The first Richard Armitage character I became acquainted with was Thorin Oakenshield from The Hobbit: an unexpected journey. My first impressions of Thorin centered around the heavy responsibilities he carried upon his shoulders and how he seemed to wear his pride like a protective armor. I thought Thorin resisted the friendship between himself and Bilbo due to a superiority complex, and that it was less a case of accepting the friendship as becoming resigned to it. Thorin grew to respect Bilbo because he willingly subjected himself to the hardships that they all suffered along the journey, while also becoming a useful addition to the company. I still see those things in Thorin, but now I see so much more.
Prince Thorin was a protector– he was softer before the dragon came. his father and grandfather were ahead of him in line to the throne–he was expected to observe, to learn, to hone his bravery on the battlefield. there is a lightness to his being when we see the younger version of Thorin in the flashback scenes– his stance isn’t as rigid and rooted as it becomes later, and there’s almost a shyness there. Prince Thorin is capable, can jump into action and take charge, as we see when he realizes it’s a dragon that is on the wind. Thorin shouts out orders immediately and grabs Balin to save him from the first attack of fire. but there is also fear. later, Thorin will try to mask that fear with arrogance and authority, but young Thorin wears his heart on his sleeve. when the Elves turn away and refuse to help– the incredulity upon his face. Prince Thorin had a trusting heart.
After the dragon came, Thorin quickly became weighed down by responsibility, his stance changed to carry that load. his face became closed off, making the eyes stand out more than they did before. with age Thorin became more stoic, his body owning the space around him; older Thorin was solid. he no longer wore his heart on his sleeve, I would even venture a guess that he no longer believed he had one. Thorin was a leader now, a provider, and he would be damned if he let youthful fancies cloud his judgment.
Prince Thorin wasn’t gone for good though, just hiding. when the keyhole didn’t appear: the vulnerability, the defeat, the loss of purpose. the acorn scene with Bilbo: the smile that made my heart hurt and soar at the same time.
Bilbo was able to reach the young Prince that was still inside of Thorin. the friendship that grew between them was the one thing that Thorin felt was his– apart from titles and responsibilities, from expectations and limitations. Bilbo saw Thorin, valued him for who he was, not who he was “meant” to be. I imagine that was scary and comforting and everything in between for Thorin, but it was real. the one real thing that Thorin possessed.
I see you Thorin. I see me reflected back in you.