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If looks could kill…


Source: Sunday Times

12 September 2010

by Ria Higgins



   The actor Richard Armitage, 39, star of Spooks, on porridge, staying fighting fit, the joys of Shakespeare – and why no cleaner would be safe in his house

   I need the loudest alarm volume possible on my phone or I’ll sleep through it. At 5am, who can blame me? But not so good when I have to be on set at 6am and there’s a poor driver banging on my front door at 5.30. Then it’s a mad rush to get ready and I’ll be picking something off the floor to wear because my drawers are empty and I’ve forgotten to do a wash. From Feb to August I was filming Spooks five days a week and, because I spent so much time in costume, I forgot about my own clothes.

   When I’ve got a day off or I’m between projects I’ll take things a bit slower. I’ll wake up naturally, make my own way to the kitchen, turn on LBC and make porridge in the microwave. I’ll have that with some fruit on top, and then I might beat a couple of eggs and stick them in the microwave. Scrambled takes 2½ minutes.

   I’ve lived in southeast London for 20 years and I love it. I’ve a garden at the back of the house and it’s great to have some outdoor space, but things can get a bit wild. The other day I had to get on the roof and pull down a forestload of ivy. It was starting to consume the place.

   Once I’ve sorted out calls and emails, I’ll grab my iPod and run to the gym. Keeping fit is important because so much of the work I do is pretty action-packed. Riding horseback in Robin Hood, chasing spies in Spooks, fighting terrorists in Strike Back… never a dull moment. There are stunt doubles for the trickier stuff, but I do a lot myself because I enjoy the challenge. And if it’s a scene in which I’ve got to appear half-naked, believe me, that’s an incentive to keep in shape. When I started acting I didn’t think about how physically demanding it could be. I’d always concentrated in the mental, emotional side of things. After drama school I went to the RSC, then Birmingham Rep, so I did a fair bit of Shakespeare and the classics. You can’t beat the immediacy of live theatre – it’s like going to see a football match. And I love that feeling of losing yourself for 2½ hours. TV’s very different. So much is done frame by frame, shot by shot. The best thing about being on stage is when you’re in the middle of a scene and you lose control. You get this massive adrenaline rush, a feeling like you’re flying or on fire. Once you’ve had that, you want it again and again.

   By lunchtime I’ve got quite an appetite. I try and eat as healthily as possible. A bit of fish, fresh vegetables… It’s how I was brought up. Growing up in Leicester, my brother and I used to whinge about not having any of the ready-made dinners that came onto the market in the 1970s. But Mum’s always hated anything processed. And now I’m the same, so when I go home I look forward to her cooking. It’s a great part of the world up there. My father’s side came from there, so we have lots of weavers and miners in our family. My grandmother worked in one of the cotton mills.


   On set we’ve usually wrapped by 7.30 and I might head for the gym or go for a run. After a day’s shooting it allows me to escape and shut off from everything. It’s also a great calmer if I’m angry or upset about something. I’m a bit of a brooder. I don’t like confrontation, so I think I suppress things. When my temper does come out, it goes all the way – the kind of temper you can’t apologise for. Yep, the chair getting thrown out of the window. Those emotions are scary, but hey, they come in useful when you’re acting.

   When I get back and I’m just in for the evening. I’ll go over lines for the next day or catch up on future projects. The place looks a bit of a tip but I tend to see it as organised mess myself. I don’t have a cleaner, so if I don’t do it, it doesn’t get done. There are books everywhere. And scripts. Some top-secret. In fact, I couldn’t have a cleaner just in case they’d be tempted to read them. I’d have to shoot them. Just the other day I left a script in the boot of my car by mistake and all I could think was: "Shit! If someone breaks into the car I’m as good as dead.” I couldn’t rest until I’d got it. I think I’m becoming paranoid. Maybe Spooks is getting to me.


   I’m a creature of habit when it comes to rustling up dinner. I’ll happily make the same dish over and over again until I’m sick of it. At the moment’s it’s salmon with couscous and tomatoes. I got it off the Jamie Oliver app on my iPhone. Before bed, I’ll have a bath, then look at the long, linear pile of books by my bed. I’m reading all I can on Richard III. He’s fascinating. I used to suffer from sleeplessness, but not any more, thank God, because I need my sleep. Like Macbeth says, "Balm of hurt minds, great nature’s second course, Chief nourisher in life’s feast.”


Category: 2010 | Added by: Alenanok (16.05.2011)
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