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The Independent, 2nd December 2004


The World According To... Richard Armitage

Richard Armitage, 33, plays John Thornton in the BBC's adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell's novel, North and South. He trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, and appeared in the TV series Cold Feet and the film This Year's Love

What is the secret of a good smoulder?

A pint of petrol and a match. Seriously, you look at the person, think of them in the most desirable way you can and then suppress the desire to do anything about it. There are many ways to smoulder. You can smoulder with your back.

Is there life on other planets?

If there is, it's either very shy or hacked off with us. I'd like to think it is out there; it would be useful to compare notes.

An actor's life is...

... adventurous and dangerous. You've got to have patience and be able to find contentment inside discontentment. You encounter a lot of frustration. When you watch a performance back, you're never happy, but you've got to be able to find some contentment with what you've done, or you wouldn't be able to go on.

Which historic figure would you like to take out for a drink?

Lucretia Borgia. She was dark and powerful, and had no boundaries. I'd like to find out what makes such people tick.

North or south?

Definitely the north. I've lived in the south for a long time, but my family is from the north and I feel most at home among northerners, because they say it like it is. And the rugged landscape - such as the Yorkshire moors - sets my heart racing.

Should men wear make-up?

Only if they're in drag. However, as an actor, make-up can help you get into a role. If you don't recognise yourself in the mirror, it can give you instant access to the character you're playing. At drama school, I played a female brothel-keeper and a bald wig helped me to do that.

Bustles or bodices?

Definitely bodices. They are restraining garments and there is something waiting to burst out. Bustles look like deformed backsides. They are not sexy.

What is your greatest fear?

Deep water. One of my earliest memories is of falling into my neighbour's pond in my pushchair. I was under the water for quite a while. Ever since, I've had a problem with deep, dark water.

Can you spell?

I'm not bad, although I have problems with the "i before e" rule. I think that spelling's important. I try to write hand-written letters to my close friends, and I really appreciate receiving letters where the words have been carefully chosen.

Do you believe that love is for ever?

I'm counting on it. But, as yet, I cannot confirm it one way or the other.


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