Richard Armitage (actor)

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Richard Armitage
Richard Armitage 2014 (cropped).jpg
Armitage at WonderCon 2014
BornRichard Crispin Armitage
(1971-08-22) 22 August 1971 (age 43)
Huncote, Leicestershire, England
Years active1988–present
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Richard Armitage
Richard Armitage 2014 (cropped).jpg
Armitage at WonderCon 2014
BornRichard Crispin Armitage
(1971-08-22) 22 August 1971 (age 43)
Huncote, Leicestershire, England
Years active1988–present

Richard Crispin Armitage (born 22 August 1971) is an English actor known for his roles as John Thornton on the British television programme North & South, Guy of Gisborne in the TV drama Robin Hood, Lucas North in the TV drama Spooks, John Porter in the TV drama Strike Back and as Thorin Oakenshield in the feature film trilogy adaptation of The Hobbit.

Early life[edit]

Armitage was born in Leicester, England, the son of Margaret, a secretary, and John Armitage, an engineer.[1] Armitage attended Huncote Community Primary School in Huncote, Blaby District, Leicestershire. Later at Brockington College in Enderby he studied music, playing the cello in school and local orchestras as well as learning how to play the flute. He pursued this interest to Pattison College in Coventry, where his education expanded to include dance and acting.[2] He gained A Levels in music and English.[3]


After completing the program at Pattinson College, he joined a circus in Budapest for six weeks to gain his Equity Card.[4][5] He returned to England and pursued a career in musical theatre, performing in various productions, including the ensembles of 42nd Street and Annie Get Your Gun and in Cats as Admetus and Macavity. He also pursued acting in dramatic theatre productions, including The Real Thing, Six Degrees of Separation and Death of a Salesman.[6]

Dissatisfied with his career path, he enrolled at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) to further study acting.[7] “I needed to do something a bit more truthful than musical theatre. For me it was a bit too theatrical and all about standing on stage and showing off. I was looking for something else, so that’s why I went back to drama school.”[8]

After completing LAMDA's three-year programme he returned to the stage as a supporting player with the Royal Shakespeare Company's productions of Macbeth and The Duchess of Malfi, as well as Hamlet and Four Alice Bakers with the Birmingham Repertory Theatre while taking a series of small roles in television and films.[9] In 2002 he starred in the Charm Offensive's production of Use Me As Your Cardigan.[10]

That same year he appeared in his first major television role, as John Standring in the BBC drama Sparkhouse (2002). "It was the first time I went to an audition in character. It was a minor role but it was something I really got my teeth into... I couldn't go back. I knew I had to approach everything the same way."[11] After this he took supporting roles in the TV productions of Between the Sheets, Cold Feet (series 5), and Ultimate Force (Series 2).

In 2004, he appeared in his first leading role as textile mill owner John Thornton in the BBC adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell's North & South. Armitage said that he felt personally drawn to the role, as his father's family had been weavers. He cited Thornton's dualism as drawing him to the character. "The dichotomy between the powerful, almost monstrous, entrepreneur and this kind of vulnerable boy is exciting for me to look at."[12]

Richard Armitage at the 2010 BAFTA TV Awards

In 2005, he played Peter MacDuff in Macbeth in the BBC's ShakespeaRe-Told series and appeared as a recovering gambling addict in one episode of Inspector Lynley Mysteries. He starred in The Impressionists, playing the young Claude Monet, and as Dr Alec Track in ITV's The Golden Hour, a medical series based on the London Air Ambulance. His first substantial role in movies was in the independent film Frozen.

In 2006, Armitage was cast as Guy of Gisborne in the BBC series Robin Hood.[11] "In order to sustain the character of Guy, you have to find the conflict within him. He's constantly pulled between good and evil, between who he wants to be and who he actually is. He could have been a good man, but he is forever dragged down by his fatal flaw – that he wants glory at all costs."[13] Approaching the third series, he said, "I do love playing him, but with a character like Gisborne, if you give him what he needs, then in a way, it's over. That character is only interesting when he isn't getting what he wants, whether it's power, money or the girl."[14] The third and final series of Robin Hood started on 28 March 2009.

Armitage appeared in a two-part 2006 Christmas special of The Vicar of Dibley, as Harry Kennedy, the vicar's new love interest (and eventual husband). He reprised the role in 2007 for Red Nose Day. On 8 April 2007, he played biker Ricky Deeming in the detective drama George Gently with Martin Shaw and Lee Ingleby. On 9 May 2007, he appeared in the BBC Four production of Miss Marie Lloyd – Queen of The Music Hall playing Marie Lloyd's first husband, Percy Courtenay. He also appeared in the Granada TV production of Agatha Christie's novel Ordeal by Innocence as the character Philip Durrant.

Armitage joined the cast of Spooks as the character Lucas North for series 7, which began on 27 October 2008 in the UK. Armitage notes that the character, who spent eight years in a Russian prison, has a personable exterior, but is psychologically damaged.[15] "I love films with a combination of action and good characters. That's why Lucas is interesting as I get to play someone with a complex psychology who goes out there and tries to save the world."[16] During the filming of series 7 Armitage allowed himself to be subjected to waterboarding to film a flashback sequence.[17] In July 2010, Armitage completed filming of series 9, his final series. In the series, his character's real name was revealed as John Bateman, who had murdered the real Lucas North shortly before North began employment with MI5. Bateman had stolen North's identity and taken his place.[18]

On 20 May 2009, Armitage appeared in the BBC1 drama Moving On as John Mulligan.

In May 2010 he starred as former S.A.S. trooper John Porter in Strike Back for Sky1. Armitage found the main challenge of the role was to show how the character resolved being a trained killer with having a family and home life.[19] "In the end it was the character I was attracted to, the story of a man who makes a decision under pressure and that decision has a knock-on effect on his whole life," he said. "He goes in search of atonement still believing he did the right thing even though it cost the lives of three of his friends... There's anger and there's injustice. It's like, 'I did the right thing, with the wrong outcome.'"[20]

Sky1 and Cinemax commissioned a second series of Strike Back called Strike Back: Project Dawn. It began broadcasting in August 2011.[21] Because of his commitments to filming The Hobbit, Armitage appeared only as a guest star in the first episode of the second series.[22]

Armitage appeared as Nazi spy Heinz Kruger in the film Captain America: The First Avenger, released in July 2011.[23]

In October 2010, Peter Jackson announced Armitage was cast as Thorin Oakenshield in the three-film production of The Hobbit.[24] Principal photography began in May 2011.[25] The first film, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, was released in December 2012. Armitage thought it was a wonderful opportunity, as he grew up reading the books. Coincidentally, his first stage part was playing an elf in a production of The Hobbit at the Alex Theatre in Birmingham.[26] He describes the character of Thorin as being complex and flawed, "somebody that had doubts and that had fears, and there was a gentle side to him and a very perhaps lonely side to him."[27] He notes the scene with Balin in Bag End shows the character's inner sensitivity and fear of failure, "failing where his father and his grandfather had failed as well."[27]

Armitage starred in Into the Storm (released in August 2014) from New Line.[28][29] His character was Gary Morris, a school teacher with two teenage sons.[30] Shooting took place from July to September 2012.[31][29]

In March 2014, he began filming an adaptation of Bernard Hare's Urban Grimshaw and the Shed Crew.[32][33] He is playing "Chop," an ex-social worker, drunk and drug addict in Britain's lowerclass who befriends the hardened delinquent Urban. No release date has been set.

Armitage appeared as John Proctor in the Old Vic production of Arthur Miller's The Crucible, directed by Yael Farber. The play ran from 21 June to 13 September 2014.[34] Armitage was awarded Best Leading Actor in a New Production of a Play by Broadwayworld:UK Awards 2014 for his performance.[35] The production will be broadcast in the cinema by Digital Theatre on 4 and 7 December 2014 in the UK and Ireland, and in other selected territories in February 2015. [36]

In October 2014, Armitage began filming a psychological thriller from writer Jack Olsen and director Elliott Lester, Sleepwalker. He plays Dr. Scott White, a senior MD at a sleep research center. No release date has been set.[37] [38]

In recent years, Armitage has also performed a great deal of voice work, such as reading poetry for various radio programmes and starring as Robert Lovelace in BBC Radio 4's production of Clarissa: A History of a Young Lady in April 2010. He has recorded ten audio books, six based on BBC's "Robin Hood", plus Bernard Cornwell's The Lords of the North and three Georgette Heyer novels for Naxos AudioBooks (Sylvester, or the Wicked Uncle, Venetia, and The Convenient Marriage). He has narrated television documentaries such as Homes From Hell, Empire's Children, Too Poor for Posh School?, The Great Sperm Race, Forest Elephants: Rumble in the Jungle, Surgery School, and Elsa: The Lioness That Changed the World. In 2011, he provided the narration for a series about the Royal Navy flagship HMS Ark Royal,[39] 125 Years of Wimbledon: You Cannot Be Serious, and Fraud Squad. He has also provided the voice over for many TV and radio advertisements.

He was hoping to star in a drama based on Richard III. Armitage was born on the anniversary of the Battle of Bosworth Field, where Richard III was killed. "I believe it is a great story, a socio-political thriller, a love story and a dynastic tragedy", he said.[40] He thinks the story has the potential to be told as a twenty-episode miniseries. A script has been in development since 2010 and "a lot of people... are interested [in producing it], but there is no one that will step on the gas."[41] Recently Armitage stated that he is still interested in the project, though he has reservations that he might be too tall and too old to play Richard III.

Acting style[edit]

Armitage has described himself as a method actor. "Yeah, I suppose I am. In a way it's slightly lazy because it means you don't have to pretend – you just have to believe. As much as it's possible to be like that I suppose I kind of do step in and out, I'm not one of these people that can't talk to other people because I'm in my character, but I kind of do stay with the character, yeah. He's always there. It's like marinating something – you're sitting in a marinade the whole time."[42] He has also spoken of dreaming in character while playing John Porter and Thorin Oakenshield.[43][44] However, recently he rejected the label of "method actor". "I think I'm a concentrating actor. So in order to do my work in the course of a day, particularly with a character like this I have to concentrate. So it's about staying in the scene, staying with my head in the scene and attempting to keep the character with me. It doesn't mean I can't have a conversation or go and make a cup of coffee. But I actually stay with the character for 18 months."[45]

He frequently speaks of developing and being drawn to dualism in his characters.[41] “If I’m offered the role of the hero, I immediately look for the antihero within!... I see everything in terms of an outer skin and an inner skin."[46] He creates "character diaries" with entire biographies for the characters he plays. "It was important to me to put in a background for my character that would be useful for the whole journey. A lot of that is secret and no one gets to read that. It's what is useful to me. If you are playing something long running and a role that has a future [beyond the initial series], it's almost like you have to plant a garden which you will need to come back to at some point. If you don't put in early, it can jar with you."[8]

Theatre (selection)[edit]


1995BoonMan in pubUncredited
1999CleopatraEpiphanesTelevision film
2001DoctorsDr. Tom Steele2 episodes: 'Good Companions', 'Cat's Out of the Bag'
2001CasualtyCraig Parker1 episode: 'Playing with Fire'
2001MacbethAngusTelevision film
2002SparkhouseJohn StandringBBC drama
2003Cold FeetLee4 episodes
2003Ultimate ForceCapt. Ian Macalwain5 episodes
2003Between the SheetsPaul AndrewsMini-series
2004North & SouthJohn Thornton4 episodes
2005The Inspector Lynley MysteriesPhilip Turner1 episode: 'In Divine Proportion'
2005Malice AforethoughtWilliam ChatfordITV drama
2005The Golden HourDr. Alec Track4 episodes
2005ShakespeaRe-ToldPeter Macduff
2006The ImpressionistsYoung Claude Monet
2006–2007The Vicar of DibleyHarry Kennedy3 episodes
2006–2009Robin HoodGuy of Gisborne37 episodes
2007Inspector George GentlyRicky Deeming1 episode
2007Miss Marie Lloyd – Queen of The Music HallPercy CourtneyBBC drama
2007Agatha Christie's Marple: Ordeal by InnocencePhilip DurrantITV drama
2008–2010SpooksLucas North25 episodes
2009Moving OnJohn Mulligan1 episode: 'Drowning not Waving'
2010Strike BackJohn Porter6 episodes
2011Strike Back: Project DawnJohn Porter1 episode
1999This Year's LoveSmug Man at Party
1999Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom MenaceBravo Fighter Pilot
1999Staged[49]Daryl Newman
2011Captain America: The First AvengerHeinz Kruger
2012The Hobbit: An Unexpected JourneyThorin Oakenshield
2013The Hobbit: The Desolation of SmaugThorin Oakenshield
2014Into the StormGary Fuller[50]
2014The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five ArmiesThorin Oakenshield
2014Urban Grimshaw and the Shed CrewChop[51]
2014SleepwalkerDr Scott White[52]


Other credits[edit]


  1. ^ "Richard Armitage Biography". 1971-08-22. Retrieved 2014-06-30. 
  2. ^ Collins, Gemma. "Our Very Own All-Action Hero", Leicestershire and Rutland Life, November 2009, p. 54
  3. ^ Brett, Anwar. "Northern Exposure," Vivid Magazine, Spring 2005, p. # not noted
  4. ^ "Interview on GMTV with Lorraine Kelly". GMTV. 3 October 2007. 
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  6. ^
  7. ^ "Richard Armitage". United Agents. Retrieved 20 November 2013. 
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  9. ^ "Richard Armitage". United Agents. Retrieved 20 November 2013. 
  10. ^ "Use Me As Your Cardigan". Charm Offensive. Retrieved 20 November 2013. 
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  12. ^ Hall, Jane (6 December 2004). "Stepping out of the shadows". icNewcastle. Archived from the original on 3 February 2005. Retrieved 20 November 2013. 
  13. ^ "Robin Hood arrows in for a second series; Richard Armitage is Guy of Gisborne". BBC Press Office. 21 September 2007. Retrieved 20 November 2013. 
  14. ^ Crook, John (16 September 2009). "No more Mr. Nice Guy when 'Robin Hood' returns". Retrieved 20 November 2013. 
  15. ^ McMullen, Marion. "The Armitage Files," Coventry Telegraph: Weekend, 2 October 2008, p. 27
  16. ^ Cope, Samantha. "I'd Make a Rubbish Spy," Sunday People, 26 October 2008, p. 16
  17. ^ Foster, Patrick (27 October 2008). "BBC to Show Real Life Torture of Spooks Actor Who Endured Waterboarding for Authenticity". The Times (London). Archived from the original on 16 June 2011. Retrieved 20 November 2013. 
  18. ^ Wightman, Catriona (13 September 2011). "'Spooks' Peter Firth interview: 'They won't kill Harry off'". Digital Spy. Retrieved 16 September 2011.
  19. ^ Dickson, Jane. "Tough Act," Readers Digest, U.K., May 2010, p. 38
  20. ^ Stephenson, David. "Hero of a Special Force," Sunday Express, 2 May 2010. p. # not listed.
  21. ^ Hale, Mike (11 August 2011). "In Between the Terrorist Threats, Plenty of Time for Hanky-Panky". New York Times. Retrieved 20 November 2013. 
  22. ^ Woodfin, Josh. "World's Tallest Dwarf," Project Magazine, 15 July 2011.
  23. ^ Jensen, Jeff (28 October 2010). "This week's cover: An exclusive first look at 'Captain America: The First Avenger'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 20 November 2013. 
  24. ^ Wicks, Kevin. (21 October 2010). "Aidan Turner, Richard Armitage Set For Peter Jackson’s ‘The Hobbit’". BBC: America. Archived from the original on 25 October 2010. Retrieved 20 November 2013. 
  25. ^ "'The Hobbit' Filming Finally Begins in New Zealand". The Hollywood Reporter. 19 March 2011. Retrieved 20 November 2013. 
  26. ^ "The Hobbit media conference – full video". 3 News. Retrieved 5 November 2011. 
  27. ^ a b "‘The Hobbit’: Richard Armitage finds Thorin Oakenshield in ‘Macbeth’". Los Angeles Times. 12 December 2012. Retrieved 20 November 2013. 
  28. ^ "New Line's Found Footage Tornado Movie Hires '127 Hours' Writer and 'The Hobbit's' Dwarven Leader | Movie News". 13 July 2012. Retrieved 20 November 2013. 
  29. ^ a b "Found-Footage Tornado Pic 'Into the Storm' to Hit Theaters August 2014". 2013-09-24. Retrieved 2014-06-30. 
  30. ^ "Twitter / Todd_Garner: @j_pineo yes. And he is amazing". Retrieved 20 November 2013. 
  31. ^ Blitchok, Dustin (22 August 2012). "'Black Sky' forming as tornado movie films around Oakland County". Oakland Press. Archived from the original on 16 October 2012. Retrieved 20 November 2013. 
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  33. ^ "Nadine Mulkerrin films Urban and the Shed Crew | Sainou Talent Agency London". 2014-03-13. Retrieved 2014-06-30. 
  34. ^ "The Crucible". 1999-02-22. Retrieved 2014-06-30. 
  35. ^ "BWW:UK Awards 2014". 2014-11-27. Retrieved 2014-12-03. 
  36. ^ "Man on Fire: Richard Armitage's explosive turn in The Crucible". 2014-12-02. Retrieved 2014-12-03. 
  37. ^ "Richard Armitage Takes The Lead Role in Elliott Lester’s Psychological Thriller, “Sleepwalker”". 2014-10-06. Retrieved 2014-12-03. 
  38. ^ "Ahna O'Reilly, Richard Armitage Rise to Thriller 'Sleepwalker'". 2014-11-18. Retrieved 2014-12-03. 
  39. ^ "HMS Ark Royal". 4 February 2011. Archived from the original on 14 February 2011. Retrieved 20 November 2013. 
  40. ^ Briggs, Moira. "In Conversation With: Richard Armitage," Vulpis Libris, 8 July 2009.
  41. ^ a b Audio Recording of "Hero of a Special Force" Interview with Richard Armitage conducted by David Stephenson of the Sunday Express, "Richard Armitage, Strike Back, Sky," 3 June 2010.
  42. ^ Phillips, Emily. "Armitage Talks Strike Back," Screenrush, 29 April 2010.
  43. ^ "Richard Armitage: ‘I was a beanpole with a nose I hadn’t grown into’". Mirror Online. 30 May 2010. Retrieved 20 November 2013. 
  44. ^ "Dreaming of Thorin – An Interview with Richard Armitage". Legendarium. Retrieved 20 November 2013. 
  45. ^ "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey – Richard Armitage (Thorin Okensheild) DVD Q&A". Retrieved 20 November 2013. 
  46. ^ Maher, Kevin (18 October 2008). "Richard Armitage joins the cast of Spooks". The Times (London). 
  47. ^ "Pinter/PROUST - 92nd Street Y - New York, NY". Retrieved 2014-06-30. 
  48. ^ "Richard Armitage set to star in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible at Old Vic". 24 April 2014. Retrieved 25 April 2014. 
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  50. ^ Rottenberg, Josh (11 July 2012). "'Hobbit' star Richard Armitage lands major role in tornado thriller – EXCLUSIVE". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 11 July 2012. 
  51. ^ "#urbanandtheshedcrew". Facebook. Retrieved 2014-06-30. 
  52. ^ "#SleepWalker". Twitter. Retrieved 2014-10-15. 
  53. ^ "What's On TV". Retrieved 2014-06-30. 
  54. ^ "The Great Sperm Race". Retrieved 2014-06-30. 
  55. ^ "BBC Radio 4". 2010-03-20. Retrieved 2014-06-30. 

External links[edit]