Following the philosophy of this blog as a public service, I officially inaugurate today a new category of post: “the Johns for Richard”. Given the high percentage of Johns in his career, I will bring to the attention of my readers and of the internet in general, not only another script-idea-for-free, but also another “John” suitable for Richard Armitage according to my tastes. Not all the Johns I find in my readings will be added to this category, as, for instance, John Charles McNulty, protagonist of “The Temporary Gentleman”. McNulty is a red-haired and I’m not for the compulsory dyeing given that I am still shocked by Colin Farrell’s faux-blonde in Alexander. In other cases, let’s say John of Gaunt, our man is still too young for the role (God bless him), but I will come back again to that character in 2024. Therefore, to cut a long story short, here it is my first proposal:
John Chester (in Barnaby Rudge – Charles Dickens)
I am sorry if the first role proposed is a “bad guy”, but, as Richard himself says that he has the face suitable to play the bad guys (another of those adorable lies he likes to tell, as the one that he can’t do voices) here we have the epitome of evil: John Chester is absolutely heartless and wicked. Barnaby Rudge was the first novel of Charles Dickens and, together with “Tale of Two Cities”, the only historical romance. It takes place in London, in 1780, during the so-called Gordon Riots, an anti-catholic revolt lead by Lord George Gordon and that caused 300 dead.
In his first appearance in the novel, the knight John Chester receives with complete indifference and rather annoyed the news that his son Edward has been assaulted by an outlaw and badly hurt. He refers to his offspring as someone with “his head quite empty” and sends away the person who gave him the information with the excuse that his coffee was getting cold and that he detests to drink cold coffee. He then forbids his son to marry with the girl he loves and mislead deliberately the girl and her uncle informing them that Edward is about to marry a rich heiress. When his son, rather than obey his father runs away for the West Indies, he simply shrugs his shoulders.
John Chester succeeds years later to become a member of the parliament, and, thanks to the uproar of the Gordon Riots (kindled also by himself in order to present himself afterwards as a saviour of the law and order) becomes a very important figure in the government, but… as most of the wicked characters in XIXth century novels he faces a destiny equal to his deeds.
Barnaby Rudge is a choral novel, with different stories and sub plots within it, but a good actor can make a terrific work in it even without coping the screen continuously for three hours. As has done John MacKay for the BBC Radio 4 Drama [great, great, great, GREAT! actor], here you have two samples: an example of a typically-Chester sentence, and Chester’s final scene.