislike your beard. 😉”

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    • Yup, have read it. It’s really nice to see he is opening up – or that he feels he doesn’t have to hold back in order to protect others. At almost 50, it’s high time. – It’s actually great to see this progression.

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  12. This was absolutely perfect Guylty, very eloquent. I think for the journalist to have lead with the topic carries a lot of blame. If their sexes were reversed, and a male asked a female that question in the age of #MeToo, reactions would be much more harsh. This is The Sunday Times, not a tabloid. She doesn’t understand us at all. You ladies have covered that with comparisons to your own husbands. It’s human nature to be attracted to a person, but I wouldn’t have stuck around for almost 13 years if it didn’t go deeper. I don’t think the rest of you would have either, some since 2002. I’m still here because of the detail he gives every role, the emotion in every slight facial gesture, or tightening of a muscle in his shoulders. I’m here because he has a mind that always wants to know more, about so many different subjects. Maybe because everyone he’s ever worked with, from biggest star, to unknown crew member all love him, all respect him, all laugh with him, because he treats every one of them as though they deserve respect. Or maybe it’s just because this man’s heart is so big, so caring about everyone from his Mum to the homeless guy he could just pass by, but doesn’t because he is physically unable to just pass him by. Maybe she should have asked any one of us why we stick around year after year.

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  13. Guylty, by any chance are you holding my last comment for approval before it’s posting? It began by complementing you on this post. All the others came right up.

    Also, I just want to let everyone with German replies know, I’m not ignoring you. I’m not getting their English translations on here for some reason. Sorry.

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  14. I agree very much with you, Guilty! I have read your posts before The Crucible.
    Myself I wouldn’t travel from Romania to see only a good looking man. In fact, the two cannot be separated: his beauty and his talent. Talent / intelligence shaped his figure. He is a masterpiece.
    It’s a pleasure to read your blog from time to time.

    Liked by 1 person

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