I’m a woman who likes brooding men in cravats, so it’s not surprising that I enjoyed North and South, but I really really liked it – to the point that it rivaled my passion for the 1995 Pride and Prejudice.
I watched all four hours of North and South four times in the first week. I remember sneaking it in while I was folding laundry, etc., hoping that no one else in the family would realize how often I was watching it. I couldn’t get enough – and the main reason was Richard Armitage and his portrayal of John Thornton.
Richard Armitage is an attractive man, but I didn’t think he was all that handsome until episode 3, when he told his mother that Margaret refused his marriage proposal. At that moment, he became fascinatingly beautiful to me, and he has remained fascinating for eight years. But why do I still like him so much?
I’ve thought about that this past week as others have posted their “I Saw Something Fine” posts on the Richard Armitage Flash Fan Event.
He is fascinating because his portrayal of male thought and emotion is so complex. With his micro expressions, he makes his characters seem real. He makes me feel their pain, their fear, their joy. The good characters have hints of bad, and the bad characters have hints of good. I find myself caring about them, even when I don’t always like them or the choices they make. (I still don’t understand the end of Robin Hood Season 2. Personally I think Gisborne should have drugged Marion and forced her to marry him. That would have made an interesting Season 3, but since I write quirky sweet romances rather than fanfic, I don’t think it’s going to show up as a subplot.)
But it isn’t just his technical skills that make Richard so compelling. I have admired the acting style of other actors and not followed their careers so closely. With Richard, I read and watched his interviews and found I liked the man behind the roles. He cares about his craft and takes his work seriously. Over time, I’ve enjoyed his cheerful good humor, his politeness and respect for others. He seems like the kind of guy who would be fun to work with, a good friend, and ultimately, good to fall in love with. (As a very happily married woman, I wish him all the best in that department).
In some ways, he reminds me of Jimmy Stewart. Whenever I see a photograph of Jimmy Stewart, I smile because I like the man and the actor. It’s the same with Richard Armitage. I hope he has a long and happy career, making many more movies and television shows.
And if he could narrate a few more books, I’d appreciate that, too. I could write another essay on “I Heard Something Fine.”