Just as I am finding it extremely hard to make any sense out of what I am about to share here, I am also struggling to put it into words, to get my thoughts together so that I can put my points across in the fairest, most respectful and sensitive manner. It is a real challenge though to pass on information to someone else when one’s head cannot get around the inherent contradiction, the bi-polarity, the paradox and even the impossibility of the truths contained in that information, so please bear with me.

As I wrote to Richard on a recent tweet (though I think it is safe to say that with 106K+ followers, he probably receives an average of say, 1K messages on his inbox per day and that’s just from Twitter, so the chances of him ever reading my ramblings are pretty much non-existent. Having said that though, if I want to say something which I deeply care about to a person I also deeply care about, I like to say it to the person and not to someone else about that person. So with that in mind, I recently told Richard on a tweet that I admire and respect him hugely and that my rants do not seek confrontation or antagonism for the sake of it, but simply reflection In an ideal world, it would be wonderful to have the chance to hear his feedback, not personally to me but to those fans and supporters out there who may be as puzzled and wondering the same things as I am right now.

Here it goes. Picture this: the same super talented actor who gave us a heart-wrenching, soul-searching, spell-binding rendition of John Proctor in The Crucible; the same inspiring, purposeful and inspired human being who being interviewed about what he hoped people would take away with them on having seen his performance and the play, said: “I hope our audience leave with a sense of purpose, duty and responsibility”, and who in answer to “What is the most important thing that playing Proctor has taught you?”, said “That truth may be hidden, buried, warped and discarded, but man becomes closer to “His God” when he fights for that truth, even at the cost of his own life. The courage to die for the truth”; the same man who in answer to “What aspects of society/culture do you think The Crucible best speaks to today?” said: “It speaks of prejudice and persecution and any society which has permitted its government to legislate in favour of such denial of human rights, be it race, gender, religion, sexual preference and political orientation”, and still the same man who when asked “What do you hope the audience will be left contemplating after the performance?” answered with these wonderfully inspiring words: “I hope our audience leave with a sense of purpose, duty and responsibility… That they are at one with their mortality and that they believe in love.” Wow, I have goose-bumps all over even now. To hear an individual of his current popularity with the platform and the following he enjoys, speak in those terms, with such clarity, courage and determination, is for me almost as powerful and ground-breaking as watching Martin Luther King deliver his “I have a dream..” speech. It’s a breath of much needed fresh air in a world ruled by Mammon, greed, the obsession and glorification of evil, violence and a sense of entitlement to immediate gratification for everything, in every circumstance, even when we don’t deserve any.

When I read those words for the first time I was set alight; my own ongoing search for truth, not just spiritual but for all aspects of our existence, was rekindled instantly with an incredible might. I thought at the time: “that’s exactly the clarity of thought and purpose I want to have in my own life, in my own journey. This guy is on a quest, a worthy quest; he is onto something. He has great leadership qualities which are clearly manifested in the roles he likes to play and in the fact that he is often drawn to those roles. There is a heroic quality about him, a courage, a boldness. He knows where he is going and how to best get there. I’m in for the long haul, I thought.

Many people go about life totally clueless, surviving from one day to the next, purposeless, enjoying life’s pleasures and the good turns life throws at them, but not really preparing for the bad ones or even having an ounce of consciousness about the fact that whether we like it or not, we all carry a responsibility in how we live and of what we do with our time, our gifts and our resources. If not for anyone else, we owe it to ourselves to honour the life we’ve been given and to try to develop our potential to its maximum, try to do something meaningful with how little or how much we may have. I want my life to mean something, to leave something beautiful and good behind. I want the immediate world that I engaged with whilst alive to be a better place when I’m gone, because I was there and did something to better it. I don’t see much point in living otherwise, quite frankly.

Here is an actor whose journey does not appear to be dictated or ruled by what sells, what provides fame and fortune, what brings popularity and the magic formula to limitless open doors that lead to where one wants to go, whatever that may be. We all have to make a living, but in my opinion it has always transpired that for Richard Armitage his freedom when it comes to choosing a role is not coerced by the potential to become wealthy or by sacrificing, supressing what is in his heart, in his dreams in order to comply with the accepted trends and unending pressures within the Entertainment Industry.

During The Crucible he often spoke of being drawn powerfully to the role of John Proctor because it offered a first-hand experience of an “Ascend of the Soul”, of living, if only for an instant, what it’s like to have the courage and honesty to rise to the best one can be when everything and everyone is against us and puts us in a corner, where we either succumb to their wishes or we die battling for the truth.

Richard has said in the past that choosing a particular role stemmed from his passion for the written word, not any written word but a particular piece of literature, a beautiful piece of literature, one that when you are exposed to its power, it helps you fly to heights which you never knew existed; it allows you to feel lofty, honourable, wonderful emotions you never thought worthy or capable of feeling, it takes you to a dimension we rarely break into in our daily grind, whatever that may be for different people, but that beautifully written word, just as the two sides of a coin, also has the potential to take you to depths and crevasses you suspect exist but will always go out of your way to avoid, even if in your gut, you know life has a habit of throwing us one or two curve balls along the way, so you’d better face them at least in your mind, if nowhere else, so that you are somehow prepared for what may hit you as you journey on.

So summing up, here we have an actor who shows great resolve, composure and intelligence when choosing his roles and also shows that it is he who is in control of his career’s trajectory and not the industry which dictates where to next get the big bucks from or what to do in order to get that elusive role which is coveted by all the best known actors and for which many will do almost anything. Here we have a man who clearly sees acting as not only the ability to entertain others, but also as artistry and as such he always seems to carefully search for that next role which will challenge him that extra notch to what he previously did; an actor who does not shy away from new mammoth challenging roles where he has to abandon the land of the living, if only for a while, in order to get into character and truly get into its “skin”, to the point where it is no longer the actor we see in the character, but the character becomes an entity in its own right, it acquires life of its own, and the capacity to live in our minds and hearts indefinitely.

How far in that quest for challenging oneself however, how deep into those unknown crevasses of the human soul is anyone prepared to go to prove their worth and capabilities as an actor, before the line between what is fiction and what is reality becomes blurry or even non-existent? And more worryingly, what if some of those watching do not have the maturity, experience, support network, discernment and mental balance and strength to not let certain topics, visual images and scenes get so deep into their psyche that what was meant as entertainment slowly but surely develops into a time bomb of potential crime and violence? How far does one need to go to prove his worth to himself first and foremost and then the world before the “ascend or descend of the soul” is no longer the primary focus, purpose or message in that portrayal; where it is no longer the “what” that matters in a film or TV program but the “how”, where it becomes primarily about the entertainment and shock value and very little about the exploration, interpretation and study of a literary character or the human psyche, heart, soul and spirit, about the lessons we can draw and learn from from a particular film or play? After all, isn’t what we see on a stage and on the screen designed to take us to familiar but also unknown places, to makes us feel exhilarating and powerful emotions, to transport us from our reality into the world of our “what ifs”? Where do we draw the line between entertainment and feeding our extremely real and potentially very dangerous obsession with Evil and how Evil can take over a person’s heart, soul and spirit and turn them into monsters? Why explore with such audacity, perseverance and intensity a genre that homes in on EVIL, when all one has to do is turn on the News to get more than a handful of horror, barbarism and savagery?

To be concluded in Part 3


Add yours

  1. I hope that there were many others who were stirred by the “Crucible” just like you, but if not, maybe your stirring is enough to change people’s lives. Maybe you were the main person God wanted to get.

    1. Thanks Larry! I know there were many others stirred in the same manner by The Crucible. I have read tons of people’s reviews and personal feedback for the last 5 months. The question is who will do something with what they saw that day? Who will act on it or who will simply just let it sink into their memory as just another piece of brilliant entertainment?

  2. Looking forward to seeing where you are taking this! 🙂 I’ve often wondered how an actor/actress who professes Christ can seemingly take on roles that contradict the teachings of Jesus and still feel good about their testimony.

    1. Hi Mark,

      Thank you so much for your comment. I just wanted to clarify at this point that as far as I am aware Richard Armitage has never professed Christ or any other religious belief for that matter. What I write are my own deductions solely from what he has repeatedly said on interviews about his work and his personality. I am not trying to give this a religious slant or attribute to him a faith he may or may not have. That’s for him to know and for us to respect. It is not so much about that as it is about how sometimes we can be so contradictory in what we say and then what we go on to do. This is true for all of us because of our human nature, but I feel those in the public eye and often held up as role models by thousands of people have an extra huge responsibility to keep a close eye on that side of things and to be consistent in that area as well as everything else.

  3. You have left us much to think about. I need this to settle in. My first reaction however is…I think, if we can, watch and sees what Richard brings to this new role. I haven’t read the book yet, but I have read about it. From what I gather, the character is pretty complex; not just a ‘monster’. ….I still have faith that RA will find something worthwhile to illuminate for us. If nothing else, he certainly has many of us thinking about many things since the news of this new role; which is a good thing.

  4. Hi Sparkhouse1
    I would love to know your name. Interesting you go under the name Sparkhouse when the title of my post speaks of our spark potentially disappearing into oblivion. So glad you came back and gave me your feedback. It is much appreciated.
    I have no doubt that the character Richard will play is complex and with plenty of scope for him to take it to very interesting places. I will never put his talent and ability into question. He is an intelligent guy and he would have thought his choice through and through. Nevertheless, I shall not be watching this new Hannibal series to find out how talented he is. I know that already. My reasons for refusing to watch this program, even though I know Richard will be in it, to come in my next post.
    Thanks again for coming back

  5. My name is Heather. I live in Toronto, Ontario. I certainly understand and relate to why one would not want to watch this show, even episodes with RA in them, for many reasons. I also wonder about potentially finding humanity in such a character as this (RA expressing finding good in the bad and vice versa when building a character). Whether it is right or wrong. Or does it serve the greater good to try and understand how someone becomes so evil? Whether there is any humanity at all in such a character. But, what is light without dark, laughter without tears. Can you know true happiness without experiencing despair? Your thoughts and feelings after having seen The Crucible were interesting to me. When I was younger, in my teens and early twenties, I remember what it was like to be outspoken about injustice and intolerance and wanting to fight for what is right and feeling somewhat invincible. Then, as the years go on and with the daily grind of work and marriage and raising children the world seemed to shrink and that need to be a part of something bigger to effect change seems to have gotten lost. I am looking forward to your Part 3.

  6. I tend to agree with comments made by sparkhouse1, there is a lot of questions your asking which eventually we may get a few answered when he does some interviews, I know I am reading the book now and have gotten past where I’d never gotten past before but the initial part of this book is quite disturbing and although I haven’t seen any of Hannibal I will eventually get to see it no doubt will be watching through the fingers, I can only assume he has taken the roll as a challenge given he himself has admitted to not really liking the idea of horror but will be interested to see if he can find “good” in this character as he has said he would try and do if playing this kind of character, I can only hope this is not as draining as what proctor appeared to be with all the performances, I was lucky enough to see the crucible in London and I am certainly looking forward to seeing it on the big screen later in February. As much as we would all love to see him do a rom com of any description does not look like it is forth coming in the near future. I assume he has his reasons for doing the rolls I just hope he gets asked why soon in an interview.

  7. “We shouldn’t maltreat our idols: the gilt comes off on our hands.”
    Gustave Flaubert – “Madame Bovary” (1857)

    1. Dear “Maud”
      Thank you so much for getting in touch and leaving a comment. Please don’t hide behind a quote, as poignant as you may feel it is. Let me know what YOU think in YOUR own words. I can’t reply properly to you otherwise. Thanks.

  8. Not ‘Maud’. Madu. Means ‘snake’ in Estonian. Adam, Eve, apple, etc. ;oY
    That is what I think. Flaubert just said it better than anyone else ever has.

    1. Hi Madu, I apologise for misspelling you name, and thank you for enlightening me about its meaning, but I still don’t know what that quote means in relation to my post or whether it indeed has any relation to it, so unless you elaborate, we are none the wiser.

    1. Just because you don’t believe in God doesn’t mean we cant have an exchange of ideas or opinions, but it is your decision, of course. Thanks for popping by.

  9. It is so…hope-inducing to see others concerned with this as well. Sometimes I feel I’m the only one who sees what’s happening in our society, and is concerned enough to question, to spark debate. At least, I’m one of the few in my social circles.

    I’ll keep an eye on your posts, anew, and thanks for sharing them with us.

    1. Thanks Ria. I most certainly feel at times I’m the only one concerned with this. The thing is that I know I am not, but not many seem to be prepared to actually fight against it, question it, raise the alarm or simply engage in the debate. Thank you for commenting and for sticking around.

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