Monday, December 10, 2012

RA in Toronto! (Pt.1)

Well, my New Year's Eve wish came true!  I had hoped that Richard Armitage might visit Toronto and on December 3rd, 2012 - he actually did!  Unfortunately I was not able to get to my provincial capital to be a part of the festivities, but there were several lucky fans who were there. Two of them, known fondly as Puff and Leslieg have been telling their story on one of the C19 Facebook pages (a private group unfortunately).  They are also long time members of the C19 Forum and have been posting the whole story on threads there.

RA fans pose with him at Toronto Union Station

Leslieg kindly consented to an interview:

Please tell me how long you have been an RA fan. How long have you been active on C19 forum?

I first clocked RA when my beloved Sparkhouse aired on BBC Canada in the spring of 2003. I watched the scene set at the top of the stairs in Hebden Bridge, then realised it was that Wuthering Heights adaptation, and changed channels!!! I saw him in things over the intervening years, but it was Robin Hood that dragged me to the internet, as I am the Dial-up Queen, and I found C19 first, in June 2007. I've been active in the wider community ever since.

Have you met up with other RA fans before? If so, about how many times have you gotten together?

I've been to several meet-ups over the years: RAC meet-ups in Dallas '07, Detroit '09, and Ottawa '11 (hosted by me); an AA meet-up in '08 at Horsted Keynes train station with my daughter in tow, age five at the time; BAFTAs in '08, but no RA; annual meet-ups with various members of the forums in the UK, including an annual playdate for E with the daughter of another member. I've done trips up north, and had visits with people in my home stomping grounds of London and Kent. Everyone has been wonderful. I even managed to meet one dear friend who lives near Perth, Australia when we were both in the UK at the same time. She came south and I went north to meet her in London.

What was it that made you a fan in the first place?

I think it's Richard's ability to inhabit the character and his choice of characters that display character development. His messages to us all drew me in further.

I have heard that you are a frequent traveler to Great Britain.  Did you ever encounter him over there?

 I have always expected that I was more likely to bump into RA in London than in Canada. Our country is so big, that logistically, it simply made more sense that I would see him across the pond on one of my many trips. So when I found out he would be in Toronto on the George Stroumboulopoulos show, within 400 kilometres of my front door, I decided that I would make the journey.

What (if any) difficulties did you encounter with this trip to see RA?

Giggle!!! When I left the house on Sunday to drive to Toronto, approximately four hours away, I was leaving my husband with a questionnable vehicle, for starters. Then I had icy road surfaces on the drive on our dirt road to the main road, where I nearly slid right off the paved road! I had to change my driving route, and drive more slowly as I headed southwest, to avoid dangerous backroads I would normally take. Then I had pelting rain on the 401 all the way to the big city, and drizzle all the way home in the wee hours.

Please describe your first glimpse of him.

We weren't sure what direction he would be coming from, and so we had stationed ourselves near the hobbit hole display in the station.  I loved [I think she meant to write "leaned" but that mistake is very telling] over towards the KISS 92.5  (a local radio station) table and said, "There he is!" I could see his head above most people around him!

You were dressed as a Hobbit, is that right?

No, I had on a Thorin Oakenshield t-shirt my husband had bought for me, and we had to wear "Gandalf" hats with The Hobbit on the brim.

That sign was a wonderful idea. May I use the pictures?

Oh, yes. My daughter and I made it together.  It said “A Canadian NOT Rubbish Richard Armitage Sign,” as an in-joke to all the rubbish Richard Armitage signs that people took to the sets of Black Sky in Michigan over the summer. Richard looked at it and laughed and signed it for me.

And here is Richard Armitage's reaction to the sign:

(Photo courtesy of Puff)

And here he is autographing their sign!
photo from Warner Brothers Facebook page

The Marilyn Denis interview went very well. Did you get to see him after that?
Please tell us more about your day.

No one in our group was able to attend Marilyn's show, because tickets had to be ordered three weeks or more in advance, and we only learned late last week that he would be a guest. I watched the interview from the comfort of my hotel room overlooking Union Station. Then it was off to George Stroumboulopoulos at the CBC. We had been given passes for the advance screening that evening, so we knew we would see him both times.

You attended the George Stroumboulopoulos show. How did that interview go?

Stroumbo is one of the best interviewers in Canada, and I had high expectations, which were exceeded. George asked intelligent questions and allowed Richard to talk about Tolkien at length, as well as the aspects of the filming process. I don't know how much of it will make it to tape, but I told George afterwards that it was the best interview I'd ever seen of Richard. And there were no references to the circus or our overall community in a negative way.

Had you ever attended an interview show before? Would you enjoy going again (even if it wasn't RA being interviewed)?

No, I hadn't been to any taping of a television show of any sort. I doubt I would ever go again, unless it was for RA.

Did you get to the premiere as well?

Yes, we were very lucky to have passes, although we had to walk very quickly to the theatre after the Stroumbo taping, so we missed seeing Richard inside, except for his introduction of the film. Then he left, and we settled in to enjoy watching him rock the role of Thorin.

Please tell us anything else that was memorable about the evening.

I think I've covered it, pretty much. It was in the morning, when I was able to talk to Richard a few times that things were most memorable, and I am keeping those moments for my reports on the forums. It's our last chance for Richard to be our little secret, before the wider world recognizes what we've known for years, that he's a wonderful actor, consummate professional, and a very kind gentleman.

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions. We will all enjoy reliving this wonderful memory with you.

photo courtesy of

Note: The interview with George Stroumbolopoulos will be aired on CBC television on Wed. Dec. 12, 2012.


Anonymous said...

Marvellous experience and thanks for interview, both! (Yes, driving at this time of year is such fun - especially the lovely 401...) So pleased that you were able to attend the Strombo interview (check wall calendar for note re:date and time of braodcast) AND talk with Richard A, and obtain those photos! Excellent!


April73 said...

Wonderful experience. Thanks a lot for sharing this story and the pics with us. :-)

Traxy said...

Lovely fan interview with great pictures (I love the not rubbish sign!). Watched the George S interview last night, it was fantastic. Thank you for sharing! :)