A few days ago, RAFrenzy had this idea about a flash fan event, on the subject of how we came to be in the Richard Armitage fandom. There are as many reasons to why we’ve become fans as there are fans, and we all came in at different points. Whether it’s all the way back from North & South, or as recently as The Hobbit, there is always something which has drawn each and every one of us in, and it’s not just about looks …
For me, I hadn’t seen North & South until I had already noticed Richard Armitage elsewhere – namely as Guy of Gisborne in BBC’s Robin Hood.
Let’s backtrack a little here. I’m not from ’round ‘ere, so before I moved to the UK, all I knew about Nottingham was synonymous with the legend of Robin Hood, and Robin Hood is probably my favourite classic Disney film (strangely, I much prefer the Swedish voice actors over the original). As life turned out, this Maid Marian found her Robin Hood in Nottingham, and ended up moving there in 2004. So, with this in mind, when the BBC series premiered we were basically guaranteed viewers.
Unfortunately, the series was incredibly flawed. The costumes were completely off and Robin Hood, the hero we’re supposed to root for, was nothing short of an unsympathetic bully. On the plus side, Sheriff Vasey was hilarious and his henchman Gisborne made for nice eyecandy, but that was about it. I think we saw the entire first series, because we had nothing better to do early Saturday evenings anyway, but series two was mostly left alone. Why bother, you know?
Spooks, a show I saw the first series of back in Sweden once upon a time but not since, had a new star in series seven, but as I didn’t really care, and didn’t follow it, I only saw a brief glimpse. My thoughts were along the lines of “hey, it’s Gisborne! … A very skinny one at that. … Meh, I prefer him as Gisborne.”
When series three of Robin Hood came around, the Squeeze (that’s how I refer to my husband on this blog, btw) couldn’t care less. I, on the other hand, was determined to see all of it because Toby Stephens had been announced as Prince John in the media, and according to IMDb at the time, he would be in all of the episodes. Prince John is of course the delightfully unhinged lion in the Disney film, and they’ve put Mr Rochester in this role. Let’s just say I was more than motivated to
suffer through watch series three. 😉
Toby Stephens wasn’t in the first episode, as it happened, but I didn’t expect I’d be wanting to watch the rest of the series anyway. Or that I would go “I HAVE TO WATCH ALL OF THIS” from the first few minutes of episode one. Because of a greasy-haired Gisborne.
The reasoning behind this was that a greasy-haired Gisborne looked pretty much exactly like professor Snape is described in the Harry Potter books, and as a big Harry Potter fan, any similarity to a character can strangely only count in your favour. And then all this angst! Let’s just say I was hooked.
There’s more to it than that. Having roleplayed online (in a Harry Potter setting) for almost ten years, whenever I come across an actor who fits the description of one of my characters, I instantly take a shine to them. The “HEY, THAT LOOKS LIKE SNAPE!” took about two seconds to transform into “OMFG IT’S TOTALLY MY DARLING EDGAR!!!” (who is not entirely unlike Snape – and Mr Rochester – but my description is more flattering, and besides, he’s in Divination, not Potions.) I had previously toyed with the idea of that particular professor looking a bit like Armitage, but I wasn’t entirely sure. Gisborne in s3 was the clincher. That was EXACTLY as I had pictured my character, right there, brought to life by RA.
And let’s face it, getting to picture Richard Armitage when writing one half of an epic love story is a pretty sweet deal. 😉
Whenever I find someone who matches one of my characters, I do tend to geek out over that actor and want to see more stuff they’ve been in. They sure weren’t wrong about North & South, it was just as great as people online said – and it introduced me to Brendan Coyle as a bonus! Reading interviews with RA and his messages to fans, well, that just meant I went from loving the actor because I saw him as my character to actually loving RA because he’s a great person and a great actor.
So that’s my story. What’s yours? 🙂
P.S. Oh, and Toby Stephens as Prince John? BRILLIANT. Totally exceeded my expectations! 😀
P.P.S. Before fandom struck, I went to see the BBC Robin Hood exhibition at Nottingham Castle, because I was showing a friend around town, we got to the castle, and it happened to be on. There was a poster with a life-sized Gisborne there. It might have set my heart aflutter a little bit. Just a shame I wasn’t interested in the series at the time, so didn’t bother taking any photos, despite having a camera with me. D’oh.