What is it about certain actors that cause me to pursue them and follow their careers, while others pass me by or get left along the roadside? this is something I think about from time to time because the actors I follow do tend to have certain things in common, yet they can be very different at the same time.
the way I initially become interested in an actor can differ. I may take notice of them after several projects or it may only be one that causes me to want to know more about them. in the case of Richard it was the latter, when I saw him in The Hobbit: an unexpected journey. it was his expressive eyes, his commanding stance, his soothing voice, and how he made me pay more attention to what was going on inside the character, that reeled me in to him.
sometimes it’s the depiction of a true story, or a certain period of history, career, geographical location, etc. that peaks my interest and sends me off to find out more. the behind-the-scenes features and promotional interviews are vastly interesting to me and helpful in this regard. through the viewing of these, I might find something about the actors themselves that sparks my interest, whether that be personality traits, knowledge about the subject, or just general “off-screen” appearance. then it becomes a dual interest that sends me off in all different directions.
that’s what happened to me this past week with the movie Unbroken and it’s lead actor, Jack O’Connell. I have a fondness for movies that center around hope and the human spirit. this true story definitely fit the bill for that, along with it’s subjects of World War II (which I’ve always had a fascination with) and the sport of running (which my son is currently involved in). I was particularly impressed with Jack’s mastery of an American accent and the respect he held for the story itself, as well as the art of acting in general (his playful cheekiness didn’t hurt either). how long will he hold my interest though?
several years ago when I first watched the movie Atonement with James McAvoy, I followed a similar path. I became curious about the battle of Dunkirk, which played a part in the story, along with James himself. his real life accent instantly hooked me and I found his general demeanor very likable, so I followed his career for awhile. I still enjoy James when I see him in movies but I never quite reached that level of curiosity that caused me to delve into the man behind the actor- he doesn’t have that special something, the umf! that reaches out and grabs me. no offense to James, of course. there have been many that I’ve taken an interest in that didn’t end up panning out in the end: Bradley Cooper, Gerard Butler, Sam Heughan, Peter Facinelli, Eddie Redmayne, just to name a few.
when I was younger it was the movie Young Guns and the wild west that held my interest in this way, which eventually came back around to Christian Bale in his 3:10 to Yuma role. I first became aware of Christian because of the WWII drama, Empire of the Sun, which is what started my WWII interest at the age of 13. this led to another WWII related movie of his, Swing Kids, that introduced me to that era’s music when I was 19. I love when movies spark my interest in a subject I’d never paid much attention to before, and the trickle-down effect of books, music, etc. that following actors and their fandoms can bring.
I’ve always enjoyed war/military movies in general. Richard doesn’t share the WWII aspect specifically, but John Porter fits the military connection. Thorin embodies the “when the going gets tough, the tough get going” attitude rather well too. I used to think that redemption was the theme that ran through my interest in Richard’s characters, but lately I’ve pondered whether it’s not the act of lying instead- lying to others, lying to ourselves.
what first impressed me about Richard in the promotional interviews for AUJ was his grasp of the subject matter. he was very well versed in Tolkien lore and the ramifications that surrounded that character. an actor that takes the time to research his role and really tries to understand it, will always impress me. the more I watched/read about Richard, the more I noticed how different from the character of Thorin he was off-screen. I think that’s the thing that intrigues me the most, when I’m able to see the depth an actor gives his characters through details of voice, body language,etc. in comparison to their real life self. “ohhh..he was just acting!” Christian Bale isn’t actually a serial killer and neither is Richard Armitage, or Jamie Dornan for that matter…uh oh, I hope “serial killer” is not an emerging theme of my admiration. someone put Richard in a bomber jacket, quick!
what connections can you make between Richard and your other interests? if you follow the careers of other actors, what do they share in common with Richard?