Professor Armitage Talks Stay Close On Zoom (UPDATED)

This is the sort of material that sweetens up the downtime between Christmas and New Year. Richard is interviewed by Hey U Guys for Stay Close. It’s Zoom call together with Harlan Coben, but it’s 13+ minutes long and it goes in depth about Coben’s world-building. Before I get distracted by my own commentary, here is the clip.

Credit to Marina Roshchina on Twitter for unearthing this interview. The stand-out moment for me, of course, is the middle section where Richard is asked whether he has learnt anything about photography through playing a photographer. *evillaugh* Well, he can be sure that I will be watching his every move like a hawk… But in all seriousness, I was somewhat impressed/surprised that the props dept. came to *him* for details on the equipment to use. (And I find it very amusing that Richard apparently chose to hit them with a top-of-the-range camera that he knew they couldn’t afford 😂.) Is that down specifically to his reputation as a thoroughly prepared actor, or does the props dept routinely turn to actors (rather than producers) for such detail? I am also very intrigued to know that he has privately bought “very expensive cameras” in the past – yet we have not really seen much evidence of his personal interest in photography as such. He keeps it all private, I guess, which is fair enough. But yeah, that kind of stuff is really interesting to me, as you can imagine. Is he a Canon boy? Does he actually enjoy photography as a hobby? Does he prefer film to digital? Does he consider himself a hobby photographer? Does he document his holidays etc with a camera? Or is it more the impromptu camera phone photography these days?

He also mentions Tim Hetherington again as an inspiration for his portrayal of Ray. An interesting (and imo unusual) choice, which I will try and get into in a separate post. (Hetherington is a bit of a legend in (conflict) photography circles, not least due to the sad fact that he was killed when on assignment in Libya.)

Anyway, my title for this post refers to the fact that bespectacled professor Armitage almost looked as if he was taking notes while taking part in this Zoom call. 😂 Or maybe he was writing his Christmas cards during the sections of the interview where he was not addressed.

On a different note, the first reviews of SC  have surfaced ahead of its release. I have read a couple of them, and they are not that enthusiastic. Which brings back the ever-recurring question how much material the critics actually see when they write their reviews? have they seen the full hog and are qualified to make their judgments? I also wonder whether there is an implicit prejudice against the Coben thrillers. Yes, they are formulaic, possibly overloaded with secondary plotl ines and a whole fish shop of red herrings, but they do make binge-worthy TV. Sure, they are a bit same-y – there is always this mysterious past that catches up with the protagonists – but those are the age-old tropes of mysteries and thrillers. Well, we have to reserve judgment until we have seen for ourselves, but just to say that the *meh* reviews are not putting me off. In any case, I *must* see Richard handling the TLR 😂… If he gets that right, the show will get at least one star from me, for sure…

ETA: AND ANOTHER VIDEO. I won’t spam you with yet another post, so here it is added to this post:

 

59 thoughts on “Professor Armitage Talks Stay Close On Zoom (UPDATED)

    • What is your view – is that enough to make a sound judgment? I get that they don’t want to give away the whole story prior to release. But then the question remains whether it is necessary to have reviews at the ready *before* the show is available?

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      • Well, in general (speaking analytically) I would say that you need to see the whole thing to make a sound judgment. Thinking as a marketer, however, I’d want to know when an audience member is making their decision to (a) watch and (b) keep watching. (Netflix now decides that you liked a show if you keep it on for more than two minutes or something like that — I forget the exact number — but it’s ridiculously low.) So if that’s what Netflix wants, 2 episodes is possibly way more than enough.

        In the days of the mailed press pack (this was true for Berlin Station), you could buy the screeners over the Internet (even though recipients weren’t supposed to resell them). I assume now they send a link, but may have similar concerns about leaking or pirating? (really don’t know about that) or even server space / bandwidth? No idea.

        Do reviews attract viewers? I don’t know that either. I seem to remember that Netflix thinks it’s important if a particular show causes people to subscribe to Netflix (as opposed to just doing well among current subscribers). But if you think a show could attract subscribers, potentially yes. Now that I’m actually using my Netflix subscription, my impression is that they do a good job of pushing new content to subscribers who might like it (at least for English-language materials).

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        • Servitus,
          I thought I saw an old comment of yours that you watched something via a streaming party? I know i keep repeating I am new to RA Universe—anxious to know everything—would love to somehow watch SC w other Ardent Armitage Activists.

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  1. I appreciate any interview where RA shares more than a perfunctory look into his thought processes in approaching a character, and this one didn’t disappoint. Particularly admired his comments about images as memory triggers, though he’s said the same about music. Not surprising. As an actor he’s keenly aware of using all his senses to bring a character to life — something he does so well.

    Loved the moments of levity, especially the overpriced camera bit. At this point in his very successful career, I have no doubt the writers and directors RA chooses to work with would make every effort to include him on such decisions. Given his extensive preparation for any role, they’d be fools not to do so.

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  2. Thank you, I love this interviews 🙂 I always like to find out all I can about BTS and the filming process (I watched all the 30 hours of extras for The Hobbit in the DVDs ;)) I find it interesting, sometimes the creative process attracts me more than the show itself… I generally read critics’ reviews out of curiosity but very often they irritate me as i can’t see how that’s a proper profession, meaning that it can be very subjective. I never alow them to put me off watching something as i like to make my own mind up. I also never read Harlan’s books before watching a show because a) I’m usually a book purist so if the show doesn’t follow the book I get annoyed (it has often happened with Stephen king’s books and adaptations). I know books and TV or films are different media so they can’t be exactly the same but generally I either enjoy one or the other. b) I don’t like spoilers as i like to try to work out “who’s done it” and “what happened” on my own. Having said that I would LOVE for the Jackman and Ellis books series to be made into a tv show (of course with Richard as Jackman) even though I’m slowly listening to all the books narrated by Rich (I’m curently on book 4). I aways listen to them during my lunch break at work to evade into my “happy place with his voice”

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    • I feel the same about photography – I take much more pleasure from figuring out how a photo was made, than the actual photo itself 😂.
      I don’t really have a specific MO when it comes to shows that RA is in and that are based on a book. In the past I have both read the book beforehand, or avoided all spoilers. For me it depends on whether the show in question is a thriller or not. I don’t want the suspense to be killed in a thriller but I don’t mind reading any other story prior to release. But since Coben insists that he changes things up in the TV adaptations of his books, it might be ok to read it beforehand. (I haven’t, though.)
      I’d love to see RA as Jackman, too. I really wonder what has happened to that project. It’s been ages since he confirmed he had acquired the rights to (at least one of) the books.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The Hey Guys interview was interesting, with good questions. That is so funny about RA writing his Christmas cards. What was he doing??? Editing a film maybe. Fiddling with his pyjama cords? His distraction was weird and so was Coben’s face disappearing. I suppose that is the nature of Zoom-type interviews. Still great to see new RA press in the run-up.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Tbh I thought it was mildly impolite to appear distracted, although he did give the impression he was still listening. But having said that, it looks as if he had a whole day of Zooms scheduled, so I’ll excuse him the fidgeting 😉. Must be rather annoying to be sitting and talking about the same stuff over and over again. I really don’t envy the actors when it comes to the promo rounds…
      (Ha, when Coben vanished, maybe he had to take a toilet break? 😂)

      Liked by 1 person

  4. As always, the good stuff drops overnight and it was great to wake up to these interviews this morning!
    I enjoy learning about a project’s behind-the-scenes, especially Richard’s thought processes, and this was no different. I don’t think I’ve ever seen an interview where he is distracted like this, he’s usually so focussed, but, as Armi says above, maybe it’s the nature of Zoom.

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    • You are right, he always gives his best in the press junkets and is usually not distracted at all but appears very focussed and gives great answers. I mean, he did so here, too, but the fidgeting was a bit distracting. I wonder whether it was a case of being embarrassed or somewhat self-conscious. I certainly feel like that when I am on Zoom calls with my editorial team, and find myself taking notes or drinking tea just to distract myself from staring at my own picture on the screen 😬

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  5. I finally listened to this. Yuck. Zoom does no one any favors, and Coben is a d***. I wonder what they have against bar mitzvah photographers?

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    • This was my thought exactly too about Coben! He was so dismissive of people making their living doing bar mitzvahs and wedding photography. Is it really sinking that low if you do that? Completely put me off him and I fast forwarded the Coben parts of the interview.

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      • FF through Coben: I should have done that.

        The thing is that I’ve not been to just one of those parties, I’ve probably been to a dozen of them — at least. I’m sure by the standard of the mild-mannered English middle classes, they are nuts. Standards of taste between different cultural groups in a society surely differ. But they differ between all cultures and the thing is that the people who throw and attend those parties do so because they enjoy them that way.

        This worries me a bit because before I clamped down on avoiding publicity, i think I saw an image that indicates there is a relevant scene to this theme, and now I am wondering if I am going to spend an hour being annoyed at Coben’s (and the producers’) ethnocentrism. But whatever. Too late now.

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        • I haven‘t watched SC yet, so I am only guessing here, but I was wondering whether the emphasis here was on a sort of „fake“ paparazzi photography, i.e. people hiring a photographer to pretend to shoot „celeb“ photos? (But even if so, that doesn‘t make it better that they choose to use a bar mitzvah as the location… why not a „sweet sixteen“ or something that is unconnected to a religious ceremony?)

          Liked by 1 person

          • I saw the scene in question last night. It would be very easy to interpret it at casually anti-Semitic if I were at all sensitive. That’s all I’ll say. But yeah. If we’re talking “OTT by middle class English standards,” there are plenty of other occasions they could have used (including some British weddings I’ve seen televised –I’ve only been at one wedding involving a colleague from England myself, and it was sedate by my standards). Do Brits have quinceañeras? They are pretty bombastic, too.

            re: paparazzi — I think the point stands that people who do that job aren’t automatically morally reprehensible.

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            • I have not heard of quinceañeras but in the UK ,at least, there is a cliche of jobbing photographers/ musicians etc earning their bread and butter from ‘birthdays, weddings and bar mitzvahs’.

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              • I’m not even sure whether it is a cliché as such. In my experience, the vast majority of (professional) photographers are wedding/occasion photographers and only a smaller number is lucky enough to sell art photography and stock photography or journalistic photos.

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                  • If it’s not a cliché, it is kind of a known role. There was a lot of discussion here about the MWACs (Mom with a camera) when digital SLRs became affordable — would they displace these occasion photographers? (To some extent they have, but it also seems like there are a lot of MWACs these days who are basically professional photographers.) The old studios (like the place where I had my HS graduation picture taken) seem to have disappeared.

                    And even the people in this roles are much more sophisticated than an outsider would think. I hired a professional real estate photographer to photograph the house and grounds before we sold it and it was torn down. I found him on FB and liked his photos (and didn’t have time to dawdle on decisions). Anyway, he took the first half of the photos on a gloomy day, and I said, too bad about the weather, and he said “my editors in South Korea can fix that.” He shot the angles / pictures, and the South Koreans made it look like it was a beautiful day outside. Globalized, sophisticated, here in this sort of remote corner of the world as far as photography goes.

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                    • I think that is what sets the professionals apart from the MWACs. They know their stuff. Don’t get me wrong, (some) amateurs are brilliant, too. But as with almost any profession or craft, it serves practitioners well when they know *why* they are doing what they are doing so that they can replicate it anytime.

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                    • This is essentially how I feel about cooking (although to be fair, I have learned more about the science of good food in the last decade than I ever expected to). I used to daydream about becoming a caterer when I was dissertating, and I’m still comfortable making all the food for a large party, but I’m not an expert, I’m not especially inventive (I like reproducing things I’ve already tried elsewhere), and I don’t really want to go there.

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                    • I know what you mean. I totally lack any imagination when it comes to cooking, and even when I craft I find that I am better at “improving” someone else’s original idea than coming up with that idea myself in the first place…

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            • I’ve never heard of a quinceaneras? But as I said, I think it would be easy enough to find an occasion that has no specific religious affiliation. So, meh.
              As for paparazzi – very tricky subject because the line between celebrity photography and intrusive stalking is rather fine… So I would argue that paparazzi photography is morally dubious, whereas paparazzi photographers are not necessarily amoral themselves…

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              • A quinceañera is a coming-of-age party thrown for a young Latino woman (usually if the family is from somewhere that was in the Spanish empire). They are seriously detailed, expensive and quite intense.

                And probably I should interject into this discussion that the party for a bar or bat mitzvah isn’t really religious *as such*. That piece takes place in the synagogue. And these festive occasions with pictures, feasting, dancing generally tend to be more common among less stringently observant Jews.

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                • Ah, I see. I had never heard that term before. I have the impression that those special age-related parties (sweet 16, coming of age, 21) are not as important anymore as they used to be, at least here. Not a single of my kids’ friends had any of those parties…
                  Having seen the episode in the context of the show now, the casual antisemitism stands out to me even more. Really, *really* unfortunate decision to use a bar mitzvah party as the event to illustrate how far Ray has fallen. The way he spoke about the Jewish kid was just off.

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                  • I don’t live on the border anymore so I see less of it, but I just found an article that says it’s roughly a billion dollar annual industry in the US, so I don’t think people are stopping. It’s kind of a cultural identity issue. My nieces did not want confirmation parties (scandalous: but I suspect that if my mother had been alive there would have been parties anyway) but my elder niece did have a high school graduation party. Definitely more subdued, though.

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              • Given that apparently a lot of the day to day celeb photography is done by celebs who signal somehow that they want to be photographed, or at least are in situations in which they can expect to be photographed, how is it morally amibiguous? I get that taking photographs of people against their express will is morally reprehensible, but that seems like a minority of what happens, even if that is what gets the big attention.

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                • I don’t think that I disagreed with that? Celebs are inviting pap photography to a large extent. However, there are also photographs taken of celebs in situations where they clearly did *not* invite the intrusion, and that’s where *I* see a moral dilemma, hence “fine line”…

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    • Extremely offensive, and I am wondering why they did not proof-read the (obviously automatic) subtitling prior to release. There were plenty of other mistakes in there, too.

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  6. I can easily imagine James Nesbit and Sarah P hanging out in the make up trailer in the morning for a coffee, gossip etc. Just struggle to see RA doing same. I think he would run a mile from a trailer full of chattering, squawking women!
    Looks like cast includes Jo Joyner who played Fanny Thornton in North and South. Also, I wonder whether there was much reminiscing on set with James Nesbit regarding their time filming the Hobbit in NZ?
    I have never read a Harlan Coben book but I quite enjoyed watching the Stranger although I found the ending disappointing.
    Can’t help wondering whether RA is going to take his top off and grace us in the black undies again for his role as Ray? Just have to wait and see….😆

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    • I have to admit that I felt somewhat insulted by Nesbitt’s description of the make-up trailer and the “squawking” women. I immediately turned against him for that. It’s such a cliché (“women chatting loudly and gossiping and generally a nuisance when in a group”). I might be oversensitive here, but yeah, I felt it was a rude and thoughtless remark about both the female crew members and his fellow actors.
      I really enjoyed The Stranger, too, and loved all the cliffhangers. In hindsight I found some of it a bit too convoluted and unnecessary, but I felt very much entertained by it.
      Hehe, I’ve been wondering too, whether RA has gotten his wish not to take his kit off, or not…

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Having spent the pandemic in endless Zoom meetings for work, I had to laugh at his distracted behavior. My guess is that he was looking at his phone. I’ve tried to perfect the act of doing that during large group online meetings; as much as I want to be paying full attention, I’ve often been dealing with other urgent work things or an elderly parent with endless medical emergencies, and have no choice but to multitask. Of course, I only have to worry about the 10 people on the call, not the general public watching an interview. And while I *try* not to look distracted, boyfriend here is not trying one bit! Tsk, tsk.

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    • Hehehe, thank you for this insight, piffle. That actually sounds like a good explanation. He was texting on his phone while zooming on his iPad Pro. Maybe he deliberately wanted to appear busy – multitasking successfully while still listening attentively and chiming in when required?

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