Staged. An Interesting Foray Into Richard’s Early Work

baby face

I have to admit, I didn’t find Richard Armitage as appealing as usual when he was a baby-faced twenty-something. Not sure if he’d have caught my eye “back when”… I guess some men really do improve with age.

So I finally got around to watching the DVD of Staged that arrived in the mail at some point a couple of months ago. Believe it or not, I do have a stack of unwatched early Richard Armitage material. You’d think that with all the time I devote to my Richarding, and having now been Richarding for about one year, I’d have long since watched this stuff, but always for one reason or another, I find myself rewatching favorites, reading blogs, playing games on the forum, and occasionally updating my own blog with this or that. But earlier this week I found myself with about 15 minutes, charts all caught up, nothing much else to do, and Staged sitting next to me. Knowing it was a very short production, I decided to pop it in and have a look at a very baby-faced Richard Armitage.

Staged Laughter

This is just a cute gif of RA as Darryl Newman, busting out in laughter. Something that made me smile. Can’t help but wonder if he’d laugh like that that looking back on his own alleged American accent in the film. =)

Overall, I don’t think my ~$25 (if I recall what I paid correctly) was necessarily worth it. The script certainly didn’t merit $25, and the performance wasn’t exactly of the caliber I’m accustomed to from Richard Armitage. If he’s embarrassed that this is “out there” (which I seem to have picked up on somewhere, but can’t recall who implied it), then I think that’s a little harsh on himself… but nonetheless, I would have to agree that it’s a bit of a sophomoric effort. Especially if that’s supposed to be an American accent. Um, if so, it was terrifically bad. I have to say, I thought his American accent in Into The Storm had a few sketchy moments, but overall was decent. If I hadn’t known he was British, I might not even have noticed anything was off. So props to RA for making a huge improvement there in the decade and a half since Staged was created. But even if that was not an early failed attempt at an American accent, there were other aspects that didn’t exactly wow me.

That being said, I did enjoy Staged simply because it offered an opportunity to see Richard Armitage when he was such a fledgling. I don’t think I’ve seen him in another black and white film, so that was interesting. I was definitely intrigued when RA’s character, Darryl Newman, spoke the lines that turned out to be, if not prophetic, then certainly somewhat of a mirror to his real life, when his counterpart, Lily, asks Darryl what caused him to want to return to the stage after a successful run as a film actor:

Darryl: You know why. It’s been 12 years since I’ve done theatre. Stage is what made me. I miss the days when I’d  pour myself into a role. One you could really sink your teeth into. You can go lost in a character for days… and it’s emotionally draining but for some insane reason I loved it. Get a kick out of really shaking people up, making them actually believe I was somebody else.

Lily: You like to keep your true nature hidden, don’t you?

Darryl: People see what they want to see. Trouble is once you become a commodity, you have to play into people’s fantasies of who they think you are. Unfortunately after a while they stop taking you seriously as an actor.

jptheatre

Richard Armitage as John Proctor in the critically acclaimed production of The Crucible, Old Vic Theatre, London 2014

IMAG0789

Himself looking a bit exhausted when I met him the second time at the Stage Door in London. Exhausted, emotionally drained, but satisfied, I think.

I can’t help but notice that Armitage really has wanted to “return to his roots” and recently, after 12 years onscreen, did exactly that with his phenomenal debut as the leading character with The Crucible… while unlike Darryl, I don’t think that the stage was originally “the making” of Armitage- (I’d argue that North and South was “the making” of Armitage)- it is true that he did start out there, and upon his return to the stage, he most certainly did “pour himself into the role” of John Proctor, and was rewarded with critical acclaim and even an Olivier nomination for his efforts. One can’t look at the many stage door photos toward the end of that run and not feel that the process was draining for him, as he looked increasingly haggard and exhausted, and I think most would agree, too, that he really shook people up in the process. So in that sense, Darryl’s words did in the end rather eerily forecast Armitage’s career in real life.

berlinpremiere

Richard Armitage, circa 2013 Berlin Premiere of DOS. Definitly looking like a hot commodity here. And see what I mean? He’s like a fine wine. Improved immeasurably with age. (Photo found on Something About Love!)

I have to wonder how much the second line from the script above also might echo reality for Richard Armitage. He’s inarguably now entering a stage in his career when he’s something of a commodity, and I think some of the debates that rage in the fandom more often than not stem from the very problem Darryl muses about… how much does he feel he has to play into people’s fantasies of who they think he is? I know it comes with the territory, but I’d imagine it’s not always easy, living up to expectations. And I have to wonder if he ever feels like he’s not taken seriously, (*coughs* thinking of my own Nipplegate Spoof) despite his recent success leading The Crucible. Well, RA, you’ll just have to knuckle down and do another play. Wow everyone again. I’ll try not to look at your nipple next time.

 

 

moles2

I’m afraid I wasn’t swept away by the passion in this scene. I was instead captivated by Richard’s former moles.

moles1

We see here how nicely Richard has filled out, and we don’t see the same moles from circa 1999. I think that’s a scar on his right deltoid muscle. Either that, or the mole has lost pigment and flattened quite a bit….

Speaking of nipples, Staged did offer another opportunity to ogle a much younger Richard Armitage in bare chest mode. I’m happy to report that he’s filled out nicely and put on some impressive muscle since then, but he was nevertheless attractive even when he was more of a bean pole. Some other important considerations that viewing Staged has created for me: did Richard Armitage have some moles removed since then, or do his new muscles just distract me? I had to have a look, and yes, I do believe he’s had some of his moles removed since then, though he hasn’t had them all removed. I think the rather prominent mole on his right deltoid area has been removed, but left a little scar. And those on the right trapezius area have also disappeared even as the muscle has notably developed.

staged kiss

Kiss approach circa 1999…

Kiss 1

Kiss approach circa 2004…

Right. So, moving along… I did notice one other interesting thing about Richard’s performance as Darryl Newman. I couldn’t help but notice that his “approach” as he went in for a kiss with his ex-wife, who we are supposed to understand he still carries a torch for, was really rather similar to his “approach” as he gazed at Margaret as John Thornton in North and South. Check out the tender gaze, the blinking eyes… the little eyebrow lift. I have to say the addition of that very eloquent and gentle hand on Margaret’s face was an inspired improvement, but Darryl’s approach was really quite well done.

That’s about all I have to say regarding Staged. It was enlightening. He’s put on muscle. He’s lost some moles. He’s matured both in appearance and in his performance. All in all- I’m glad I watched it, but probably won’t spend much time on it in the future.

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23 comments

  1. Guylty · April 16, 2015

    Loved reading your review, J, and very much enjoyed your gifs. You really have a knack for choosing the really good scenes. And you seem to be totally hooked on it, too 😀 – hope that will continue.
    As for Staged – yeah, well, I was not sorry that I hadn’t forked out for it. That’s not meant as disrespect towards writer/director Denison or the actors. It’s just that this is clearly a *very early* early work by them. The story was too packed and yet lacking strangely in conviction and coherence. And the actors seemed to be too young for the characters they were playing. When it comes to the accent, I am not a good judge (not familiar enough with AE) – in fact it never really occurred to me that he *was* speaking English with an American accent. Ooops. I think it is safe to say that the preformance was not as nuanced as it is nowadays, but well, he was still learning at that time. And maybe I didn’t pay proper attention. I had to laugh at your post because I got slightly side-tracked by the mole situation, too. (Good decision on “cleaning” those up – not even in terms of aesthetics but because I found them distracting.) And hell yeah, mature RA is better looking than young RA – although I would’ve been big into baby faces at that time. But he’s grown into the angles of his body, and they suit him well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jholland · April 17, 2015

      LOL- well, as an American English speaker, it wasn’t clear to me either if it was supposed to be an American accent. Only the first minute or so of dialogue was even remotely close, which is why I say “alleged American accent”… it’s entirely possible that it’s all in the imagination. =)
      RE: moles… nothing wrong with moles… makes him all the more human. A few are definitely gone, but of course whether that was done for aesthetic purposes or upon doctor’s recommendation would be entirely speculation. I just found myself amused that I was paying more attention to the moles than anything else after the shirt came off. Bad fan! LOL

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  2. obscura · April 16, 2015

    I really do need to sit down and take a look at this…bad fan that I am, I haven’t opened it even though it was gifted to me quite awhile ago. (you aren’t the only one with a few views to catch up on!)

    Like

    • jholland · April 17, 2015

      Sitting here looking at “Frozen”, “The Impressionists”, “Shakespeare Retold” and “George Gently”… someday. I created a new blog category for the early works… we’ll see what happens. But don’t anyone hold their breath. LOL

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  3. Perry · April 16, 2015

    I enjoyed reading this. My theory is that the actors were trying to use an American accent ( in his case, I think Southern) when they were rehearsing the play, but that they were British when they were out of character. It doesn’t completely hold up and I agree, his accent was terrible, but hers was better. I’m also in your camp in that I agree that the youngest Armitage is not that physically appealing to me – I felt the same about Between the Sheets – though there, it might have been the haircut, alone.
    As to the moles, LOL – be careful with this group ( I mean fans, not moles). Some fans ( not me, for sure) don;t like it when we point out imperfections -and to some fans, removing or correcting the imperfections is an even greater sin. (Teeth, nose, maybe plugs in the future, though I doubt it). But we do like to look closely. I recall discussions ( one of which I started, but late in the game) about the light color of his armpit hair in Strike Back.
    All in all, though, another good read from you.

    Like

    • jholland · April 17, 2015

      Thanks, Perry. Well, I’m afraid that the study of moles (and lack thereof) is a natural part of my PreoccupationWithArmitage… and yes, I’ve picked up on the past controversies about the teeth and nose. It didn’t occur to me that the moles might be off limits in terms of discussion, but of course they must be in some circles. So… I apologize now for my mole radar if it’s disrupted anyone’s day. Really. Hey… I could do a spoof on that…

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      • Perry · April 17, 2015

        Didn’t bother me a bit. He has at least one remaining mole of which I am quite fond. Maybe he didn’t realize right off the bat how often he would be bareback.

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        • jholland · April 17, 2015

          Right. Well, I won’t speak for anyone else, but the more often, the better. And yes, he does have a couple of very charming moles remaining. May they be observed repeatedly for many years to come.

          Like

  4. linnetmoss · April 17, 2015

    This is fascinating to me. As a fan I am obsessive about tracking down (to the best of my ability) every bit of juvenilia from my guy. I want to see it all and preferably to own it all. It’s partly the collector/archivist/scholar in me, and partly just a fascination with his personal history. These early experiences are what shape an actor. Still I could not agree more that (certain) men improve with age. Ciarán Hinds really didn’t hit the peak of his beauty until he was in his forties. But I like to see him at every age.

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    • jholland · April 17, 2015

      Oh, yes. Definitely some men who peak in beauty in the 20’s and 30’s then go sadly downhill. Others, though… =) Lucky me, my Hubby is in the latter category. He’s better looking than ever in his 40’s. Wish I could say the same for myself.

      Liked by 1 person

      • linnetmoss · April 18, 2015

        I think it is the more androgynous, boyish men who go downhill in looks as they age. The “manly” physiognomy fares better. Maybe that explains why female good looks are less durable and do not usually evolve the way men’s do. I appreciate an older face, but we do not see many in popular culture. It makes me laugh to see fashion magazines with 20 year old models carrying super-expensive handbags and wearing couture garments, when the group of women who have the means to purchase these items is on average about 30 years older…

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        • jholland · April 18, 2015

          That is a fascinating observation, but yes, I think it’s true. Sometimes a really prominent nose or more rough features that may make a boy in high school look average, can in later years look absolutely gorgeous. I’ve noticed this on facebook- some of the boys I remember as basically homely have grown into really striking men, while some of the boys I remember were so pretty to look at haven’t fared nearly as well. This makes me so wish I could find this one guy I remember from my freshman year who moved away. I had a crush on him because he was so smart and so funny and so nice when we worked on a class project for history class together- but he was not in any way handsome at the time and my friends thought I was crazy for wishing he’d ask me out. I’d just like to see how Tomas turned out. So curious!

          Liked by 1 person

        • linnetmoss · April 19, 2015

          Oh yes, there is a kind of cosmic justice in the fact that people who were very popular in high school are not necessarily the most admired once we get older. Having been a misfit as a young person, I really savor that 🙂

          Like

        • jholland · April 19, 2015

          Yes, I can relate. I was never in the “in” crowd either.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Servetus · April 17, 2015

    re: potential embarrassment, here’s the reference and analysis. http://meandrichard.wordpress.com/2013/07/03/finally-link-to-richard-armitages-statement-about-a-student-film-staged/ I agree they were trying to sound American while rehearsing and speaking as Brits while themselves.

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    • jholland · April 17, 2015

      Thanks, Serv. Interesting article. Cringe-worthy story about him attempting to shake some director’s hand at an audition and getting shamed for it. How rude. But back to the piece of work he was ashamed of-
      I agree, it could be Staged. All the criteria could fit, including the soft porn reference. LOL. Still… if there was yet another student film floating around with more of the same, no doubt I’d fork out for that too, even knowing he’s a much hotter commodity at present that he could have possibly been as a student. It’s actually rather nice to see that while yes, he has natural talent, he has worked hard to achieve his current level of brilliance and wasn’t necessarily perfect from the get-go. =)

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Servetus · April 18, 2015

    Oh, I’d totally pay to see everything he’s ever been in — I suppose anyway that I am a teacher so I am accustomed to looking at work that’s less than perfect.

    Given that he’s always been positive (even in retrospect) about things he’s been in, I wonder if he thought that film was unlikely to surface again so it was okay to say he wasn’t thrilled about how it turned out. The appearance of Darren Denison in the fandom clinging to the coattails of Richard Armitage has been a phenomenon I have watched with no little amusement.

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    • jholland · April 18, 2015

      Perhaps. He’s the last person to be likely to insult anyone other than himself. Plus, they did ask the question. He had to come up with something. He was wise not to name it specifically. =) Seems a lot of folks are figuring out that the Armitage fandom is a goldmine.

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      • Servetus · April 18, 2015

        There’s also this weird effect that I didn’t understand but now that I’ve been through it a few times — there’s this ongoing influx of fans who are not aware of stuff that has happened in the past and then they get all excited about something — so on that basis, he’s enjoyed by my count about 3 waves of notice and each has been slightly different.

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        • jholland · April 19, 2015

          Makes you wonder if he was serious when he said the latest availability would be the “last time” or if it was a marketing scheme. Guess time will tell.

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        • Servetus · April 19, 2015

          re: latest availability — yes, this is the second time he’s said that. Cough.

          Like

  7. Hariclea · April 18, 2015

    Very interesting and thanks for the thoughts, including on the moles 😉 I get this a lot with singers, you hear early performances and sort of guess the later , more mature one in what you hear and i like to hear young ones all the time and lind of guess and marvel at the potential. You mostly gain good things with age in many cases but sometimes you also loose a bit of light-heartedness and enthusiasm and idealism 🙂 Trade off i guess 🙂 for actors i thing the gain in experience is a great asset and a natural evolution.

    It is interesting looking at his features how many of the ones that are so recognisable for him were already there but strangely it is almost as if they have realigned themselves or something into a much more striking end result. Mind you i think id this was colour it might be slightly different b/w softens the features even more. I liked his eyes, shape of nose and mouth even in those younger pictures. It is just that the expression of the face today is more assured, more certain about what it wants to say or hide 🙂

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    • jholland · April 19, 2015

      Yes, it’s fascinating to study those early images and to see some of those mannerisms he uses in his acting in their early/rough form. A couple of the lines he delivered weren’t convincing to me- partly the script was unconvincing, and partly the delivery. But there were other times when you could see the rough outlines of things he has done more recently, and know that he would go on to hone those. It’s really quite remarkable how much he’s improved in his craft. I do think he’s grown into his looks, or perhaps it’s some indefinable quality, like you’ve suggested… self confidence/assurance is attractive.

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