Hopefully everyone has had a chance to watch the lovely UATSC Q&A panel posted by Chapel FM in which Candida Brady, Richard Armitage and Bernard Hare answered questions from first a moderator and later some audience members in what really appeared to be a relaxed and intimate setting during the premier of Urban And The Shed Crew at the Leeds International Film Festival. I saw several of you, fellow bloggers and forum members! Ever since reading a bit about it on Guylty’s first Leeds post, I was so very eager to get my hands on a transcript, but this little video really exceeded my expectations. I had no trouble hearing the questions and answers, many of which were excellent, but I will admit to being distracted a few times just watching Richard Armitage’s facial expressions, gestures, and attentive listening posture! (Had I actually been present, I think I’d have been tremendously distracted, and might not have heard or comprehended half of what was said as I stared, starstruck, at Richard….) No problem… at least in this format I could just rewind and
try to pay attention. LOL
So yeah, this was so much better than a transcript! Just having the opportunity to study RA as he listened attentively to his fellow panelists, clearly engaged, smiling, using his expressive eyebrows…
What was I saying? Oh, yes. And then there were the little blinks of his eyes. I may have become distracted watching his throat as he swallowed a time or two….
And I’m fairly sure I might have rewound a couple of times merely to relive the pleasure of moments like this. Oh, that lovely way he strokes his face! I do tend to get carried away admiring his hands! Yep, it’s probably best that I wasn’t actually in the audience that day.
I pretty much loved everything about this Q&A. Richard made a few little jokes that gave me a giggle. First, when the question was posed about how they went about casting the role of Chop (who represents Bernard Hare, author of the book), Richard quipped “Bernard said ‘a dwarf’!” Later, he (jokingly, I hope!) claimed he was “notorious for doing films without integrity”… at first I was startled by that, as when I think of RA’s films, it pretty much comes down to The Hobbit films. They may be fantasy, but the themes they explore aren’t without integrity! Into the Storm, well… it was no kind of gritty, cerebral film, and neither was The Avengers… it made me wonder whether, on some level, RA considers action adventures to be without integrity. (If so, doesn’t bode well for any RA-as-James Bond hopefuls!)
He went on to explain that when he’d read the script, what attracted him was the “realism” and the “heart and soul” and I suppose that was the point he was trying to make, and he injected that phrase “heart and soul” into the conversation again a few moments later as he spoke about Bernard Hare’s actions in the 1980’s when he immersed himself in the lives of society’s forsaken children, The Shed Crew. I thought Richard came across as so very humble here, admitting that as an actor, he’d felt privileged to witness and to immerse himself, as Chop, into that very close relationship between Hare, Urban, and the other Shed Crew members. When he pointed to the man seated next to him and said, “I’m half the man that this guy is” it really brought home Richard’s innate goodness.
Armitage also opened up a little about his family origins, and we learned that his own father had grown up in Leeds, in what sounds like relatively humble circumstances, though it was a different era and presumably the senior Mr. Armitage was not nearly so deprived as The Shed Crew. His father and two sisters did share one bed, though, and Richard gave a bit of insight into his father’s character and mindset, that you “make the best of what you’ve got”, which I found was interesting. He went on to talk more about some sort of spirit of the north, which was somewhat lost on me, but from the context I assumed that it was something he believed both his father, and Bernard Hare, represented for him. I wondered if he drew on aspects of his perception of that for both his roles of John Thornton (as representing the “North” in North and South) and Chop.
When the questions were opened up to the audience members, one clearly in-the-know audience member asked Candida how they’d convinced Richard to get into the canal, and Richard had to admit that in this case, the running joke that water scenes mysteriously seem to appear in the scripts only after he’s signed the contract, didn’t apply. I liked how he demonstrated that he’d just sort of quickly paged through all that and tried to block it from his mind as he read the script. The poor man does go through all kinds of obstacles, trying to deliver his craft!
Again we had more insight about Richard’s remarkable dedication to his roles, along with another joke, when he confessed that the fake tobacco provided for the actors didn’t meet RA’s “realism” parameters, so he and Anna Friel smuggled in real tobacco to use instead. He jokingly asked Bernard why he just had to be a smoker, and said he’d smoked so many rolled cigarettes during the filming that he’d been in terrible shape by the time the film wrapped. Then a bit of cute braggadocio as he claimed he could roll smokes with the best of them!
Another great moment in the Q&A came from Bernard Hare later, when an audience member enquired about how the real-life Urban was doing. Bernard Hare was honest about it, saying there were ups and downs, but then he shared a humorous anecdote that I like to believe was a bit of a “proud parental moment” for Bernard. He told about Urban’s involvement in building the stands and the stage for an Elton John concert several years ago, and quipped that he’d been a bit dubious when he realized that 30,000 lives were in Shed Crew hands… but he was proud to report that nobody had been injured at the concert!
There were a couple of times during the Q&A when I noticed Richard politely stepped in and answered more the question that was asked when Candida Brady got slightly “off topic”, and again, it showed what close attention he was paying to both the questions and the responses. I didn’t mind when it went off topic at least once, as I found it interesting, as a mother myself, to hear the perspective one audience member who happened to be the mother of a child actor who’d portrayed one of the Shed Crew. This was in response to a great question, by the way, though I don’t know that it really answered the question that was asked. However, it was interesting the insight it gave, as the mother described how some of the other moms in her social circle had been a bit judgmental about her decision to allow her child to take such a gritty role, one that involved a lot of cussing and explored such disturbing themes. An opportunity to have the discussion that I believe Candida Brady, Bernard Hare, and Richard all desire will be sparked by the film… a discussion that people in certain social circles may not feel comfortable having, and might rather not talk about at all, much less expose their children to!
I also appreciated how Richard expressed his own struggle with the underlying question, of how important is it to protect children in general from harsh realities versus how important is it to allow more privileged children to see and know more about the world around them. I myself struggle with this at times, as I cherish my own children’s innocence and want them to enjoy the lifestyle and opportunities that I am able to provide for them, yet also want to encourage a spirit of giving, an awareness/empathy for the troubles of others, and also an appreciation of their own many blessings. I found it endearing when Richard confessed that he was struggling a bit with whether the film would be appropriate for his own nephew (why is it delightful to imagine RA with “protective uncle” urges?). He said he’d had second thoughts himself after he’d watched the first 10 minutes of the film and remembered how many times the f-word was used… then went on to say that he’d reconsidered and realized that as a member of the next generation, his comparatively privileged nephew perhaps should begin to have some exposure to the hard truths addressed by the film.
Anyway, if you haven’t watched yet, you should definitely make the time to do so! There are a lot of gems in this Q&A, and I fully enjoyed
the ogling the content! =)