Channel: Oh No They Didn't!
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This is a Thorin, son of Thráin, son of Thrór, King Under the Mountain, Future Husband of Mine Post


"I just want to convince people I'm not 5"2 and hairy," smiles Richard Armitage, sitting back in a comfortable chair at London's Claridges hotel. "That'll be the biggest challenge." The 41-year-old actor's concern is understandable: as dwarf leader Thorin Oakenshield in Peter Jackson's long-awaited Hobbit trilogy, he's shrunken and wigged-up beyond all recognition. So, let GQ settle it: in real life, Armitage cuts an enviably handsome figure. He's easily 6"1, lightly stubbled and today clad in a sleek J. Lindeberg suit with a plaid shirt and tie.After almost two decades on British TV in the likes of Spooks, Robin Hood and Chris Ryan's Strike Back, The Hobbit marks a step up for Armitage - into the newly world of global franchises and screaming fans. Arriving nine years after the release of The Return Of The King, the film is a visually stunning return to Middle Earth, shot in ultra-clear 3D - but by the time Howard Shore's inimitable score sets in,  and Andy Serkis is shouting "precious", it feels like we never left. Ahead of the film's release this weekend, we sat down with Armitage over a glass of wine to talk beard grooming, Hobbit obsessives and why Brits work best in the shire.

GQ.com: We were at the Jack Reacher junket yesterday talking to David Oyelowo, who was also in Spooks. Do you think there was something about that show, or is this just a great moment for British actors?
Richard Armitage: We were at the same year at drama school! I loved that show so much. I found it really challenging, it forced you to work at speed. I always said when they finished Spooks they should have made a movie of it. Actually my ultimate role is to play another spy…

One spy in particular? (so funny, I was thinking abt how he could've been Bond but then I feel like he's a little too srs for that)
Oh no, god - that sounds awful doesn't it? I think [Daniel Craig] has a few left in him. I do think with the Hobbit, it's a quintessentially English writer writing about middle England and his experiences in WWI. Peter Jackson has really chosen British actors and British voices - which I think particularly is applicable to British actors, because they tend to have been through classical drama training and when you're loading up characters in a lot of prosthetics and wigs, it's the voice that cuts through all that. So you've got people like Ian McKellen, Ian Holm, Ken Stott, Jimmy Nesbitt - all these incredibly identifiable voices. I think that's probably why British actors are doing OK.

How much did you immerse yourself with all other books, the fan fiction and all that mythology? 
I really stuck with the purist stuff. I stayed with The Hobbit and when that became not enough I looked at The Silmarillion and then The Book Of Lost Tales, as well as all of Christopher Tolkien's stuff. It's extensive and I never really got through all of it. But I steer clear from the fan fiction and the fan discussions because I'm one of them - and after this, my critique is now as detailed as theirs. But the thing is as well, when you get the phone call, you get so excited about getting the job, but then you get scared because this book has been around since the late Thirties, it's been read to probably every school kid in England and beyond, has been translated into so many languages, so everyone has their idea of this story. So you have to take care of their idea of Thorin. But I had my version and Pete trusted me.

They digitally alter your height afterwards but you have to act it live. Did you have to spend 18 months talking to at Ian McKellen's hat or Martin Freeman's belt?  
I feel like Ian felt that more acutely than anybody else. Maybe it's that his face becomes emblazoned on everybody that encounters it because I remember less stressfully the experience. I seem to remember looking into Ian's eyes more than anything, and into… obviously my character and  Martin's character are of the same height. But they stuck Ian on a box occasionally - when they couldn't stick him on a box, I had to look at the top of his hat. But we'd rehearse eye-to-eye, so you just have to remember what that feels like. Maybe because Ian has an indelible stare which you can't shake off.

Have you met many obsessive Hobbit fans yet? There's actually a queue of two dozen people outside Claridges right now. 
Is there? Oh, god! I've met a few. What's nice is that there are people who have been around for the last eight years with the work that I've done and there are new people that will come along that are fans of the book more than anything else. Then of course Comic Con, where you've got this global reach and Tokyo was amazing - you've got people dressed up as Galadriel and little Japanese Hobbits. I had some beautiful artwork given to me by some people in costume in Tokyo. But the creation of Thorin is really the work of many people, not just me. I seem to exist inside of it, but hopefully that means that I can take him off and walk away from him and not really be too identifiable with it. He doesn't look too much like me. So maybe I'll still be able to sneak out the back door when I need to.

You grew the beard yourself - did you have to live with it the whole time? 
Yes, for 18 months! Weirdly enough the beard I grew ended up turning out identical to the one that they'd made me. They did have to darken it a little bit, because mine grows out a little bit lighter colour. It was weird because I thought "Oh brilliant, I'll just grow a beard and it'll be less work." But actually it became more work because they'd be trimming it every day, because it has to look identical. My beard goes fast, so I'd come back after a weekend and they'd say, "Argh, it's gone crazy!" I really liked having the beard. It's weird - I remember doing some photo shoot for some publicity and thinking, "This is going to look awful" but it kind of looks OK. I think beards are in. But the full beard, not some kind of facial architecture. A full beard looks cool.

The costumes weighed nearly 30kg. Did you have to do much training in advance? 
Yeah, we trained with a weight belt to drag us down, to get our centres of gravity low. But when you put the costume on, you're carrying 20-30 kilos extra, depending on your character. It's pretty heavy! I try to keep at a non-obsessive level of fitness. It's not about looking great, it's about just feeling good. So I do a lot of yoga. Bikram just blows my mind. It's mental as well as physical; if I don't train I get very depressed. But the training for The Hobbit was about stamina and back strength so that we weren't injuring ourselves with the extreme circumstances. It would be good to go back and find that level of training again.

You're a big skier. Where do you recommend? 
Massive skier. It's my huge passion - as soon as the winter comes, I'm looking around thinking, "Just get me up a mountain." I've done an awful lot of skiing all over Europe: I've done Italy, Austria, France. I skied loads in New Zealand - I did pretty much every ski slope I could find. I skied down Mount Ruapehu and then we went back and shot there. So I was looking when the snow was gone and going "I skied down these paths. I know these paths well."

You're a stylish man but I know Martin Freeman is very into his clothes. (lol wtf ever Martin has the worst "style")
I take inspiration from his style. I spent most of the time dressed in Nike in New Zealand. He just has great taste and is into really fantastic tailoring, so I've had to step up my game for this press tour!

Would he be your nomination for GQ's Best-Dressed British Man
Oh, without a doubt. His taste in tailoring is… actually, he's a little like a Hobbit in that respect. I'm a little more tentative, I suppose.  I don't really like making too much of a statement with what I'm wearing. That's probably me being a little conservative and occasionally it is good to splash out and be a bit daring.

Other than Tolkien, what book should every man have on their bookshelf? 
The Master & The Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. I want to make that book into a movie - it'll take me a lifetime, I may never do it but it's the most incredible book.

You've got another Hollywood project, Black Sky, out next year. Would you move out to LA and do films full time? 
I'm kind of half way in between at the moment. I'm based around New York (omg I'll run into him one day and he shall fall hopelessly in love with me) because it's easy to get to both places. I don't think I will ever really shift to LA. I love the theatre too much and there's not enough theatre there. I like going to the theatre and I want to try and get back on stage at some point in the next two years. The Hobbit has been such an exhaustive journey, I do just want to let the film be seen and let it settle. But I know that the experience I had was amazing. I just hope people enjoy the film, I hope families can take their kids and have a great night out the cinema. That's enough for me.

Source: Interview from GQ UK

Can this be a Hobbit flailing post to those who have seen it? Please include a spoiler cut for others though! Spoilers inside guys, sorry... I loved it like I love this man and his bolt of lightning forehead vein. Omg he's Monica.

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