Richard Armitage

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Name: Richard Armitage
Also Known As: RA
Occupation: actor
Medium: television, film
Works: Sparkhouse, North and South, Robin Hood (BBC 2006), Vicar of Dibley, Spooks, Strike Back, Captain America: The First Avenger, The Hobbit (film series), Hannibal
Official Website(s): no site, Wikipedia
Fan Website(s): RichardArmitageNet, RichardArmitageOnline, Richard Armitage Central & many others
On Fanlore: Related pages

Richard Armitage is an English actor who came to prominence in 2004 playing John Thornton in the BBC adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell's industrial novel, North and South. His performance has been compared with Colin Firth's iconic portrayal of Darcy.[1] He subsequently played Guy of Gisborne in Robin Hood—a black leather-wearing bad boy who broadened Armitage's appeal—and spy Lucas North in Spooks. His most recent role is Thorin Oakenshield in The Hobbit film trilogy.

Fannish Response

Although Armitage originally appealed mainly to fans of costume dramas, many early fans have followed his career into other genres. Some, however, are more critical of the direction his post-N&S career has taken towards action roles and his perceived willingness to take any part offered, regardless of quality.[2][3]

Fans on Armitage's Appeal

His face tells a story, and I respect that he applies artistry to achieve this. As someone who makes it a business to convey messages with pictures, I was immediately drawn to that, and it's such a pleasure to highlight it and in some ways make it richer in a fan video. (Heathra/HeathDances)[4]
...his expressions are so amazing... (Joane/jos2507)[5]
...this facet in his acting—the question of how he mobilizes the emotional / physical, or ... how he "leads with his emotions." This practice—the fact that we almost always guess how his character feels before we know what he thinks or will say—is a huge theme in his acting for me, and, I think, a significant piece of why Mr. Thornton kept me exclusively mesmerized for so long. (Servetus)[6] is the layers and details he adds to his characters. I have a severe to profound hearing loss and his voice, which many of his fans love, passes over my head. I have to look at the physicality of his acting and it is different in every role. But significantly he always leaves me wanting more and so that is how he has inspired me. I continue each character's story. (Khandy)[7]
This man is not playing at being an actor; he's the real deal. He works hard at using his God-given talents. Both on screen and in audio, he's created characters that we want to get to know (even when they're either morally dubious or downright nasty). We're drawn into the characters' worlds and either care or, at the very least, wonder about their lives beyond the confines of the story. For an actor to make me feel that way is quite some feat. (Amanda Jane)[8]

On Particular Roles

John Thornton:

...I would suspect that N&S will definitely be regarded as iconic, certainly for its genre. I cannot think of another actor with the capacity to present a Thornton of the same quality. Others may take the role, but as Colin Firth gave us the quintessential Darcy, Richard Armitage has offered audiences the quintessential Thornton. (fitzg)[9]
...the tea scene captured my fascination. RA's ability to say so much while making only slight head and eye movements effectively slowed me down to ponder that scene in a way that I often don't when watching movies. I wanted to savor the characters and didn't want it to end. I've experienced that many times with books but seldom with movies. (bZirk)[10]
...even if I had watched N&S with the sound turned off; Armitage's performance was so exquisitely articulate I could have transcribed pages of dialogue and backstory just from studying his face. But if I watched with the sound turned off, I would have missed the most arresting screen voice since Orson Welles, and the dreamiest since Ronald Coleman... (Danusha Goska)[11]

Guy of Gisborne:

...this was a very strong and individualistic performance. And I'm not enlarging on the sensuality of the presentation. It's there, as a force of nature. Gisborne did come to dominate the series. (fitzg)[9]
It was a tour de force and no matter how cheesy it all seemed, [Armitage] saw the opportunity to show a vast range of emotion and behaviour, rather operatic at times. Such a breathtaking role and yet, for me, apart from the aesthetic, a true character study and evolution, hidden behind and in spite of a mask of leather and guyliner. I love the actor's willful and creative defiance of the role. (Pi)[12]

Thorin Oakenshield:

Richard Armitage portrays this bitterness, and also the typical stubbornness of dwarves, to an extent that goes beyond the human. He totally blew me away! (ArchedCory)[13]

Criticism is not entirely unreasonable to conclude that Richard Armitage is starting to look like someone who wants to do action roles and projects that fall under the rubric of “entertainment,” instead of the actor that the fans who used their computers to catapult him to public attention in 2004 thought he was: a dramatic artist with the potential to become the next great interpreter of Shakespeare—or at the very least, an ongoing competitor worthy of Colin Firth for favorite period drama lead. (Servetus)[3]
It's really hard to get a grip on what [Armitage] really wants. I do know that ideally he wants the smart stuff. Yet he seems to pursue the 'anything goes' stuff. (Pi)[2]
There is a distinct gap between what [Armitage] talks about in interviews, how he prepares for his roles and what he would like to do in the future, and what he actually does. His choices are the choices of a "TV-worker" not an artist. ... The sad fact is, so far he has not made a name of himself as a serious character actor. (Anonymous)[2]

Fan Activities

Fans are often referred to as the "Armitage Army" after one of the earliest fan forums. Armitage is sometimes referred to as "RA", and fans often capitalise those letters (e.g. "cRAving", "chaRActers") in posts.

Most fannish activity over the years has involved picspam, fanart, fanvids and writing predominantly het fanfiction for his characters. There is also a lot of meta, from unapologetic squee including appreciation of the actor's crinkles[14] and chesticles,[15] to detailed analysis of, for example, how Armitage's acting uses his jaw,[16] or how Marian's death in Guy's arms in the Robin Hood S2 finale resembles Achilles and Penthesilea from Classical Mythology.[17] Discussion mainly takes place at the C19 and Armitage Army forums and across a large collection of personal blogs. Metafic in which Armitage meets fans or the reader exists, some of it adult rated. After the release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in December 2012, he has also started to appear in actor RPF on Archive of Our Own.


Many fan artists portray the actor, as well as his various roles; these include eajna (e.g. [1]), GizTheGunslinger ([2]), Joane (jos2507) ([3]), Kim1984 ([4]), MadNaduk ([5]), UniqueLegend ([6]), waxwng ([7]), Zelda T ([8]) and many others.


Vidders include bccmee, Behind Blue Eyes, Damaris, DelicateBlossom, Elvira Sweeney, GizTheGunslinger, Heather (Heathra or HeathDances), Jancis (AmberDarke), Spikesbint and many others.


Armitage is one of the most popular characters in The Hobbit RPF.[18][19][20] There is also a little RPF for the BBC Robin Hood, mainly friendship stories also featuring Lucy Griffiths.

Fan Sites

Fan Communities & Forums

The Armitage Army on YahooGroups was founded as The Richard Armitage Yahoo Group on 15 November 2004, immediately after the first episode of North and South aired in the UK, and was the first discussion group. The BBC Drama messageboard for North and South founded in December 2004 was another important early discussion forum; it went offline in February 2005.[21] Communities that still exist include:




  1. ^ me + richard armitage: My Richard Armitage: An interpretation. An excursus on identity and personality in 2004 (accessed 23 May 2013)
  2. ^ a b c Nevermind Mr Armitage: Hollywood and the Man (accessed 25 May 2013)
  3. ^ a b me + richard armitage: Mr. Armitage, his fans, our pursuit of “great art,” and me as critic, part 1 (accessed 25 May 2013)
  4. ^ RAFrenzy: Getting enough Thorin (accessed 21 May 2013)
  5. ^ DeviantArt: jos2507: Profile (accessed 21 May 2013)
  6. ^ me + richard armitage: Armitage leads with the feelings, or: How thick is Richard? A beginning. (accessed 22 May 2013)
  7. ^ flyhigh-by-learnonline: Kate Forrester, weathering the storm and continuing the story of Sparkhouse. Interview + giveaway (accessed 23 May 2013)
  8. ^ me + richard armitage: Fan showcase: Amanda Jane (accessed 24 May 2013)
  9. ^ a b me + richard armitage: fanstRAvaganza two, Day 2! (accessed 24 May 2013)
  10. ^ me + richard armitage: RA Fanstravaganza, Day 4! (accessed 24 May 2013)
  11. ^ Foolish Passion: Top Twelve Reasons "North and South" is a Ten (accessed 7 June 2013)
  12. ^ Nevermind He's Made It! Big Break or Big Ache? (accessed 25 May 2013)
  13. ^ ArchedCory. Heirs of Durin: In Defense of Fili, Kili and Thorin Oakenshield – an Appreciation Beyond Hot Dwarves (accessed 21 May 2013)
  14. ^ The Richard Armitage Dictionary: Crinkles (accessed 22 May 2013)
  15. ^ The Richard Armitage Dictionary: Chesticles (accessed 22 May 2013)
  16. ^ me + richard armitage: Armitage anatomy: or, masseter and friends (accessed 24 May 2013)
  17. ^ Ancient Armitage: Richard Armitage and Achilles – tRAgic lovers (accessed 22 May 2013)
  18. ^ The top six characters in The Hobbit (2012) RPF fandom at Archive of Our Own as of 21 May 2013 were Richard Armitage (238); Aidan Turner (232); Dean O'Gorman (231); Graham McTavish (98); James Nesbitt (70); Martin Freeman (70)
  19. ^ By August 7, 2015, the most popular characters on AO3 were Richard Armitage (750); Dean O'Gorman (678); Aidan Turner (662); Lee Pace (339); Graham McTavish (252); Adam Brown (191); James Nesbitt (164); Martin Freeman (162); Luke Evans (77); and Ian McKellen (69).
  20. ^ The most popular characters for prompts on hobbit_kink as of August 7, 2015 were Richard Amitage (1054); Aiden Turner (794); Dean O'Gorman (780); Graham McTavish (410); and Lee Pace (296).
  21. ^ a b c RichardArmitageOnline: Messages from Richard Armitage (accessed 20 May 2013)
  22. ^ me + richard armitage: fanstRAvaganza two, day 4! (accessed 24 May 2013)