So, I met Richard Armitage today on the set of a movie in Rochester, Michigan. I’d flown in to visit my mother-in-law, and I had a bit of a “Planes, Trains & Automobiles” adventure getting to Michigan, but that is another (very funny) story for another time.
This is the “long version” of the story….
My MIL and FIL live in the Detroit northern suburbs and she knows the area. We set out together in her GMC Acadia, 313-style. I had absolutely no idea where they were filming today, even after checking the excellent On Location Vacations blog & twitter feed, but my fangirl instincts told me to go to their last known location - Oakland University. I thought they might be dismantling last week’s set and I could ask where they were now.
Approaching Oakland U., I saw two giant cranes and thought: That’s part of the set - someone should be there who knows something. We entered the campus and drove towards the cranes, but couldn’t go down there; it was blocked by a police cruiser. We turned around & went the other way, and then I spied, with my little eye, this sign:
I just knew that this had to stand for Untitled Tornado Production, and I told my MIL to follow those little yellow signs to the set, which we did, via an extremely convoluted route across the campus! (Note: “UTP” is only ONE LETTER AWAY from “OTP.” Coincidence? I think not.) (Also note: Bitchin’ Camaro in background. Totally Michigan!)
We parked as close as we could to the set, and I walked over & asked an Oakland University security guard whose cruiser was blocking vehicular traffic if I could go past him & ask around. He directed me to the movie production security guard down the hill towards the set, so I thanked him & went down & asked her about meeting RA. She was very nice, but didn’t know who Richard Armitage was. We chit-chatted a bit (I mentioned that I’d come all the way from the East Coast; she was interested in what RA had been in & I was happy to fill her in), and two guys from the crew came walking up headed from the set to the restricted area with the food-tent & trailers. She said, “Maybe they can help you.”
I asked the two guys about RA and they hadn’t heard of him.
I said, “He’s an actor - tall guy, really handsome, British…”
They were like, “Really handsome? Well, it’s definitely NOT US!” (Laughter all around.) They said they were from the art department & didn’t really know the actors. “Are you sure you’re on the right set?” one asked.
“Untitled Tornado Production, right?” I said.
“Nah, this is a different movie,” he replied, grinning wickedly.
“Black Sky!” I countered, remembering that the working title had just been changed two days ago. I think he was trying to mess with my head, but this fangirl had done her homework.
Kind of thinking out loud, he said to the other dude: “Well, she’d have to talk to an A.D….” [assistant director]….”Maybe we could check the Call Sheet, we’ll go in & check it out for you.” They went into the restricted area by the trailers & I thanked them & waited….
A few minutes later the two guys pulled out in a car, on their way out somewhere, but they stopped by me, rolled down the window & told me that an A.D. would be out to talk with me shortly. SCHWINGGGGG! I was very excited, as was the production Security Guard!
The A.D. came out. I think her name was Crystal and she was really nice. I explained myself, including the bit about flying out from the East Coast to have a chance to meet RA. I was trying extra-hard to seem normal and not-crazy (under the circumstances). She said, “Well, he’s down on the set, he’s working, but I can tell him you’re here - it might be 45 minutes to an hour before he can come over.” I said that would be AWESOME & asked, “Can I hug you?” and she said yes and I did. (I think she might be a candidate for the Armitage Army…)
At that point I went to the car & got my Mother-in-Law and her camera and my poster, and we first camped out in a bit of shade in the parking lot…keeping it klassy as always…
(sorry about the Flood-Pants — that’s part of the Story For Another Time — but believe it or not the socks I’m wearing are MY FATHER-IN-LAW’S MEN’S DRESS SOCKS. TRUFAX.)
Then the Security Guard asked us to move to another area, in the grass, and we did. Then the Security Guard’s boss, the director of ALL production security on the movie, came up to us, saying, “You’re not gonna like me.” MY HEART SANK! But she just wanted us to move slightly up the hill, in a nice shady spot that actually had a chair in it. Also, apparently the A.D. had not consulted with HER boss before promising us RA, so that was apparently a breach of protocol, but no worries. I told her I liked her plenty and would never hate on anyone for doing their job. She was actually really nice and my MIL now had a chair to sit in. (I continued sitting on the ground like the tribeswoman I am.)
So, chit-chatting with my MIL on the grassy knoll, suddenly she says: “He’s coming.” I get up, grab the sign, and sure enough, RA is headed towards me up the hill, with the A.D. and a big burly guy accompanying him!
Resisting the urge to do this,
(which was quite difficult but somehow I managed), I stood up proudly behind my sign and smiled as THE MAN approached, and I saw that he was smiling. He motioned towards my sign and said, “That’s a good one.” He stuck out his hand for me to shake and he said, “I’m Richard.” I introduced myself. Oh my God! - I was sooooo excited to meet him, but I managed not to freak out, somehow. He also extended his hand to my MIL. He really is a proper gentleman!
Then my MIL took a picture of us holding the sign (I was kind of awestruck so maybe RA had to hold the sign akshully. I think I sort of forgot how to move my limbs.)
Then I gave him a little birthday present. It was basically this cartoon, mounted on a little 5x7 piece of matting-board with the caption “Mr. Thornton, TAKE CARE!” and my webcomic URL (instead of my personal tumblr URL, which NO ONE MUST EVER SEE, FOR OBVIOUS REASONS.)
I said, “It’s just a list of warning-signs to tell if you’ve been in Michigan too long.”
RA looked at it and smiled and said, “Are you from here?”
“No, but I married a Michigander,” I replied.
He grinned. “A Michigander - so that’s what they call them.” (Did I mention his accent, his voice, everything? (#Can’tBreathe)
“Is this for me to keep?” he said.
I said, “Yes, it’s for your birthday. Would you mind if I got a picture of you & me with my comic?” OF COURSE HE DIDN’T MIND!!!!!1!!!11oneeleven
(again, I seem to have lost control of all bodily functions as I am inexplicably not touching him - wtf is up with that?)
THEN he said to my MIL, “Would you like to be in the picture too?” and she joined in and the A.D. took a picture of the three of us.
WHAT A GUY! (My MIL was a good sport too!) (She’s the original Hannah Thornton, by the way. I’m Fanny.)
And then we chit-chatted a little bit. I think my MIL mentioned that I flew out from New York, and somehow that segued into the fact that he’d visited NYC over the weekend.
“What were you doing in New York?” I asked.
“Oh, visiting some friends, getting out of Detroit,” he said. Somehow the subject of taking Spirit Airlines came up (I DO NOT REMEMBER HOW) and he was like, “Oh yeah, I took them too, they have a 6am flight!” (How RA fit into one of the seats on Spirit is beyond me. He must’ve gotten one of the giant seats up-front. That airline makes Southwest look like the freakin QE2…. I’m talking livestock in the overhead bins, people!) Anyway, we chatted a bit about my crazy Planes/Trains/Automobiles experience getting there & how awful LaGuardia airport is (my words, not Richard’s).
Then he asked us where we were having lunch and he seemed really interested in discussing restaurants and he was raving about some local place, Cook’s, which apparently is in Windsor, Ontario (very close to Detroit). I must go and check that out next time I’m in town with my husband!
Then he gave me a BIG HUG and he also gave my MIL a hug and I said, “We love you!” I thanked him and also the very sweet A.D. and we said goodbye.
BEST. DAY. EVER. :: big goofy grin on my face ::
(Note: I wrote a travelogue about the whole experience that provides some backstory; it’s here.)
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