Richard Armitage (actor)
Richard Armitage in New York City, December 2012
|Born||Richard Crispin Armitage
22 August 1971
Huncote, Leicester, Leicestershire, England, UK
Richard Crispin Armitage (born 22 August 1971) is an English actor famous for his roles as John Thornton in North & South, Guy of Gisborne in Robin Hood and Lucas North in Spooks. He plays Thorin Oakenshield in the three-film adaptation of The Hobbit.
Early life 
Born in Leicester, England, Richard 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. He gained A Levels in music and English.
At 17, he joined a circus in Budapest for six weeks to gain his Equity Card. After returning to England, he 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.
Dissatisfied with this career path in musical theatre, he enrolled at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) to further study acting. “I had started on a certain road in musical theatre and I was about 21 when I suddenly thought this is not quite the right path I am taking. 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.”
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. In 2002 he starred in the Charm Offensive's production of Use Me As Your Cardigan.
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.” After this he took a variety of 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 and South. Armitage said that he felt personally drawn to the role. "My father's family were weavers and spinners. It was where I came from and it was exciting to think I could be a part of it." He also 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."
In 2005, he played Peter MacDuff in Macbeth in the BBC's ShakespeaRe-Told series and appeared one episode of Inspector Lynley Mysteries called "In Divine Proportion" as a recovering gambling addict, Phillip Turner. Richard also 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. He also played his first substantial role in movies with the independent film Frozen.
In 2006, Armitage took on the major role of Guy of Gisborne in the BBC series Robin Hood. "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." "I have to say I think baddies are always the most fun to play because you get to be rude and aggressive and you get to do things that you can't really do in everyday life. We have to be civilised and nice and polite. And when you play the bad guys you get to play all those notes of your personality. There's a little bit of me in Guy, I think, sort of the aggressiveness. No, it's great fun; I love it." 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 starred in George Gently, a detective drama, with Martin Shaw and Lee Ingleby. Armitage played biker Ricky Deeming. 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 for series 7 which began on 27 October 2008, in the UK, as the character Lucas North. "On the surface Lucas is an amiable character but eight years in a Russian prison has had a profound effect on him. His personality is divided between who he was before he was imprisoned, the prisoner, and the person he has become. He has an outer facade which is personable, but underneath is someone who has been through a big trauma... He has no knowledge of how damaged he is emotionally until memories start to work their way to the surface." "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." During the filming of series 7 Armitage allowed himself to be subjected to waterboarding in order to film a flashback sequence. 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.
In May 2010 he starred as former S.A.S. trooper John Porter in Strike Back for Sky 1. On playing John Porter Armitage stated, "On paper it is pretty obvious what kind of drama Strike Back is, but the driving challenge for me and the scriptwriters and directors was to find the emotional centre of John Porter. How does a man become a trained killer and then go home and put his arms around his wife and rock his baby daughter to sleep? How can a soldier not have a conscience about what he is being asked to do?" Elsewhere he said, "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 goes in search of atonement still believing he did the right thing even though it cost the lives of three of his friends... I admire the tenacity of standing up and saying "I made a mistake, I'm going to take the consequences. I'm going to search out the reason it was a mistake." There's anger and there's injustice. It's like, "I did the right thing, with the wrong outcome.""
Sky1 and Cinemax commissioned a second series of Strike Back called Strike Back: Project Dawn. It began broadcasting in August 2011. However, because of his commitments to filming The Hobbit Armitage appears only as a guest star in the first episode of the second series.
Armitage appeared as Nazi spy Heinz Kruger in the Captain America: The First Avenger film, released in July 2011. He gave even this small role his full commitment to realizing the character. "I wanted to play someone who completely believed what they were doing. So I found this biography of a guy called Erich Gimpel, who had been sent in to sabotage the Manhattan Project. It's a fascinating book, and it helped me to not just think, "Destroy, destroy, destroy." I had to conceive of my side being the right side, when it was so clearly wrong."
In October 2010, Peter Jackson announced Armitage was cast as Thorin Oakenshield in the three-film production of The Hobbit. Principal photography began in May of 2011. The first film, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, was released in December 2012. When asked about playing the iconic character, Armitage replied, "I just think it is a really amazing opportunity to take a character from a book that I was brought to as a child and that I was, I mean my first experience on stage was in a production of The Hobbit at the Alex Theatre in Birmingham and I played an elf... so it’s kind of been there in my kind of childhood very prominently so to come to it as an adult... and have another look at it is a brilliant opportunity."  On the character of Thorin, he stated, "With my character in The Hobbit there's this emotional explosion and suppressed anger, and I'm trying to work out whether I have that in me or whether I'm going to have to imagine it. I guess there's a dangerous place, my own darkness, that I don't access in life but have the ability to go 'alright, just for this role, I'll just open this door and have a peek'." 
In 2012 it was announced that Armitage had been cast in Black Sky from New Line. His character is Gary Morris, a school teacher with two teenage sons. Shooting took place July through September of 2012. A release date has not been set yet.
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 a total of ten audio books; six based on based on BBC's "Robin Hood," 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 also narrated many 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" among others. In 2011, he provided the narration for a series about Royal Navy flagship, the HMS Ark Royal, "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 is said to be involved in a drama based about Richard III. "I was named Richard being born on the anniversary of Richard III’s demise at Bosworth; one of my father’s favourite novels is The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman, and I read this many years ago. In recent years it has led to a tentative interest and line of research into the rehabilitation of this story. As an actor, it’s a project I would love to achieve. I believe it is a great story, a socio-political thriller, a love story and a dynastic tragedy." "There’s a darkness and mystery to Richard. I like the idea of someone who is not ambitious, but gets put on the fast track to the crown and almost finds himself there against his instincts.” "I've got a script in development, well, it isn't mine, but it's about Richard III... there's too much to tell, let's do twenty episodes then we can tell all of the story... sort of a long-running "Wars of the Roses" kind of thing... I know a lot of people that are interested [in producing it], but there is no one that will step on the gas. Quite. Nearly there, nearly there." 
Acting style 
Richard Armitage once 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." He has also spoken of dreaming in character while playing John Porter and Thorin Oakenshield. However, recently he rejected the label of "method actor". "I wouldn't describe myself as a method actor. I think other people apply that label. 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."
He frequently speaks of being drawn to and developing dualism in his characters. “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.” He has often said that 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.”
Theatre (selection) 
- 1998: Hamlet as Bernardo
- 1999: The Four Alice Bakers as Young Ritchie
- 1999: Macbeth (Royal Shakespeare Company) as Angus
- 2000: The Duchess of Malfi (Royal Shakespeare Company) as Delio
- 2002: Use Me As Your Cardigan (Charm Offensive) as Jez
- 2010: Twenty-Four Hour Plays Celebrity Gala (The Old Vic) as Dennis/Himself
|1995||Boon||Man in pub||Uncredited|
|2001||Doctors||Dr. Tom Steele||2 episodes: 'Good Companions', 'Cat's Out of the Bag'|
|Casualty||Craig Parker||1 episode: 'Playing with Fire'|
|2002||Sparkhouse||John Standring||BBC drama|
|2003||Cold Feet||Lee||4 episodes|
|Ultimate Force||Capt. Ian Macalwain||5 episodes|
|Between the Sheets||Paul Andrews||Mini-series|
|2004||North and South||John Thornton||4 episodes|
|2005||The Inspector Lynley Mysteries||Philip Turner||1 episode: 'In Divine Proportion'|
|Malice Aforethought||William Chatford||ITV drama|
|The Golden Hour||Dr. Alec Track||4 episodes|
|2006||The Impressionists||Young Claude Monet|
|2006–2007||Vicar of Dibley||Harry Kennedy||3 episodes|
|2006–2009||Robin Hood||Guy of Gisborne||37 episodes|
|2007||Inspector George Gently||Ricky Deeming||1 episode|
|Miss Marie Lloyd – Queen of The Music Hall||Percy Courtney||BBC drama|
|Agatha Christie's Marple: Ordeal by Innocence||Philip Durrant||ITV drama|
|2008-2010||Spooks||Lucas North||25 episodes|
|2009||Moving On||John Mulligan||1 episode: 'Drowning not Waving'|
|2010||Strike Back||John Porter||6 episodes|
|2011||Strike Back: Project Dawn||John Porter||1 episode: 'Episode 1'|
|1999||This Year's Love||Smug Man at Party|
|Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace||Bravo Fighter Pilot|
|2011||Captain America: The First Avenger||Heinz Kruger|
|2012||The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey||Thorin Oakenshield||Pending SFX Award For Best Actor|
|2013||Black Sky||Gary Morris|
|2013||The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug||Thorin Oakenshield|
|2014||The Hobbit: There and Back Again||Thorin Oakenshield|
Public appearances 
- 2003: RI:SE (17 November 2003)
- 2004: GMTV (12 November 2004)
- 2006: Jonathan Ross's World of Robin Hood
- 2006: National TV Awards (1 November 2006)
- 2006: BAFTA Children's Awards (26 November 2006)
- 2007: BAFTA TV Awards (20 May 2007)
- 2007: GMTV (3 October 2007)
- 2007: The Five Women in Film and Television Awards (7 December 2007)
- 2008: This Morning (27 October 2008)
- 2008: BBC One Breakfast Show (27 October 2008)
- 2008: The Story of the Costume Drama (3 December 2008)
- 2009: BBC Showcase (report in the BBC One Breakfast Show) (25 February 2009)
- 2009: GMTV (25 March 2009)
- 2009: BAFTA TV Awards (26 April 2009)
- 2010: GMTV (4 May 2010)
- 2010: BAFTA TV Awards (6 June 2010)
- 2012: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey press conferences and premieres in Wellington, Tokyo, Toronto, New York City, and London
- 2012: ARIA Awards (29 November 2012)
- 2012: Marilyn Denis Show (3 December 2012)
- 2012: George Stroumboulopoulos's TV Show (3 December 2012)
- 2012: Today Show (6 and 7 December 2012)
- 2012: Anderson Live (14 December 2012)
- 2006: Robin Hood: Will You Tolerate This?
- 2006: Robin Hood: Sheriff Got Your Tongue?
- 2006: Robin Hood: Who Shot The Sheriff?
- 2006: Robin Hood: Parent Hood
- 2007: The Lords of the North by Bernard Cornwell
- 2009: Robin Hood: The Witch Finders
- 2009: Robin Hood: The Siege
- 2009: Sylvester by Georgette Heyer
- 2010: Venetia by Georgette Heyer
- 2010: The Convenient Marriage by Georgette Heyer
Other credits 
- 2006: CBeebies: Bedtime Hour (9–13 October 2006)
- 2007: Channel 4: Empire's Children, narrator (2 July 2007)
- 2007: BBC Radio 4: The Ted Hughes Letters, as Ted Hughes (29 October 2007)
- 2007: BBC Radio 2: A War Less Ordinary, narrator (10 November 2007)
- 2009: ITV1: Homes from Hell, as narrator (3 March 2009)
- 2009: Channel 4: The Great Sperm Race, as narrator (23 March 2009)
- 2010–2011: Voice-over for Santander TV and radio adverts
- 2010: BBC 2: The Natural World, Forest Elephants: Rumbles in the Jungle, as narrator
- 2010: BBC Radio 4: Clarissa: The History of a Young Lady, as Robert Lovelace (14 March 2010)
- 2010–2011: Voice-over for Sky Sports HD TV and radio adverts
- 2010: Voice-over for General Election 2010 Leaders' Debates radio adverts
- 2010: Voice-over for BBC Winter Olympics TV and Radio Adverts
- 2010: Voice-over for Alfa Romeo Mito TV advert
- 2010: Voice-over for John Bull Jewelers radio adverts
- 2010: ITV: Surgery School, as narrator.
- 2010: BBC Radio 3: Words and Music: Symphony of a City as narrator (12 September 2010).
- 2010: Voice-over for Hyundai ix20 TV advert
- 2010: BBC: Lost Land of the Tiger, as narrator.
- 2011: BBC: Elsa: The Lioness That eChanged the World, as narrator.
- 2010: Voice-over for ActionAidUK TV advert
- 2011: Voice-over for Pilsner Urquell TV advert
- 2011: Discovery Channel U.K.: HMS Ark Royal, as narrator
- 2011: Eden Channel: Trouble in Lemur Land: Phantoms of the Forest, as narrator
- 2011: BBC2: 125 Years of Wimbledon: You Cannot Be Serious, as narrator.
- 2011: Voice-over for LG Optimus 3D Smartphone TV advert
- 2011: ITV: Fraud Squad, as narrator
- 2011: National Geographic Wild: Leopards of Dead Tree island, as narrator.
- 2012: ITV: Fraud Squad, series two, as narrator
- Collins, Gemma. "Our Very Own All-Action Hero", Leicestershire and Rutland Life, November 2009, p. 54
- Brett, Anwar. "Northern Exposure," Vivid Magazine, Spring 2005, p. # not noted
- Nicol, Patricia. "Move over Darcey". The Sunday Times, 30 April 2006. Retrieved on 22 March 2008.
- "Interview on GMTV with Lorraine Kelly". GMTV. 3 October 2007.
- Hemley, Matthew. "Tackling a Tough Shoot," The Stage, 6 May 2010, p. 30
- Hendry, Steve. "I Rarely Turn Down Work After Years of Struggling". Daily Record, 24 October 2009.
- Hall, Jane. "Stepping Out of the Shadows". icNewcastle, 6 December 2004.
- Press Office. "Robin Hood Arrows In for a Second Series". BBC, 21 September 2007.
- Wagner, Curt. "Richard Armitage Loves Being Hateful as 'Robin Hood' Bully Sir Guy," Chicago Now: Show Patrol, 27 April 2008.
- McMullen, Marion. "The Armitage Files," Coventry Telegraph: Weekend, 2 October 2008, p. 27
- Cope, Samantha. "I'd Make a Rubbish Spy," Sunday People, 26 October 2008, p. 16
- Foster, Patrick (27 October 2008). "BBC to Show Real Life Torture of Spooks Actor Who Endured Waterboarding for Authenticity". The Times (London).
- Wightman, Catriona (13 September 2011). "'Spooks' Peter Firth interview: 'They won't kill Harry off'". Digital Spy. Retrieved 16 September 2011.
- Dickson, Jane. "Tough Act," Readers Digest, U.K., May 2010, p. 38
- Stephenson, David. "Hero of a Special Force," Sunday Express, May 2, 2010. p. # not listed.
- Hale, Mike. "In Between the Terrorist Threats, Plenty of Time for Hanky-Panky," New York Times, 11 August 2011.
- Woodfin, Josh. "World's Tallest Dwarf," Project Magazine, 15 July 2011.
- Jensen, Jeff. "An Exclusive First Look at 'Captain America: The First Avenger'. Entertainment Weekly. Time Warner, 5 November 2010.
- Wicks, Kevin. "Aidan Turner, Richard Armitage Set For Peter Jackson’s ‘The Hobbit’," BBC: America, 21 October 2010.
- "The Hobbit media conference – full video". 3 News. Retrieved 5 November 2011.
- Wyllie, Alice. "Interview: Richard Armitage, Actor," The Scotsman, 25 July 2011.
- Briggs, Moira. "In Conversation With: Richard Armitage," Vulpis Libris, 8 July 2009.
- 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.
- Phillips, Emily. "Armitage Talks Strike Back," Screenrush, 29 April 2010.
- Maher, Kevin (18 October 2008). "Richard Armitage joins the cast of Spooks". The Times (London).
- Rottenberg, Josh (11 July 2012). "'Hobbit' star Richard Armitage lands major role in tornado thriller -- EXCLUSIVE". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 11 July 2012.
- What's On TV
- The Great Sperm Race
- BBC Radio 4
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