People like Phillipa Boyens, a Hobbit bigwig, rave about the Armitage:
But even more important for her was that Armitage, like Thorin, exuded decency, strength and goodness, but with a slight dark obsession underneath.
"There's a self-awareness of it, too, which is really interesting because that's also the character," Boyens says. "He's got real depth, genuinely, as an actor. He's just going to keep getting better and better.
I take this statement largely as truth. It has been reiterated more than once and therefore validated. So, let us go from there.
Jane, in the comments below, responding to the possibility that the Armitage is basing himself in New York, reasonably posits the idea, which I have never considered, that maybe we don't know the 'Leicester bloke'. Maybe he does not aspire to what we expect from him or aspire for him- that he does not aspire to thespian greatness, but rather to conquer Hollywood. This has been an eye opener for me, because it's the only argument that resolves for me the cognitive dissonance that I've been experiencing between his seeming humility and his (to me) strange ambition. Perhaps he aims so much lower than some of us do for him, simply and linearly hoping for work, making it shine and making a splash also. And there does seem to be a disparity between his stated ardour for future theatre work and nothing happening, for years and years and years.
In this case, and as I see it, the Hollywood stylist's clothing permutations project varied international roles for him as in, "Here I am, dressed like an American, see me as an American, I can play one." Or, "Here I am as a Brit, I can play a Brit, I can even play buttoned down and/or suave". Or, "Look at my (lordy oh lordy) tight skinny jeans, my unlaced high top boots, I am cool and trendy, too". To me it all suggests a concerted signal to Hollywood and the audience at large about his image potential as an actor. But even here, he is playing a role. And to me without the authenticity, he remains desexed not only visually, but because it seems so manufactured. As another commenter mentioned, he also tends toward action man roles now. His buff, I think, is a large American buff, straight from Gold's gym, no longer the lean buff of Guy of Gisborne.
On the other hand, anony-mouses below also argue that his talk about being physically close to theatre in New York is about more than just having a desire to attend it, that his craving for the thespian's life is real but he has to keep his eye on the opportunities out there so he can finally get there, when he has money and time to pursue the gems that purportedly exist in Hollywoodland and maybe New York, particularly the stage.
I think that either of these interpretations is possible. Given the Armitage's growing elusiveness in terms of presenting himself in an upfront manner (thank you PR and agent stonewalls), it becomes progressively harder to get a grasp on the real RA, in my opinion. Some things, at this point, don't add up for me. His history has been one of scrabbling for jobs and I'm guessing that still continues. Another anonymous has pointed this out. And I wonder if perhaps it is fear that drives him. I wouldn't be surprised. And certainly, I'm guessing, that "dark obsession". Perhaps his substance as a human being, with all this image mongering, slowly fades away as the dark obsession finds foothold. "My precious".
Another anonymous proposed an alternate reality: that the only real thing now is the acting and that the rest is far less believable and interesting.