Podcast Transcript and a Few Comments

After my whining and moaning yesterday – good to get if off my chest, lads, and thank you for entertaining my whingeing – I’ve decided to give candidness a little try. As I said, I’ve been chewing over my approach to my self-censoring blogging, and what brought it to the fore this time was actually the Empire Podcast with Richard that dropped over the weekend. I had the impression that the conversation has been received enthusiastically by all fans. Yet I had a couple of less than enthusiastic responses to Richard’s statements. Before I get into that, though, here’s the transcript of the conversation. I transcribed it for the RAnet archives, but thought that it might be of interest for others here, too.

Chris Hewitt: Delighted to be joined on the Empire podcast in lockdown of course, because we are socially responsible, by Richard Armitage. How are you, sir?

Richard Armitage: I’m very good, I’m in a little fort. A little cupboard.

You are, I mean, this is… we’re recording visually, so I’ll describe. Richard is not lying. He is in… where… you are in your wardrobe at the moment? You’ve got blankets around you?

Well, I was in a wardrobe, but I have shifted locations now, so I’m actually in a hallway with a clothes rail and some packing blankets that I have stapled to the wall and cushions everywhere to sort of stop the reflection and a little plug-in LED lamp so that I can see [chuckles]. But it’s great, it’s working really well, I’m enjoying it.

And so this is your fort that you constructed yourself.

Yes, yes. It is.

So that you can continue to work whilst on lockdown.

Ya. With a little bit of help from my friends Shaun Dooley and Jacob Dudman who really helped me figure out what equipment to buy and sent me videos of how to set up Pro Tools [Music Recording Software] and so, yeah, lots of actors helping out, helping each other out to keep working.

This is amazing, because I have interviewed a number of actors over the last… I’ve also got Rosamund Pike on this week’s podcast as well, and I asked her exactly the same question, you know, as an actor you have this impulse to create, and that has been taken away from you. You can’t go on stage, you can’t shoot a film, you can’t shoot a TV show. So some people, some actors, I can imagine, might be lost. You have come up with this perfect remedy by recording this audio book, this collection of Chekhov short stories and creating your little fort, which is fantastic.

Yeah, it’s something that I have… I’ve been doing it for quite a while now. And I think, um, it’s always a little bit underestimated, you know, audio books are sort of seen as this thing that actors do in between jobs to fill in the time, but I’ve really enjoyed doing them over the years, and actually this was a perfect opportunity to really understand the technology and be able to work from home. And even when the studios go back, I’m probably going to continue working from home. I’m actually getting a slightly more permanent set-up of a studio because I love working in my own time, and being able to get up at… you know if I can’t sleep in the middle of the night, I can go into the studio and just keep reading. It’s been a real lifeline during lockdown, I have to say.

I guess that speaks to the idea … with this collection in particular… because you have said you have recorded audio books before, and you have been in it for a number of years now, but with this collection in particular, you seem to be the driving force. It was your choice to do this, your choice, your selection of the stories, as well.

Yeah, well, I was working on Uncle Vanya, directed by Ian Rickson, in the Westend, and during the preparation for the show I had read a lot of the Chekhov short stories, as a way to kind of understand the playwright. And during the run I suddenly thought, ‘this could be a really good idea to try and incorporate some stories for Audible in connection with the play’ because I was in a world sort of of Chekhov and I felt, it’s another way for people that maybe couldn’t get to see the play that they could kind of hear some of Chekhov’s writing. And then of course lockdown happened, and the theatre closed down. And it became even more important because we… we’re still looking for ways to try and rejuvenate that production. But in the meantime, I felt that it was a good idea to sort of push this through, almost as a little sweetener for people that had maybe had their ticket cancelled or something, just to try and, you know, keep the stories alive, and, you know, I love Chekhov and these stories are great. So, so it happened.

And a lot of these stories you were discovering for the first time as you were preparing for Uncle Vanya, is that correct?

Some of them yes, some of them I was familiar with, like “The Kiss”, for example, that was a, is a little favourite of mine. But certainly for Vanya I was… I had looked at “Ward 6”, which actually was Audible’s choice, and I completely understand why they chose it, but the idea of, eh, of a kind of insane asylum and a doctor and a patient, I just felt was not only relevant for the character I was playing but it feels relevant for the times we are living in.

Mh, yes, very much so.

I feel like we’re living, we’re living in an insane asylum where we have all become… We all thought we were the doctors, and suddenly we are the patients, we’re the in-patients. It’s strange, isn’t it?

We are, we are, we’re living in a short story.

Yeah.

Or actually a story that seems without end at the moment.

I know.

You never know.

Please say, please say the end.

[laughs heartily] Are you sa… ya, I usually don’t get that in an interview until at least ten minutes in, so… “Please stop this.”

Please stop.

‘Please release me from my misery.’ But I am fascinated by how you do this and your technique and your approach to audio books, which are becoming huge these days, as well. You see these as full-blown, well maybe not full-blown, but you see these as performances, this is a real chance for the actor in you to play a multitude of characters?

Yeah, it’s true, I never saw it that way, really. I just started reading and… I mean one of the first audio books I ever did was… was Robin Hood when I was working on Robin Hood and obviously I had access to all of the characters’ voices because I was working with them every day. And I thought, well, you know, why not just go there with every character. And it just evolved from there. It’s not really… it doesn’t quite really impact if you just read the words. You sort of have to get into the world of the story, and I … I’m not sure how any other actor approaches it but as the reader you become the director, so you set the scene, you get to play all the characters, so you can kind of direct the characters to how you would like them to sound and you are relying on the author to give you a good description of them but, em, it’s something I just really enjoy, and every time I read something, my imagination is triggered. So I just go into my own little world and perform the characters. And actually it has given rise to some interesting developments for me personally because I have optioned a couple of titles that I have read and I am developing them now as television shows.

So these are the Joy Ellis books, is that it?

The Joy Ellis books, and also The Taking of Annie Thorne by CJ Tudor. They’re both books that I was very passionate about and I have taken them into… into early production development, ya.

Oh fantastic, well, I wish you all the best on that.

Thank you.

And in terms of… in terms of that performance, in terms of playing multiple characters in the Chekhov short stories, or indeed in the novels that you have read as well, how do you do it? Because, full disclosure here, occasionally I will read a book out loud to my wife, just as a way of, you know, keeping ourselves entertained. And sometimes a few days will elapse between reading one chapter and then going back to it and I can never remember the voices I do, so they… they vary wildly. So, do you have a chart, is it instinct, how does it work, how does it, how do you keep track?

Ya, I… I… I suffer from the same thing especially if, for example, with Joy Ellis, there is seven books that I have read and sometimes there is a year or six months that passes between the reading. So I do rely on the producer to say ‘I can’t quite remember what that character sounded like’. And also I’ve sort of moved now from… you know, it… to me it’s not an exercise in sort of showing off how many different dialects I can do. It becomes much more kind of tonal or you know, pitch-oriented, so sometimes too many accents can just distract the listeners. So, the performances have become slightly more subtle over the years and that’s tricky as well, because… I mean, I usually put myself as a… as one of the voices, so the character that feels like the base narrator, I usually use a version of myself. Because you are usually narrating and commenting. You are also the author’s voice, so you kind of have to live in that area. But, you know, when you use Pro Tools, I make a note of the first reference for the character, so… Before I learnt how to do that I would make notes in a book to just give the quality of the voice and then the subtle accent that I chose. So yeah, you do, you do have to make notes.

Ah, that’s interesting. I thought maybe you had a tape, a series of tapes, you would just listen to one of them very, very quickly, get a refresher course, that’s how that guy sounds and then go for it.

Yeah, I mean, to be honest as well, I… I… You can usually remember because the books that you read are usually quite high quality. You can usually remember what voices you’ve done because… Especially if they are not too planned, if they come out of an instinctive response to the reading, that instinct comes back again when you… when you go back in there to read it. I mean, with the Charles Dickens… I mean, Dickens is a perfect example that… He… His descriptions of the characters are so succinct that, that the voices… I didn’t have to plan or think of any of the voices, they just came through reading his descriptions, and…

That’s interesting.

And that’s brilliant.

And so talk me through the… the Chekhov short stories that you have chosen. So there is six in this collection?

There are… six [chuckles] and I’m just pulling up my notes here because I will get this wrong.

Have you forgotten already, Richard, what’s going on?

There is always one that I miss out. So, “Ward 6”, there is “Ward 6”, “The Kiss”, “Betrothed”, “The Black Monk”, “Neighbours” – not to be confused with the Australian soap, and “The Student”. Em, all of which were chosen by myself and actually Ian Rickson who directed Chekhov, because I was putting together a short-list of our favourite stories and I just said to him, you know, ‘which stories do you like?’ Cause I thought it would be nice to have his opinion on it. So he, he gave me his list, and actually there were a couple that crossed over, so there were some that I didn’t know and some that I was very familiar with and so I’ve… that’s how I came upon the list.

And for philistines like myself who may only know things like Chekhov’s gun, the notion of Chekhov’s gun in terms of how it pertains to the cinema, and of course that Chekov was in Star Trek – different Chekov, but we can deal with that… Em, what is it about Chekhov that… that has connected with you in such a way?

I mean, I was introduced to him when I was at drama school. We did the Cherry Orchard in my third year and, em… You know, when you are studying acting, Chekhov comes up because really the root of our work that we do as modern actors came through… that school of theatre, which was Stanislavsky and Chekhov working together to create a new form of drama which was rooted in a kind of naturalism that wasn’t particularly plot-driven, that was more about characters and how they… how they existed. And it’s… the thing that I love about Chekhov is that he… He doesn’t intervene too much and manipulate the character to try and give you a message. He creates a character and then lets them live on the page, and he does the same thing in the stories. He’s observing life, rather than pushing an agenda or having a political stance. And actually he was criticised in his life because other writers felt that he was never, you know, pushing forward his views on anything which is sort of the whole point of him. And, you know, he was a doctor for half… most of his time and life, and in his spare time, his hobby, he was a writer. I mean, he famously descri… He said, you know… ‘Medicine is my wife, and writing is my mistress’, you know, that he saw it as a sort of flirtation with something. But, but… and actually his plays are fewer than his stories, but he gives us something… He was writing over 120 years ago but he gives us something, an insight into our own lives by looking backwards into a historic writer like Chekhov, but his observations of the human condition and the human spirit, is so… brilliant. They’re humorous and they’re tragic and they are uplifting. So, yeah, I’m deeply moved by them and I find myself laughing at them because they are sort of removed from modern society, yet totally relevant. – That’s a very long answer to a very short question. Sorry.

No, it’s good, it’s fine. You think… you covered everything. But, eh, when people here the word, the name Chekhov, I think sometimes they can feel that it is gonna be heavy-going, it’s gonna be heavy duty, it’s gonna be hard-hitting, quite bleak.

I think that’s… Well, that is the traditional receipt of what we think we know about Chekhov, and actually… the revelation of dip… of performing in Uncle Vanya was that the minute we put it in front of an audience, primarily because we had Toby Jones playing Uncle Vanya, so, you know, it was all ready, starting to, sort of, fizz, that it was an absolute undoubted comedy. From the minute the play started, and none of us quite realised what it… what the play was, and I think, em, finding that slightly cynical humour and, you know, enjoyment of human foible in Chekhov, is, I think that is the essence that I was looking for, rather than the misery. Because he is writing at a time which was, which was hard on his, his class, and, you know, he was upwardly mobile, coming from very little and so his observations of the bourgeoisie were, were quite acid. And he was criticised for that. And he was, you know he was highly critical of his own profession as a doctor, so, em… I don’t know, he… It feels like a human being writing about human beings, rather than an intellectual making some kind of, you know, clever statement about it. Well, I think that’s why it feels so fresh to me.

And, eh, on the complete opposite end of the scale, going from Chekhov to more… You mentioned Toby Jones, obviously you were both in the first Captain America film. But you were never on screen together.

[chuckles] We weren’t.

So did you share experiences in the, in rehearsals, in the dressing rooms?

We didn’t actually. I mean, I… it’s a shame we never met but that’s the nature of filming, is that you’re, you’re often kept apart. The thing that I was most [chuckles] em, surprised at, because the weird thing about doing theatre is… You know, after the play often go out of the stage door and you greet some fans if you are lucky, and you know, so I was having a lot of Thorin Oakenshield pictures thrust at me, and I realised Toby standing next to me, signing pictures of Dobby the house-el… house-elf. And I was like, ‘I didn’t… I didn’t realise that you’ve played this character’. And it suddenly made sense to me, and I rea… and I started to see the animation and see him and then you know on stage at night, I’d often look over and sort of see Dobby the house-elf playing Uncle Vanya, and it just… it just cracked me up, and you know, it it… He’s a great guy, he is a such a brilliant person to work with that, you know, just doesn’t take himself seriously. He’d take the work seriously but we had a great time there, eh, it was… It’s a shame we didn’t meet on Capt. America, but…

Ah you were too busy being bumped off very early on.

I was… too busy chewing on a cyanide tooth.

Precisely. That was at a time when it was still a huge gamble, it was still… I remember interviewing Chris Evans and he had these hobbit-like things on his feet and there was this feeling that it would… just no one knew if it was gonna turn out.

You mean that… that Capt… that… the Capt. America movie?

Yeah, and in fact everything has sprung from that since.

That’s true. I mean, I guess there was Ironman, which everyone was… I mean that wasn’t… that was that many years before Capt America, was it?

No, a couple of years…

I remember seeing the first Ironman film and thinking, ‘this is, this is something brand-new.”

Hm.

His performance. And I think everything sprung from that. But yeah, I mean, it was my first experience with really working on a lot of green screen and working on a huge, huge set with 200 cast and crew. You know, where the crew of like hundreds and hundreds of people, so then, when I kind of got to New Zealand and started working on The Hobbit, it didn’t freak me out. In a way that it probably would have done if I hadn’t been part of Capt America because that was a really good training ground for me but… gosh, can’t believe that it’s 10 years ago.

[laughs] So I feel old, do you feel old now, as a…

I feel very old, I think. 2021 I’m gonna be 50, and that I just can’t believe – or accept, actually. Completely deny that.

How was 40 for you? How was turning 40?

40 was good. I think I might have been in New Zealand, or going down there. But yeah, 40 was good. This decade for me has been great. I mean, I gotta say I don’t like 2020 very much, but…

No, it’s terrible.

It’s been a great time for me, I’ve gotta… If there are any actors out there, kind of up and coming, or, you know, trying to graduate this year, that have doubts, you know, it… Your 20s feel good but it can get better. So, I’d say my 40s have been creatively the best years of my life. You know, I’m actually starting to look forward to my 50s cause I feel like you can just get fat and go grey and be like, “I… it doesn’t matter now because I am 50”. You know, you can just… just… “go away and let me be 50”.

In my little, in my little cupboard here, recording…

Yeah.

Just eating…

Recording by myself.

Ya, eating donuts.

Absolutely.

But here’s the thing, Richard, you can skip 2020, I think we can officially strike 2020 from the record now, so technically speaking you won’t turn 50 until 2022, so you got another year.

That’s true. I’ve got, yeah, I’m gonna give myself another year. – It’s an interesting period, though, lockdown, you know, I think. It was almost a choice to make sure you deal with it well and, em, as a sort of semi-introverted slightly anti-social person anyway, the social distancing wasn’t that tricky for me and actually I have used the time as well as I could and you know, tried to stay off social media too much and be… kind of just be quiet for a while and you know, I’ve done a lot of work developing these stories and done a lot of reading, and it’s, it’s actually not been as bad as I thought it was gonna be. I’ve, I’ve learnt something about myself. Time, time to come out of hiding now, though, I think.

Precisely. And just a couple of last things before we’ll let you go, em. Talking about reflecting on your career and this idea that you had in your 20s, that it can be a struggle, and and I presume it was a struggle for you, in in, in some ways. And looking back, I was looking at your IMDb earlier on and in This Year’s Love you are credited as “smug man at party”

“Smug man at party”. That’s who I am. I’m a smug man, at a party. That is the definition of where my career started – and will probably end.

[laughs]

But smug man at party did get punched quite, quite… you know, full on in the face by, by Dougie Henshall, so, yeah.

Yeah, that’s right. So, but how do you…

So what was the question? [chuckles]

How do you prepare for playing smug man at a party? And, at the time, what were your feelings about that? ‘I am playing smug man at party but I’d rather be playing a, rather be doing Uncle Vanya.’

I just… how I prepared for it, by just being myself. As I said, I’m smug man at party.

Just improv.

You know what, this is something again… I am sort of starting… taking steps to mentor students and do some work with this year’s graduates who have had their careers… you know, their career launches stunted, and this is something that I would say to any, any actor breaking in or starting life in the profession, is, I always prepared every role as if it was a leading character. Because I hoped, and some, somewhere deep down knew that I would be playing the leading character one day, and I just needed to keep practicing how I was gonna play it and how I would do the preparation. So, I have got ridiculous notes – maybe not for smug man at party – but for, you know, two lines in Casualty. I’ve got, like, lots of notes of who the character is, where he was born, where he came from, how he was educated, what he likes, what music he listens to, because I just felt like, create a whole person there so that when you do get the chance to play something more in-depth you have got tools to do it. So… And that is the advi… and it’s the same with, um, with auditioning for things. I always say, imagine that the audition they, they’ve said to you ‘actually, someone has dropped out, you’re gonna have to go on and play this role tomorrow, either on stage or on film, just give us a taste of what, of how you would play it. The role is yours, but just give us a shot at it.’ So you are fully… fully commit to, to whatever it is you are doing, and it’s the same with, with… Everything that I try to apply myself to now. I, I throw myself all in, and equally with audio books, you know. You say, some people are a bit nervous about reading and, but you gotta be fully committed and I think that was… maybe that should be my, my tombstone is that ‘he was fully committed’. Cause that’s how I feel.

Richard Armitage, it has been an absolute pleasure, enjoy the rest of the day in your fort.

Thank you, Chris Hewitt.

Thank you, cheers.

So, my comments

I thought it was really interesting that Richard confirmed his commitment to audio recording in this chat. And especially as a medium of art in its own right (rather than a filler in between jobs). With a permanent studio set-up in planning for him, it sounds as if we have more audio material in our future. He really is becoming a one-man show, recording on his own, dealing with some of the technology, I presume. I wonder how well that actually works out, though, because an essential part of recording is actually a producer on the other side of the window who is there for quality control, i.e. points out omitted words or tonal changes or other errors that make it necessary to re-record a line. Undoubtedly that can also be done once a complete recording is being post-produced – although my impression is that it is not ideal because it is very difficult to hit exactly the same tone and pitch of a sentence again when you have to re-record after a little while. (An issue that I noticed in the recording of Tattooist which had noticeable changes in recording quality/surrounding sound/pitch.) But I completely understand that it must be a great experience for him to actually be able to *work from home*. It’s something that an actor can never do. They always have to leave the fort (haha) to work on set or on location. It must make a lovely change for him to work creatively – but from his own home.

Insights into the actual technique of narrating an audio book, are always interesting. So when Richard mentions that he has shifted from accent-based characterisations to distinguishing between characters through tone/pitch, that almost felt like a light-bulb moment. Obviously this kind of characterisation depends on how many characters appear in a book. So Dickens and Ellis require quite a cast of voices. It’s different with the more recent audio books such as His & Hers  and The Jane Austen Society. Particularly in the latter I had noticed that RA went easy on the accents, yet the voices were still distinct. Good call – and a clever one, too. I think he is absolutely right, in that different accents can definitely feel distracting, and especially so for non-native listeners like myself. (Having said that, I really do enjoy him putting on Scottish, Northern English, even Irish accents – it’s refreshing to hear the familiar voice sound so different.) I like that he is making these creative decisions himself – not the producers. It gives him ownership of the creative work, and if it works as instinctually as he says, it also makes for a more natural sound and end product. – I was a bit confused though, when Richard said he did not have to construct the various characters’ voices in Dickens but they came instinctively “because the descriptions are so succinct”. Succinct? Ah, as in “clear” rather than “brief”? Well, Dickens was certainly a book that benefitted from his talent for accent and tone, no matter whether they were prescribed by the author or came straight from Richard’s belly.

My personal highlight of the whole conversation was probably Richard’s hilarious quip about “smug man at party”. “Started my career as smug man at party – and will probably end there as well”. I like when he comes out with this kind of funny self-irony. Especially as I can’t quite see him as a smug b’tard (although he definitely comes across as much less unsure about his own worth than he used to. The wisdom – and equanimity – of age?) I am really curious what he will be – and look like – as an old man. I am sort of hoping that my interest in him lasts another while, or should I have moved on from all this, that I will at least look him up in 20 years’ time, to check up on his grey hair. I should put a reminder in my iPhone calendar. “15th June 2040: Google old man Richard Armitage”.

Speaking of “old man”, here is a neat segue to a part of the chat that I *wasn’t* quite so happy with. You know the way we all bring our own life experience to everything we hear and try to understand? Well, I turned 50 last year, much to my own disgust. Yep, I thoroughly hate being “not-young” anymore. And from that perspective I can understand a certain trepidation in actors who reach that milestone. Although I think that female actors have it much worse than male.  So it is actually refreshing to see Richard declare that he is looking forward to 50, (never mind that he is contradicting what he just said 10 seconds before, i.e. that he is not accepting that number but denying it). However, I have to say I felt a bit miffed over the image he evidently has of people over 50. Fat, grey, anti-social and stuffing themselves with crappy food. Hm. Ok, I concede that I am 50 and not slim but I’d like to see men deal with that horrible hormone shit going on in their bodies in those years of menopausal transition. But connecting this pivotal age with that body shape – and using the *other* F-word that is extremely hurtful to those who have dealt with weight issues – felt insensitive to me. Fat-shaming as well as ageist, I guess. Which just disappoints me, considering that a core group of his long-term fans are women of *that* generation (but in many different shapes and forms). I am more or less whistling in the dark when I say this, but I do not think that reaching 50 means we are useless and negligent bordering on dismissive. The meat market that is the entertainment business, probably makes it a tough time for actors, too, and RA has always had a problem with his age. I sympathise. But hey, Rich, there is yet life in these old bones, and while we may feel more comfortable and confident of our self-worth, that doesn’t mean we automatically let ourselves go. You’ll find out yourself, sooner rather than later!

While we are at it with the critical thoughts – sometimes I am wondering whether Richard has lost touch a little bit. While it was really interesting to hear the genesis of the Chekhov stories audio book, I almost choked on my tea when I heard him say that he ‘felt that it was a good idea to sort of push this through, almost as a little sweetener for people that had maybe had their ticket cancelled or something’. Um. I’m sorry that I am sounding like a broken record at this point, but what is “sweet” about a commercial offering? The Chekhov audio book is not exactly a gift, even if at 15 £ it is only a fraction of the price of a theatre ticket. No one forced me to buy the audio book, and I did so because a) I have an Audible subscription and b) I was curious about the stories, but I think Richard is deceiving himself if he thinks that this is anything other than a commercial product that has been created to generate revenue. (And I think *we* are deceiving ourselves if we believe that Richard is performing audio books with the primary goal of providing his audience with velvet ear candy. He knows what he is selling…) I’d prefer if that kind of thing would be acknowledged rather than concealed under a rather opaque guise of sharing sublime pieces of art.

Good to know, though, that he got himself through lockdown happy and distracted and well. Recording and reading, staying off social media (no shit?!!), enjoying the quiet and working on the stories. That sounds like heaven for a semi-introvert, something I can identify with. It sounded as if the lockdown was almost a lucky chance for him in that sense, forcing him to explore technology and discover that it actually makes things better and easier for himself. I do wonder, though, what he learnt about himself… very curious! Also, I loved hearing that he is somehow involved in mentoring drama students and sharing his own experience and wisdom gained over a 20+ year career with the new generation. Would have loved to know whether he is doing that through his own alma mater (LAMDA) or since he is based in New York again, with a drama school in the US. Can you imagine Richard as a teacher? I’d actually say he’d be good at it. He does express himself carefully and clearly, and he has plenty of empathy for actors – and possibly also drive to pass on his knowledge to others. It’s certainly a rewarding thing to do, as teachers in *any* field would probably agree.

Overall, the interview didn’t necessarily touch on anything sensationally new, but there were some individual insights in his whole recording process that I appreciated. It did stay on the surface, though, and I wished the interviewer had used the conversation to dig a bit deeper rather than just banter. OTOH – a little light relief is what we all need at this time. I’ll go back in my box now and think of smug man at party 😂.

 

74 thoughts on “Podcast Transcript and a Few Comments

  1. What a great job you have done with the transcript! My respect! Thank you 🙏🏻
    Re his 50, I don’t believe what he’s saying. He is vain (his words), he will take good care of himself 😊
    And 50 is not the end, it’s a new beginning 😉
    I also want to thank you for your blog posts and your efforts with the RAnet and comments on my TL. ❤️🤗

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad the transcript has been of use for others, too. I wanted to have the statements written down for reference, but it also occurred to me that a transcript might make it easier for others to consume the interview 🙂
      You may have hit the nail on the head there. I don’t believe that he is going to let himself go, either. But I take issue with what I see implied in his remarks. As you say, 50 is not the end. And people over 50 are neither unattractive nor repulsive.

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  2. Thanks for thus transcript, Guylty. Hold on, have I missed two audiobooks? His and Hers and The Jane Austen Society??? I’ve just listened to the first story of the Chekhov (Ward 6) and I have to say I found it excruciating 😖.
    I’m just not sure I’m cut out for Chekhov… I’m hoping to revise my opinion with the other stories.

    Regarding age, it’s tricky, isn’t it… I think when you reach certain “significant” milestones you almost believe nobody else has ever suffered that indignity 🤣 I remember when I hit 50 I was quite depressed but wasn’t allowed to wallow in it because David was already 10 years ahead so didn’t know what I had to complain about 🤣

    I’m willing to cut RA a lot of slack at this point because he’s had to keep himself in shape all these years in case he has to take his shirt off (in front of the public/cameras, not just a loving partner) so I don’t blame him one bit for looking forward to being able to relax the training schedule 😊

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    • Yes, those two audio books were released recently, Helen. They are a complete contrast to the Chekhov short stories. I can fully recommend His & Hers, which is a thriller/whodunnit and really cleverly done. The Jane Austen Society is more of a modern romance novel. (Personally I didn’t like it at all; I found it predictable and shallow. But it is easy entertainment.)
      LOL – yes, I tend to forget that others have survived the indignity of turning 50, too – or may even have completely turned it around to their advantage. I actually wish I had more friends who are older than me, so I can feel young in comparison 😁
      Good point re. RA looking forward to actually relaxing his strict regime. Might indeed be a positive by-product for someone (male) in his business. (Can’t really see him going to seed, though. Vain dude!)

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  3. thanks for sharing the transcript here (b/c I wouldn’t have listened to the interview). I agree with Olga about the ‘turning 50’ comments, he was just talking out of his a**, which I hope never does get flabby b/c the overweight thing seems to be a real issue for him 🙄 it was nice to see him talk about something that he’s enjoying so much though (recording the audio books). he’s passionate about his acting but I get the feeling sometimes that it’s more a driving force than an actual enjoyment for him. I’ve always loved how he explores his characters so thoroughly, giving them whole backstories. I wonder if he’s ever played Dungeons & Dragons? I think he’d be really good at it! 😀 as for your own issues with turning 50, when my mother turned 50 she learned how to play the electric guitar and joined a band, so life is what you make of it 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL on your comment re. talking out of his best asset… long may it stay wrinkle-free and juicy.
      Interesting comment re. acting as a driving force rather than a natural enjoyment. It certainly comes across that it is hard work and something he doesn’t take or achieve lightly, but applies a lot of effort and thought to. I mean, even to do that at the beginning of his career, when he wasn’t yet playing lead roles, speaks of a very professional and serious approach to his work. I also found it interesting that he seems to have hung onto all those notes. What for? Is there more to them than just keyword lists and extra info, are they “literary” in the sense that they are written like a story? Or is it sentimentality? (perfectly valid, of course)
      I love the story of your mum. Oh no, I feel under pressure now to do something cool while I am still 50… 😬. I guess it doesn’t count that I got my first tattoo for my 50th birthday? Maybe I now need to get my motorcycle license, save for a Harley and then go on a round-the-world trip? Jokes aside, I have an idea how I would love to mark my 50th year, but it’s impossible to do it. I’d love to build a tiny house and then park it somewhere in a lovely spot near the sea as a get-away whenever I need it… sigh. Dreams.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Merci beaucoup pour le texte en anglais, cela va m’aider à comprendre l’interview de A à Z.
    J’ai adoré le son de sa voix lorsqu’il a prononcé le mot:
    ” bourgeoisie”
    sans aucun accent.

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    • Oh, good thing you are mentioning that, Radagast. The way he pronounced bourgeoisie stood out to me, too. Good to know that he pronounced it really well. (I despise the concept, but I love the sound of that word.)

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  5. Big Thanks, Ms Guylty for all the extensive text work! Very much appreciated!

    What I wonder about….. does he have 2 wardrobe units?? One in London and one in NYC? That seems a bit ……over the top! Oder???

    Thinking about Richard’s “obsession” with body weight…he started out as a dancer, and they are a particularly hysterical bunch of people when it comes to their body perception. Every gram too much is a tragedy. My first-hand experience. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s an excellent point, Linda, about RA’s dance origins probably contributing to his seeming lifelong obsession with weight. Combined with the unending pressure on actors, especially actors in his class of looks, it’s been ingrained in him for a very, very long time that he “can’t” be an ounce over the supposed ideal for his considerable height.

      Like G, his talk about age automatically leading to a very specific decline irritated me, but given his earlier comments about his “dad bod being here to stay,” (🙄), it does seem like he is looking forward to not having to stay in the sort of peak physical shape he once did. So I guess no more Proctor goodness for us! But I truly can’t imagine him going the way of Welles or Brando either. He may slack off a bit but our beautiful man will always be his vain self, I think.

      On the whole, I enjoyed the podcast a lot. Always love to hear his process and what he finds interesting about his own work. Thank you for the transcription, G!!

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      • I’m not sure that he is really looking forward to his 5th decade and to losening up in terms of weight. I feel that he is just coquetting with these statements. Almost like “I’ve said it out loud to make the ghosts disappear”. Possibly also fishing for compliments. (Worked really well for him when throwing the F word around in that conversation with Martin Freeman. Bless Freeman, he immediately shot back with a lovely compliment…)

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    • You’re welcome 🙂
      Do you mean “make-shift studio” by wardrobe? I don’t know, but from what he is saying here and what he was saying about his London set-up before, it seems to me as if he was staying in rented accommodation in London, and simply bought the cheapest (Ikea) wardrobe possible to set up a sound-proof studio in his flat. Yet in NYC he is back in his own apartment, which is probably bigger and has more space to accommodate a small home studio. So in that sense he probably left the wardrobe in London and only brought his new tech equipment along to NYC.
      Good explanation re. body weight and his horror of gaining weight. So it’s totally ingrained in him to be slim, and hence anything less than skinny is horrific in his opinion.

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    • I was wondering about where this preoccupation might come from. Dancing sounds plausible, but was he ever prone to being overweight? I thought he was a beanpole? (I strongly relate.)

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      • I seriously doubt he ever was even just *near* being overweight. I mean, all the pics I have seen of him from pre-telly times, he looks slim and svelte. But who knows, maybe in *that* business even “normal” weight is seen as overweight?

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  6. Thanks for this!
    And I’ve got news for Mr. A – I’m double nickles (55) and wouldn’t go back to my younger age for anything in the world. Fifty is not the end of the world.

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    • I wish I had that positive attitude to age in general and my fifties in particular. If I could choose, I’d like to be 39 forever. That was my best age. It’s been downhill ever since 😂

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      • I agree, 50 is not the end of the world. I was in the doldrums when I hit it, partly because I’m a perpetual teenager in my head, but I’m 55 too and hardly ever think about it now – and I have a good time as ever I did (this period exempted).

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        • That is what I am hoping for, J. As a matter of fact, I have *always* been preoccupied with my age, whether it was 22, 30, 40 or 50. Once I am a year in, I hopefully will have forgotten. (Until I turn 60… *meh*)

          Liked by 1 person

  7. I grew up with a dad who was proud of his age and had no problem telling anyone his age. His family for the most part lived to an old age even in the days when people didn’t. My mom even said much about age, so not sure how she felt about getting older. My husband and his family have been old since they been 30 it seems. I guess I am more like my dad really don’t care. My husband turned 50 in January and I will be 50 in August, really no big deal to me. I can see where he would worry that the industry would think at a certain age or weight you are past it.

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    • You are raising an interesting point there, Katie. Our approach to age is also determined by the way our families talked about age. My father didn’t say anything about age – he never came across as particularly concerned about his age. My mother was 7 years younger than him, and thus in their circle of friends always the youngest. She never had an issue with ageing because everyone else was older than her. However, I remember from a young age getting some sort of pressure from my mum re. age. She often said things to me along the lines of “whatever do you want to do that for? You are far too old for that anyway.” Or she convinced me not to take a year off between school and uni “because you are getting older and older”. Age has always been an issue for me…

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  8. Really enjoyed the interview. Thank you for passing it on to us.all this time I thought he was in England because he used the word “wardrobe”. I think in the USA we hang our clothes in a closet. Sherlock I am not.

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    • You can take the boy out of England, but you can’t take England out of the boy 😉. I think he only used the word wardrobe because he was chatting with an English bloke. I was confused, though, because he said that his NY ‘studio’ was in his “hallway”…

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      • Did RA say in one of his interviews that he had a house in London? now. Also that spending some time in the UK each year grounded him. So many interviews this year I’ve lost track of them all.

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        • Not sure whether he really still has a base in London, Wendy. He sure used to have a house (I think in Dulwich iirc) but it is documented that he sold that around Hobbit times and then bought his NY flat and moved there permanently. Who knows, he might have gotten himself a little London place in the meantime? (Although I almost doubt that, considering house prices in London. It would be quite a luxury to have a London flat that sits empty for most of the year…)

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  9. Thanks for the transcription complete with stammers lol
    If you can bear to watch ‘Staged’ again you will see that he is quite ‘chubby’ I reckon this was a result of him ‘letting himself go’ after all those semi starving days as a musical artist lol
    Initially, I was disappointed to learn he was in NYC however I suppose he had little choice once the play ended and the hotels shut down.
    Obviously going to his Dad’s place wasn’t his first thought.

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    • Yep, I totally and deliberately left the stammers in and did not clean it up. Particularly the interviewer. (I was appalled at his inability to cobble a complete sentence together. For a radio presenter that is a rather poor show…)
      Re. ‘Staged’ – nah, that was baby-fat 😂
      Yeah, I felt disappointed about NYC, too – not least because it kind of completely crushes any hopes of renewing Uncle Vanya. (Mind you, I don’t think that he didn’t have a choice. I’m sure he could’ve afforded a couple more months’ rent if he’d had to stay… I rather imagine that he was keen to get back to his SO after six months of being apart. Understandable.)

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      • I’m sure he wasn’t in a hotel. He probably had a short-term lease somewhere. There’s plenty of services like that in London for a price. I doubt you could put a home studio (even if only a wardrobe) in a hotel room.

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        • Agree. I just don’t see him, Mr All-Private-And-Anit-Social, in a hotel for 3 months. A serviced apartment is more up his street, I’d assume – a proper flat with kitchenette, but also optional services if needed. he’d have to have checked into a whole hotel suite in order to fit a wardrobe studio into his room…

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  10. Re the teaching, I thought he was maybe refering to his being a BAFTA member now which referenced mentoring.
    The podcast threw up a few interesting points, but I didn’t find myself glued to every word. So I appreciate your work on the transcript! Lol
    I’m not convinced by his kind words about being lucky to meet fans at stage door either, lol (again, grateful he’s does/did just his actual interaction don’t give the impression of him feeling lucky )

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    • Oh, I forgot about the BAFTA membership. Indeed, that would make sense.
      Re. meet fans at the stage door “if you are lucky” – oh please, Richard, save your sarcasm for someone else. If he is anything, then he definitely is NOT keen on the whole stage door thing. (I thought it was hilarious though that he actually seemed to want to explain to the interviewer what the SD is. As if he had never heard of that concept…)

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Thank you for the transcript Guylty it’s great to be able to concentrate on the words, rather than be distracted by his voice or laugh. I like the pic with the stick! If he considers being over 50 as a state of decline (which is rubbish) he better be careful that his industry doesn’t think that of him too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hehe, the stick will be his sexiest prop.
      I wonder whether he is aware that his comments may also be heard by casting agents. He is not exactly advertising himself in the best light. Funny, I thought he had become quite proficient in marketing over the last 3 months.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Many thanks for the interview transcript. Do you think he is in the States now following that interview or still in the UK?
    I did not like turning 50 but I’m OK with it now at 53, particularly as I have my oestrogen patch! 50 is the new 38 as far as I’m concerned!

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    • From the interview (and the article in which the audio file was originally published) it is pretty clear that he has left the UK and is back in NY. The interviewer actually says that in the intro to the conversation (which I didn’t transcribe).
      Oestrogen patch??? Maybe *that* is the answer to my problems???

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      • I swear by it. I also take a progesterone tablet in the evening. If you haven’t already, I would recommend speaking with your doctor or a menopause specialist about hrt. As well as easing the symptoms of menopause, the secondary health benefits are immense – decreased risk of vascular and osteoporosis disease, and alzheimers. Our brains love oestrogen! I intend to take hrt for the rest of my life.

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  13. Thanks so much for the marathon transcript, Guylty. It must have taken you hours and a more stamina than I possess.

    O/T sorta. I keep meaning to ask this. What do I need to do to ‘like’ peoples’ comments? I’d be grateful if some kind soul would enlighten me – I’m not on SM so I can’t log in like I’m told to do whenever I try.

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    • It took about 2.5 hours, I think, mainly because of the lack of proper transcription equipment. I had to play and pause the sound file with the mouse… tiresome, but once I started I was too bloody-minded to stop 😁
      Re. liking – hm, I’m not sure whether the function for a comment like is only available to registered users? When you comment on this blog, do you always have to write your name into the name box, or does it fill in automatically? If the latter, then I would assume you are registered and signed in, and the little “like” star underneath each comment should be available to you?

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      • No, I always have to fill in the form. I can comment all right (obviously 😂 ) but that’s all. 🙁 I didn’t know about the registering bit. Will investigate further!

        Two and a half hours is true dedication. And you had to keep listening to him. 😌.
        Thanks so much again.

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        • Did you get any further with the “like” issue? As a work-around you could theoretically start a WordPress blog (which you never have to write in – it would only serve as a way of having access to the WordPress reader that compiles your subscribed blogs for you, and would allow you to stay signed in, foregoing the need to fill in the forms every time you write a comment). It’s free, and I know that quite a few people do that.
          As for the transcript – yep. Without the right equipment (i.e. with going back and forth clicking between the word document and the podcast player), 10 minutes of spoken word usually translates into 1 hour of transcribing. Mad. Thank cod I at least had the soothing tones of RA on my ears…

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    • And some of it, Jenny S, might be controlled by the browser software on your device. Poke around in its preferences and look for an “autofill” option (or similar wording for allowing the browser to “remember” your login at websites) that you can choose.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. I don’t think RA will ever get fat. He works out to add mass. His natural shape, which he will revert back to if he stops, is long and thin (maybe even “skinny”). Remember that photo of him as a teenaged “beanpole with a nose I hadn’t grown into?”

    And of course he is obsessed with how he looks—age, size, weight, shape, hair color, etc., etc., blah blah blah—it’s a major part of how he earns his living. I don’t think his comments on those topics reflect his attitudes toward anyone else but himself. (And how anyone can choose the acting profession with that as a critical component is beyond this reader who can barely comb her hair in the morning, let alone put on makeup.)

    What I liked about the interview was how genuinely engaged and enthusiastic he sounds. He spoke quickly and tumbled over his own words, as if to communicate, “Yes, that’s a topic I’ve already thought about, and yes, I want to talk about that, and here are my many thoughts on that subject….” His usual interviews are slower (gives him time to think while he’s answering) and more deliberate (more controlled, planned)—which isn’t “bad,” just different.

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    • I agree with you re. why his looks (and weight) are important to RA. Sure, in *that* business your looks are what you are cast for once you have established yourself as a capable talent. However, I am not so sure that the attitude fat = bad is only directed at his own self. My experience with slim and fit people has been that they tend to think that anyone who is overweight, is simply a lazy bum who hasn’t got enough discipline to keep themselves slim. (That is a generalisation, and I have met slim people who were *not* dismissive of overweight people.)
      Nice observation re. the interview. I had not necessarily interpreted it that way, but you are right, the way he stumbles over words or leaves sentences hanging, might reflect his enthusiasm and how keen he is to talk about it.

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  15. Thanks so much, for your hard work on the transcript. I haven’t listened to the interview. I agree with you on the whole ‘50, f-word thing and also I’m glad you mentioned the Martin Freeman conversation, because that was the first thing I thought of when I read it! I confess, I let my Audible subscription slide last year and I’ve still got quite a few books to listen to (all his work, natch!). Even though my crush is fading, I love listening to him on audible – I even enjoyed the chick lit story, because I so enjoyed hearing him say rude and sexy things 😂. I am glad he’s still talking about getting the Joy Ellis books onto TV and I still feel stupidly pleased with myself, that I asked that him that question at Red Dragon con (I may have mentioned that once or twice 😉)
    I will be turning 50 in November and it does not please me AT ALL, but I know I need to get over myself! I was hoping to complete my degree before the milestone, but it’s taking a little longer. My current fantasy is to write a fantastic novel and have Richard record the audiobook. Or just have Richard.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yep, the F-word was a trigger for me then, and it still is. I just don’t like it, and it really surprised me when I had a conversation on Twitter the other day about it and the other person said that she believes “fat” is a totally neutral word. Funny. I really find that word rude and aggressive – which is why I don’t like my favourite actor use it.
      So you are catching up with his audio back catalogue? I must confess that I really disliked the “sexy” chick lit story he recorded. (Review here, in case you don’t mind me spoiling and dissing the whole thing: https://guylty.net/2018/03/07/wanderfrust-a-review/) Unlike others, I quite enjoyed The White Queen, and especially Our Man from St Petersburg. But I love historic novels, anyway, so that was right up my street. I’m definitely a big fan of the Joy Ellis novels, but that is totally subjective and probably also influenced by the fact that I have had a really sweet and lovely correspondence with Ellis. She is a really lovely lady, and for me that also extends to her crime novels.
      And hey, you are doing a degree right now? May I ask in which discipline? You have my admiration for that! (Going back to college and getting a degree was my present to myself when I reached 40.)
      Could you write a novel and make Richard (or a look-alike) the main character, please? 😉 And *then* he could record it and also please play the character in the TV adaptation. Sorry, you can’t ‘have Richard’, though – you have to share 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • Haha, I LOVE your reply! I’m sorry it’s taken me so long to read and respond – we’ve had my sister and niece staying for a few days, so I was offline for a bit. Thanks for the link, I’ll check it out…to be honest, the bits I enjoyed were only RA talking about sex 😍 apart from that, I wasn’t mad about the story! That’s so lovely that you had contact with Joy Ellis – I’d love to know what she thinks about the popularity of the audiobooks AND the possibility of TV adaptation…as for my degree, I initially studied law, but once I’d passed my level one modules I had a change of heart…I didn’t feel bright enough to go the distance so I changed to Literature & Creative Writing. It’s still really tough and I’ve had a few false starts due to ‘life’, but I’m about to start level 3 in October. The first module is literature and I’m going to try and read the first 4 books before term starts, so I can get ahead. They’re all rather meaty tomes though – Bleak House is the first and its like a brick! My last module is Advanced Creative Writing. I want to finish my degree on a high! I am hopelessly out of practice, but I do love writing so hopefully I’ll get my mojo back. If I do reasonably well on both, then I’m on course for a 2:1 which would be amazing. Which was your discipline?
        I am always sketching out some ‘Richardy’ character ideas/and I have had a story in mind for a while, notes all over the place! However, I must admit that my current muse (obsession) is Alexander Skarsgård. He’s occupying my headspace and I find him fascinating…cold, but super hot!

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  16. Thank you for the transcript, it certainly makes it easier to find certain points rather than having to run the whole thing through again. I enjoyed this interview for two main reasons (the aural aspect is a given!) – his chuckles and, as Besotted commented, his enthusiasm for his work, especially his audiobooks. I’m currently listening to The Jane Austen Society, and enjoying it. When I’m wearing my good headphones instead of earbuds, Dr Grey’s lower pitched voice sends rumbles up my spine.
    As for turning 50 and getting fat……imho I think it’s just his clumsy way of saying he’ll be glad when he doesn’t have to put in the hard physical prep work for Porter/Proctor type roles. He’s always seemed to be less than enamoured of the “hot totty” label to me, wanting an “Elephant Man” role from an interview some time ago comes to mind.
    I’m feeling old reading of the ages here, with turning 60 behind me, but Richard and being a part of this fandom make me feel much younger in my head!

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    • While I generally enjoy *any* interview that devotes more than just 5 minutes to RA, I was surprised that the usually eloquent RA was a little bit less smooth and left more elliptical sentences hanging in mid-air. Maybe he was so excited, his thoughts were faster than his tongue 😉
      I have to confess that I really was disappointed by the Austen audio book.
      Definitely clumsy. But I suspect that as much as he is implying at the moment that he wants to be freed of the Hollywood body ideals, he is going to have problems once he realises he is not seen as “totty” anymore. I just don’t buy that he does not welcome the praise for his physical appearance.

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  17. oooooh, thanks for the link! I would never have found this interview otherwise and: two goodies in one! David Thewlis AND Richard Armitage 😀 love it!
    Also: extra round of applause from me for the transcript! When Berlin Station Season 1 started and I still had the proper software because of university I made some too, but while it is of course more fun than the transcripts for my university papers were, I found it’s still always much more work than expected beforehand! like you said 2,5 hours for a bit of interview – whew! Nicht schlecht!

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    • Oh, I wish I had some proper software for transcribing and transcreating. Although I work in the wider field of translation, I don’t transcribe often enough to justify the expense…

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  18. Thanks for all this and also for your honest reaction to some things Richard said!
    The weight and grey comment didn’t bother me, but then almost every day my kids make jokes about how ancient I am (just turned 50 two months ago) and how grey I’m getting. They never broach the weight thing, though, which is good for me. 😉 Anyway, yeah, it was a very stereotypical thing of Richard to say…
    As for being out of touch, I think there is some truth to that. It feels to me like he lives in an entertainment world bubble.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The age thing is much less hurtful than the weight thing, at least for me. But there we have it – it’s whatever we have our own problems with. Richard can probably throw the F-word around and it doesn’t cross his mind that it is actually rude and offensive. Yet he gets touchy about age references. It’s all relative.
      Definitely an entertainment world bubble. Which is exacerbated by the fact that he is a voluntary recluse, anyway. When you are only surrounded by other celebs (or people who are used to working with celebs) and otherwise avoid contact with the real world while off-duty, it’s unavoidable that you lose touch. Not sure whether that is a good thing in terms of being able to play RL characters, though…

      Liked by 1 person

          • I hear ya on the body shaming, it’s been a constant part of my life as well, but I’m also trying very hard to accept it and if someone is upset about me being big, or people being big in general, well, that’s on them and not on me (she said in a moment of self-confidence).

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            • Isn’t it awful how we all have these stories? We’re never quite right in other people’s eyes, it seems.
              Now, I’m skinny, but does that insulate against these types of insults? Nope. If I had a nickel for every beanpole, or worse, anorexia comment, I could buy myself something nice.

              Liked by 1 person

            • I wish I could accept my body the way it is. I totally can’t. There is no question that you are right when you say that it reflects worse on the people who shame others for their size. Yet, I think that body and beauty ideals are so internalised by us all that inadvertent shaming (such as RA with his use of the F word) is excused by everyone as “ah, but he doesn’t mean that in an offensive way”. It’s not on the same level, but replace the F word with the N word and NO ONE would excuse *that*. Rightly so, of course. I just wish that people were more considerate.

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          • It really shows how we view things through our own lens. There’s the sender with one intention (or maybe no specific intention at all) 🗣 and then, on the way to the recipient something happens and the message that is received can be quite different, whether it’s transmitted across oceans via social media or only across two feet of air in between to people conversing. 📥
            I get annoyed by the other f-word because I think all body shaming is wrong and I try to be more sensitive to such things, even when I’m not personally affected. Now, when he starts talking about noses, my own nose is quite quickly out of joint! ☹️

            Like

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