Richard Armitage is trading Middle Earth for a fictional Midwest city in the United States in his new tornado thriller Into The Storm. For the 43-year-old British actor, who goes from playing the leader of the dwarves to portraying a school teacher trying to survive the biggest tornado outbreak the area has ever seen, it’s a tough transition.
Standing at an imposing 6-feet, 3-inches tall, Armitage was shocked when he was cast by Peter Jackson to play Thorin Oakenshield in his The Hobbit trilogy. At first, the handsome blue-eyed star couldn’t comprehend how on Earth he would convince anyone he was a dwarf. But with Jackson’s genius his character has been more than convincing and he will reprise his role for the last time in the upcoming The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.
But now, the thesp is promoting his new action movie, Into The Storm and if you are not sure who this very talented actor is, you will be able to see that he can play a modern day character just as well as he has done in his many period pieces.
Richard Armitage stars in the lead, in what could be a breakthrough role and American audiences are sure to be impressed with the intensity with which the Brit takes on his role. However, the transition from Middle Earth to the Midwest wasn’t easy, as the actor tells The Columbus Dispatch.
“It’s challenging to convince the industry that I’m not Thorin. I walk into a room, and people say, ‘Oh, you’re tall — and so much less hairy than we expected!'”
In Into The Storm, Richard plays a teacher and recently widowed father of two boys, when the deadly outbreak hits their small town.
“My character has lost his wife, and he’s busy being the father of two boys.”
“A giant tornado hits town, and one of my sons goes missing. I have to go in search of the boy among all this weather, tornadoes and wreckage. It turns into a terrifying chase.”
Armitage was surprised at what the finished product looked like, after attending a screening ahead of Into the Storm’s premiere, which took place in New York on Monday. Richard said he was pleased with what he saw, after the score was added to the film.
In order to prepare for his role, Armitage studied footage of real life disasters and the reactions of those affected by them. Richard explained that, even though the tornadoes in Into the Storm are computer generated, he does most of his stunts, to make it look realistic.
“The tornadoes were all (computer-generated) special effects, but we really did have 100-mph wind machines on the set. There was a real 18-wheeler tossed off a crane. The production did rip a roof off a school.”
“Half of the film consisted of the actors doing practical stunts, so it really did feel like we were in the middle of everything.”
Richard Armitage — who is a classically trained theater actor in his native England — is known for completely immersing himself in his characters and Into The Storm is no different. For the role he also had to master the Midwest accent, which he does quite well.
“I love doing stunts. I think you can always see when they put the stunt guy in. Plus, I like to know that I’ve been through what the character has been through and that I’ve done everything that he has had to do in the movie. I want to survive what my character survives.”
Richard Armitage is adored by legions of fans — who call themselves the Armitage Army — for his good looks, incredible talent, and interesting personality. Watch an interview where Armitage discusses more about what it was like to film Into the Storm, which hits theaters on Friday, August 8.
[Images via New Line Cinema]