Friday 30 November 2012

Thirty Days to Thorin (13) - Richard and Richard

For a while now, I've been wondering whether Richard Armitage is still thinking about playing King Richard III. Richard was named after the English king as he was born on 22 August, the day Richard III was killed in the battle at Bosworth Field in 1485.

A few years ago, Richard was planning to create a film to redeem the wronged King and restore his reputation. The fans loved the idea and have been rallying support for this project ever since. But with everything that has happened in Richard's career over the last few years and months, does Richard still have Richard on the brain? Or has he moved on?
Someone on that Red Carpet for The Hobbit in Wellington had obviously done their homework on Richard and asked him that very question. And I could not be happier about his reply... notice the twinkle in his eye and that small sigh of regret when he is confronted with the memory of Richard III... *runs off to watch the video again* 

Video uploaded to Youtube by Britu 21
Would you like to know more about King Richard III? I would recommend the excellent historical novel The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman, which was actually a great favourite of RA's father.

Would you like to support Richard and make his dream of playing Richard III a reality? Sign the petition at

Thursday 29 November 2012

Thirty Days to Thorin (12) - IMAX and trying to swim

I'm in information overload-mode! There is so much news to read and so many pictures to see since yesterday's The Hobbit world premiere in Wellington. I really don't feel like I've been able to see everything yet. So while I'm trying to keep my head up and swim through all of this goodness, I wanted to share the wonderful new IMAX poster of Thorin with you. Isn't it simply stunning?

New IMAX poster for The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey featuring Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield

Wednesday 28 November 2012

Thirty Days to Thorin (11) - He's got my heart forever now!

I just had the most amazing night/morning (04:30 am - 08:00 am) watching the live red carpet event for the world premiere of The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey in Wellington, New Zealand.
I'll definitely take time to talk about all that later today, but I just found out that Richard has written to us, the fans, again, so I just had to share this immediately.

Literally hours or minutes before the biggest event in his career, the man takes the time to sit down and write a note of appreciation to thank the fans for their support. How amazing is that! If I did not love him with all my heart before today, I will surely do so from this day on.

Thank you for sharing the message with the world!

Here it is:

Dear Friends,
So I am sitting in my hotel room from which I can see a very long red carpet and The Embassy Theatre. I am nervous, excited and quite emotional, the day has arrived when we can finally present our work for everyone to hopefully enjoy.
I wanted to say thank you for the continuing support that I receive from everyone who visits Annette's brilliant site, and those others which have popped up over the last few years and months. It means so much to me to have that support. I truly hope you all enjoy The Hobbit, I tried to respect the responsibility that taking on this role presented to me, my fellow cast members are all spectacular in the story and we send out our work to you in the hope that you can take your friends and family to see a great event in the cinema.
I look forward to saying thank you, at the various premiers over the next few weeks.
See you on the Red Carpet.
Much love

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Thirty Days to Thorin (10) - There should be a law against this!

Seriously, nobody should be allowed to look that good after getting off a flight from LA (USA) to Auckland (New Zealand)!

Richard Armitage and Martin Freeman between flights at Auckland International Airport, New Zealand, 25 November 2012
Flying from LA to Auckland takes about 13 hours. Yes, they were in first class, so they were probably slightly more comfortable than some other passengers on the flight. Even so, I don't know many people who would manage to look THAT GOOD after being stuck on a plane for 13 hours.

I love his stubble (you may have noticed before that I'm a fan of Richard with designer stubble), I love the fact that his hair is messed up, I love the fact that his boots are untied as if he just put them on very quickly after waking up from a well-deserved nap. I'm so bad at sleeping on planes, trains and automobiles that I have developed great respect for people who do manage to make good use of flying time.
I love the red spots on his cheek which tell me that he's probably been sleeping with his cheek resting on his hand, or resting his cheek against the window - that's just adorable!
I love the jeans - dark and tight - showing of those long legs...
I love the jeans shirt - collar up, button open (the fans love to see his neck, don't ask me why, but we do!)
I love the leather jacket - I thought RA would never go near anything in leather ever again after having to endure the Hungarian sun in the leather costumes he had to wear for Guy of Gisbourne in the BBC's Robin Hood. I'm extremely happy that he does wear leather, though, as it suits him so very well.

Well done, Mr. Armitage, top marks for style!!

Thirty Days to Thorin (9) - Cheeky Richard

This is how Richard Armitage spent his Monday in Wellington. Together with Martin Freeman, Andy Serkis and Elijah Wood (and possibly other members of the cast and crew of The Hobbit) he visited Zealandia.

Zealandia is an eco-restoration project where you can "see some of New Zealand's rarest birds, reptiles and insects living wild in their natural environment, including hihi, tuatara, saddleback, kākā and (at night) little spotted kiwi. Indoors, NZ’s incredible natural history and world-renowned conservation movement are brought to life in a state-of-the-art exhibition."

For more info on what seems to be a breathtakingly beautiful project, visit the website

Sounds like great fun! And he seems to be having a good time: I just love to see him smiling that cheeky smile!

Oh, and did you notice? No beard and no stubble... clean-shaven... Looks lovely, as always, but I admit that I was hoping to see that designer stubble on the red carpet tomorrow (28/12).

Richard Armitage (in signature black and blue) with friends in Zealandia (Wellington, New Zealand) on Monday, 26 November 2012. Picture found on

Thirty Days to Thorin (8) - How to properly address the King

Not that it's very likely to happen, but do you know what you're supposed to say when you meet a dwarf? Not just any dwarf, mind you, the Heir of Durin's Folk in exile, his majesty prince Thorin Oakenshield, son of Thrain, son of Thror.

"Durin, Durin!" said Thorin. "He was the father of the fathers of the eldest race of Dwarves, the Longbeards, and my first ancestor: I am his heir."
(From: The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, Chapter III A Short Rest p. 69)

The word of the day could possibly help you. Although I'm far from an expert at Khuzdul, if you know this one word, at least you will be able to acknowledge his royal status:

Image courtesy of
Now if you do happen to meet Thorin and you're overcome with nerves so badly that you forget the one word of Khuzdul that could possibly have saved your life, just bow as low as you can (even better if your beard touches the floor) and say: "Thorin Oakenshield, rightful King under the Mountain, I am at your service!"
You'll be fine! ;-)

Saturday 24 November 2012

Thirty Days to Thorin (7) - PJ understands me!

Yes, Peter Jackson understands me. He knows exactly what I want to see. So, when I woke up to PJ's new production video this morning, it turned out to have exactly what I needed: interesting details about the process of creating The Hobbit... and a lot of Richard Armitage and Thorin!!

So, Thank you PJ, for making my day - again!
And a special thank you to Wendy Dixon and Jonia for their excellent screencapping skills and for making the pictures available on the web.

See Peter Jackson's production video here:


As I said, there's plenty of Thorin/Richard in this video. In fact, Richard is the only member of the cast who features prominently in this behind-the-scenes video. Oh, and did I say he looks absolutely incredible, both as Thorin and as himself... or is that just stating the obvious?

Why don't you judge it for yourself...
And there it was: his beautiful, deep, velvet, dip-me-in-chocolate, tingles-down-my-spine voice.
I've missed you, my precious...

Thorin in action
And then, the piece de résistance, the most beautiful picture of Thorin- He looks dark and angry and slightly mad, but still as regal as ever. I love it!
Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), the wronged King of Durin's Folk, on a quest to reclaim his homeland, his honour and his dignity

Thursday 22 November 2012

Thirty Days to Thorin (6) - Family resemblance

Do you see the family resemblance?
Glóin – the father

Gloin, as portrayed by Peter Hambleton in Peter Jackson's The Hobbit trilogy

Gloin is a direct descendant of Nain II, one of the kings of Durin’s Folk and a distant cousin of Thorin Oakenshield. Gloin and his brother Oin, two doughty, Northern Dwarves join the Company out of a sense of loyalty to their kin, and also because they have a substantial sum of money invested in the venture. Oin and Gloin are talented at started fires. Along with Bombur, Gloin is the only other married Dwarf in the Company (there being a shortage of female dwarves in general). His wife is an acclaimed beauty with a particularly fine beard. Gloin is the proud father of a young son, Gimli, who will go on to become part of the famous Fellowship of the Ring. Gloin is the only dwarf from The Hobbit to personally appear in The Lord of the Rings.

Gimli – the son

Gimli, as portrayed by John Rhys-Davies in Peter Jackson's The Lord of the Rings trilogy

Gimli, son of Glóin, was a well-respected dwarf warrior in Middle-earth during the Great Years. He was a member of the Fellowship of the Ring, and was the only dwarf to readily fight alongside elves in the war against Sauron at the end of the Third Age. After the defeat of Sauron, he was given lordship of the Glittering Caves at Helm's Deep.
Gimli was born with a well groomed beard. He was a remote descendant of Durin the Deathless, father of the first house of dwarven people. Gimli stemmed from, but was not an inheritor of the royal line. He was also the first cousin once removed of Balin, Lord of Moria. It is also stated in the Unfinished Tales that Gimli was prevented from traveling with his father on the Quest of Erebor (in The Hobbit), because Thorin and company thought that he was too young. Gimli, being in his sixties, considered himself ripe for adventure and was disappointed to be left behind.

Wednesday 21 November 2012

Thirty Days to Thorin (5) - A song

"The quays were thronged with hurrying feet. Some began to sing snatches of old songs concerning the return of the King under the Mountain; that it was Thror's grandson not Thror himself that had come back did not bother them at all. Others took up the song and it rolled loud and high over the lake."

The King beneath the mountains
The King of carven stone
The lord of silver fountains
Shall come into his own
His crown shall be upholden
His harp shall be restrung
His halls shall echo golden
To songs of yore re-sung
The woods shall wave on mountains
And grass beneath the sun
His wealth shall flow in fountains
And the rivers golden run.
The streams shall run in gladness,
The lakes shall shine and burn,
All sorrow fail and sadness
At the Mountain-king's return!
From The Hobbit Chapter X - A warm welcome - page 251
Picture courtesy of (cropped)

Tuesday 20 November 2012

Thirty Days to Thorin (4) - The One Woman

I need to apologise to you. I promised you thirty days of countdown to the release of The Hobbit and I have not been very good at keeping my promise. You know how it goes: real life gets in the way: work, important life-changing decisions, busy times, family, etc. So I hope you're still with me and I promise I will make up for the lost time: I will publish all of the thirty blogposts before 12 December when The Hobbit - An Unexpected Journey is released in Belgium. Today, on International Men's Day (19 November, by the time I publish this that will be yesterday), I thought I would talk about the women in Tolkien's story, and the Dwarf-women in particular.
Galadriel, as played by Cate Blanchett
Image courtesy of
With the exception of the Galadriel (who does not appear in the original story), the story of The Hobbit is quite a ‘boys club’, don’t you think? 13 male dwarves, a wizard, a hobbit, Bard the Bowman, The Master of Laketown, Beorn etc. So much so that Peter Jackson, Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh had to invent characters to inject some female energy into their films. They decided against creating more Dwarves, but went for Elves instead. That’s how the character Tauriel (played by Evangeline Lily) was born.

I guess it was a wise decision not to create female dwarves for the films: they are so elusive that their existence is even questioned. On page 411 of The Lord of the Rings - The Return Of the King, Tolkien speaks about female dwarves:

“It was said by Gimli that there are few dwarf-women, probably no more than a third of the whole people. They seldom walk abroad except at great need. They are in voice and appearance, and in garb if they must go on a journey, so like to the dwarf-men that the eyes and ears of other people cannot tell them apart. This has given rise to the foolish opinion among Men that there are no dwarf-women, and that the Dwarves grow out of Stone.”

I don’t know if she will even be mentioned in the films (she’s only a reference in the book), but there is one important Dwarf woman – the company of dwarves would not have been complete without her - she is the One Woman.
The youngest members of Thorin’s company of dwarves are Fili and Kili, his nephews. They are the sons of Thorin’s only sister, Dís. In fact, Dís is the only female dwarf that J.R.R. Tolkien ever mentioned by name.
The last Heirs of Durin's Folk: Fili (Left - Dean O'Gorman), Kili (Right - Aiden Turner) and their uncle Thorin Oakenshield (Middle - Richard Armitage) 
Dís (born Third Age 2760) was the daughter of King Thráin II and sister of Thorin and Frerin. Like her brothers she was born in the Lonely Mountain and was driven into exile in T.A. 2770 when the dragon Smaug took control of the kingdom.
The name Dís was probably derived from Old Norse -dís ("sister of") which is found in many Nordic names. So Dís is simply named as the sister of her brothers – not very gender-friendly, Professor Tolkien!
On the other hand, although it is often believed that the name Frerin came from either the Old Norse Dwarf-name Frár ("Swift") in the Völuspá, or from the Old Norse word frérinn ("frozen"), to me, it simply sounds like “frère”, the French word for “brother”. That would mean that both Dís and Frerin were named as the siblings of the heir of Durin’s Folk, Thorin.
OK, Tolkien, listen up: your stories need more women!! Thank you. That's all.

Wednesday 14 November 2012

Thirty Days to Thorin (3) - New TV spot

A new TV spot fot The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey has just been released. It contains some new scenes and features Thorin quite prominently. Enjoy!!

Thirty Days to Thorin (2) - the dwarves

Here's a picture of the 'Unexpected Party':

I manage to name all the dwarves quite easily these days, but I keep putting the wrong name with the wrong picture: for some inexplicable reason, I tend to get Dori & Nori and Oin and Balin mixed up, .

Anyway, what was Peter Jackson thinking when he agreed to make a film that featured a band of 13 dwarves?! They are all very similar in Tolkien's book - he only really gives Thorin a bit more of a personality. So, that's quite a challenge for a filmmaker, but it's also a great opportunity to fill in the blanks and shape the characters to fit the story that you're trying to tell.

As I discussed before, PJ didn't use the different colours that Tolkien assigns to each of the dwarves. He must be colourblind, as that would have been a perfect starting point for their character development.

But Sir Peter is smart: together with screenwriter Philippa Boyens and producer Fran Walsh, he has given the dwarves their own way of dressing, their own way of acting and fighting, their own hairstyle (and beard, of course!), their own weapons, their own history, their own reasons for going on this quest etc. And bit by bit, piece by piece, they have been feeding us these details. For the last year or so, we have had the time to get to know everything about these dwarves, so when we finally get to see the first film, we will be able to step right into the story without being distracted or confused by 'who was that again?'.

This is the official description of Thorin Oakenshield: (thanks to

Name: Thorin
Alias: Oakenshield, King under the Mountain, King of Durin's Folk in Exile
Date of Birth: T.A. 2746
Race: Dwarf, House of Durin
Date of Death: T.A. 2941
Alignment: Good
Parents: Thráin II (father)
Spouse: None
Children: None

"As a young Dwarf prince, Thorin witnessed the destruction and terror wrought when a great fire-breathing Dragon attacked the Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor. After slaughtering many of Thorin’s kin, the great serpent, Smaug, entered The Lonely Mountain and took possession of its vast store of gold and jewels. No-one came to the aid of the surviving Dwarves, and thus, a once proud and noble race was forced into exile. Through long years of hardship, Thorin grew to be a strong and fearless fighter and revered leader. In his heart a fierce desire grew; a desire to reclaim his homeland and destroy the beast that had brought such misery upon his people. So when fate offers him an unusual ally, he seizes the chance for revenge."

"We will seize this chance to take back Erebor!"
Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) prepares his company of dwarves for the difficult task that lies ahead.

Tuesday 13 November 2012

Thirty Days to Thorin (1) - The Crush

As I type this, the last minute of 12 November 2012 is officially over. In exactly 30 days, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first film from a new trilogy by director Peter Jackson will officially be released in Belgium.

I'm good at countdowns, apparently, so here's another one. For the next 30 days, I will be writing about The Hobbit, the film(s), the book and especially about Thorin Oakenshield and Richard Armitage (of course!) every day. Join me in counting down to the moment that we have all been waiting for for so very long.

Before I start, let me just warn you that this countdown may contain spoilers about the original story by J.R.R. Tolkien and about the film(s). It's quite impossible to talk about both without giving away any details from the storyline. So, if you haven't read the story and don't want to know what happens before you see the film, please don't read any further.

Even though the title of J.R.R. Tolkien's story is The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, it could just as well have been called Thorin Oakenshield, the King Under the Mountain. It's Thorin Oakenshield who goes on a quest to reclaim Erebor, the kingdom in the Lonely Mountain and vanquish the dragon Smaug. He's the character that goes on a journey of redemption, to liberate his homeland and claim his heritage. He's the character in the story that goes on the most profound, life altering journey. To me, he's the real hero of the story (although I admit that my judgement may be slightly blurred by the fact that RA is portraying him.)

It's over 2 years ago now that I first learned that Richard Armitage was going to be playing the role of Thorin Oakenshield in Peter Jackson's film(s). I was so very happy for him, but at the same time couldn't really wrap my head around the idea that this tall man (He's 6 foot 2 inches - and a half! - or 189.23cm) would be playing a 5'2" dwarf - that's about 157.5cm. How would this man, who was used to towering over people and having others look up at him, cope with being short? Wasn't PJ just complicating things too much? So many things to worry about! I'll write more in the coming days about how I slowly started to believe that this was actually a good decision.

The first thing that set my mind at ease was this picture of Richard as Thorin. I hate to admit it, but I've had a huge crush on this dwarf ever since! *blushes*

Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield, the King Under the Mountain
Question: Can you name all 13 dwarves that take Bilbo Baggins on this adventure? No cheating allowed!
Start practicing now and I'll see you tomorrow... :-)
Sweet dReAms!!

Sunday 11 November 2012

Remembering sergeant Armitage

Today, on Remembrance Sunday, I would like to pay my respects to those who sacrificed their lives, their future and their freedom for future generations. I have always been especially interested in the stories behind World War I and II, both the grand strategic and political decisions and the personal stories of soldiers, civilians, families and villages. I’ve travelled to places like London, Paris and Berlin to understand how these cities and their people were affected by the wars and I’ve visited the important landmarks and memorials in my own country (e.g. Tyne Cot cemetery in Paschendaele, Menin Gate in Ypres, the woods of The Ardennes).

When I visit a war cemetery, I try to stop at as many graves as I can to read the name that is on the gravestone out loud. It’s my own personal way of honouring them and thanking them for their sacrifice.
Last week, I visited the Commonwealth War Cemetery at Hotton (Belgium), where I found this grave.

Final resting place of Sergeant P.S. Armitage
The text on the gravestone reads:
1809956 sergeant
Air Gunner
Royal Air force
2nd March 1945 Age 21

The Lord is my shepherd

I shall not want

He maketh me to lie down

In green pastures
The records of Hotton Cemetery provide the following information:
VI.A.3. United Kingdom Sergeant ( Air Gnr. ) 1809956 Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve.
2nd March 1945. Age 21. Son of George Henry and Louise Hilda Ellen Armitage of East Barnet Hertfordshire. Unit: 622 Sqdn.

The War Cemetery at Hotton (Belgium) is the final resting place of 665 British and Commonwealth soldiers killed during WWII and the Battle of the Ardennes. Among them was one Belgian who fought with the 53rd Welsh Division.

I’ve seen the name Armitage in these war cemeteries before. I distinctly remember standing by a grave at the WWI memorial cemetery Tyne Cot near Paschendaele here in Belgium and I recently found out that the Tyne Cot memorial contains sculpture by a man named Joseph Armitage.

The Tyne Cot Memorial that surrounds the cemetery (unveiled on 20 June 1927) now bears the names of almost 35,000 officers and men whose graves are not known.  

“They shall not grow old, as we who are left grow old

Age shall not weary them nor the years condemn

At the going down of the sun and in the morning

We shall remember them”
Lucas North (Richard Armitage) wear the poppy, the symbol of Remembrance, in Episode 1 of Season 7 of Spooks (BBC)