Sunday, January 19, 2014

I Saw Something Fine - Or the Man Called Portah

Richard Armitage can portray vulnerability in a character like few actors I have seen. It's not over the top nor forced nor waving a flag saying, "Watch me now while I show you how vulnerable I am."

This seems to be my theme for #RAflash week (see here and here), how Richard imbues his roles with vulnerability, creating an empathetic character whether you want to like him or not. And there are a number of characters you really don't want to like. At all.

Which brings me to Portah.

Of all the roles, that of John Porter (yeah, I know, the spelling, I'll get to that at the end) in "Strike Back" was the one that I delayed watching.

Porter comforting Katie
My reasons were many, but in the end it boiled down to a very simple one: Porter scared me.

That probably makes no sense to anyone except me, especially if you've seen the series. It likely started with my quest to watch Richard's work in chronological order if I could. Unlike many folks, I needed to not watch everything in a few weeks. He didn't do the work in a few weeks, so I felt it was important to spread the shows out over time. (Plus, he has only a finite amount of work and I didn't want to be without "new" work in just a few weeks.)

I'd been blindsided by Thornton in "North and South," which was the first time I recognized Richard Armitage. I'd moved on to Guy in "Robin Hood" and peppered in other roles, such as Harry in "The Vicar of Dibley," as I watched that series. The debut of "The Hobbit" and Thorin was its own thing, and I followed that spell by watching Lucas in "Spooks" (MI5 here in the States, for some ridiculous reason).

And still I waited.


I was pretty sure Porter would kill me.


Because by all accounts - and I had read a few - this was THE hero role.

It was what I yearned for Richard to play. And having watched most everything he had done on the run-up to this role, I knew it would be a tour de force.

He was.

Porter talking to his daughter after hearing tragic news
From the very first minutes, it was apparent that this was no rampaging soldier role. It brought home the humanity - and inhumanity - of what being a soldier is like.

But it also showed how one decision can change everything, be it a war zone or not.

I was mesmerized by Richard in this portrayal, a man of conviction, a man willing to own his decisions (debatable whether they were mistakes), a man of honor and loyalty no matter the cost to himself.

And this: A man who allows himself to be vulnerable, which only strengthens him as a man.

The moment when Porter is his most heroic, at least to me

Porter will always be the unsung hero, my hero, the good man you want in your life, the one who's got your back, the one who will rescue you, the one who will shore you up when you think you can't go on, the one who will put himself in harm's way to protect you, the one who will hold you when you are frightened, the one who will love you.

It makes you yearn for such a man.

And that's what scared me. 
 *About Portah: Early on, when I heard the name pronounced thusly, I had to chuckle because the Maine accent tends to turn words with an "er" or "ar" to sound like "ah." The long-running joke in New England is the following sentence: "I parked the car in Harvard yard" to "I pahked the cah in Hahvahd yahd." So it will always be Portah for me.


the queen said...

Sweet! Gotta say,Portah grabbed me too. I think we need another Hero role?? said...

sweet! Portah grabbed my attention immediately. I think we need another Hero role!!?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your Portah experience. His vulnerability is most assuredly his strong point.

I always like to hear more about the people behind the blogs and tweets.

Perry said...

I love your description of meting out your Richard Armitage watching - sort of like grazing on his works. I, on the other hand, gorged to the best of my ability.