Sam Riley

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Sam Riley
Sam Riley Das finstere Tal Wien 2014 (cropped).jpg
Riley in February 2014
Born (1980-01-08) 8 January 1980 (age 43)
  • Actor
  • singer
Years active2002–present
(m. 2009)

Samuel Peter W. Riley (born 8 January 1980)[1] is an English actor and singer.[2] He is best known for his performance in the 2007 biographical film Control about the life of Ian Curtis, as protagonist Sal Paradise in the 2012 adaptation of the Jack Kerouac novel On the Road, and as Diaval in the 2014 film Maleficent. Riley received renown for his portrayal of the Fitzwilliam Darcy in the 2016 film Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

Early life[edit]

Riley was born in Menston, Bradford, West Yorkshire, the son of Amanda, a nursery school teacher, and Andrew Riley, a textile agent.[2][3] He was educated at Malsis School, Cross Hills, and at Uppingham School.[2]



His breakthrough performance came when he played the role of Ian Curtis in the film Control, a biopic about the lead singer of the 1970s post-punk band Joy Division.[2] The film received high critical acclaim due in good part to Riley's performance,[4] which won him a selection of awards including the British Independent Film Award for "Most Promising Newcomer"[5] a BAFTA "Rising Star" nomination;[2] and a Mark Kermode nod for Best Actor 2007.

Prior to his portrayal of Ian Curtis, Riley played the Fall frontman Mark E. Smith in the Michael Winterbottom film 24 Hour Party People, which details the Factory Records era and featured Sean Harris as Ian Curtis.[2] Riley's scenes, however, were omitted from the final cut.[2]

In September 2007, Riley was cast in Gerald McMorrow's British science fiction film Franklyn. He starred as the lead role in 13, an English language remake of the French thriller 13 Tzameti that has yet to have an American and European release. He played the role of Pinkie Brown in Brighton Rock alongside Helen Mirren, an adaption of Graham Greene's novel,[6] released 4 February 2011.[2] He also starred in Walter Salles' film adaptation of Jack Kerouac's autobiographical On the Road playing the narrator and protagonist Sal Paradise.[2] He also has a small role in the 2011 German comedy Woman in Love [de], in which his wife Alexandra Maria Lara plays the female lead. His role is listed as "Wagenmeister".

In Byzantium (2012), a film directed by Neil Jordan, he appears alongside Gemma Arterton and Saoirse Ronan as Darvell.

In 2012, Riley was cast as Diaval in Disney's Maleficent, alongside Angelina Jolie.[4] The film was released May 2014.

In 2015, he played Benoit Labarie in Saul Dibb's film adaptation of Irène Némirovsky's novel Suite Française, opposite Michelle Williams, Matthias Schoenaerts, Kristin Scott Thomas and Ruth Wilson.

Riley was also cast as Fitzwilliam Darcy (Mr. Darcy) in the film, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,[7] released in February 2016.

Riley played the 'not-so welcome' returning prodigal brother David in the 2018 film Happy New Year, Colin Burstead[8] by Ben Wheatley.


He featured in the autumn/winter 2008 publicity campaign for the British fashion house Burberry, supervised by Christopher Bailey and shot by Mario Testino.[9] He modelled the fall/winter 2014 Stefano Pilati-designed couture collection of Ermenegildo Zegna.[10] He was named one of GQ's 50 best dressed British men in 2015.[11]


For a few years Riley was the lead singer of the Leeds band 10,000 Things, with whom he achieved moderate success. After their first release on indie label Voltage Records in 2002, they signed to major label Polydor for one self-titled album.[2] They disbanded in 2005.

Personal life[edit]

As of 2011, Riley lives in Berlin with his wife, Romanian-German actress Alexandra Maria Lara.[2] They met while filming Control, married in August 2009 and have a son born in January 2014.[12][13][14]


Year Title Role Notes
2007 Control Ian Curtis Bratislava International Film Festival Award for Best Actor
British Independent Film Award for Most Promising Newcomer
Chicago International Film Festival Award for Best Actor
Edinburgh International Film Festival Award for Best British Performance
Empire Award for Best Newcomer
Kermode Award for Best Actor[15]
International Cinephile Society Award for Best Actor[16]
London Film Critics Circle Award for British Breakthrough of the Year – Acting
Nominated – BAFTA AwardsRising Star Award
Nominated – British Independent Film Award for Best Actor
Nominated – Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Actor
Nominated – London Film Critics Circle Award for British Actor of the Year
Nominated – Online Film Critics Society Award for Breakthrough Performer
2008 Franklyn Milo
2010 13 Vincent Ferro
2010 Brighton Rock Pinkie Brown Nominated – Evening Standard British Film Award for Best Actor
2012 On the Road Sal Paradise
2012 Byzantium Darvell
2014 The Dark Valley Greider
2014 Maleficent Diaval
2015 Suite Française Benoit Labarie
2016 Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Fitzwilliam Darcy
2016 Free Fire Stevo
2017 SS-GB Douglas Archer BBC One mini series
2018 Happy New Year, Colin Burstead David
2018 Sometimes Always Never Peter
2019 Radioactive Pierre Curie
2019 Maleficent: Mistress of Evil Diaval
2020 Rebecca Jack Favell
2021 The Vault James
TBA She Is Love TBA Post-production[17]
TBA Firebrand Thomas Seymour Filming


  1. ^ "UPI Almanac for Monday, Jan. 8, 2018". United Press International. 8 January 2018. Archived from the original on 8 January 2018. Retrieved 21 September 2019. …actor Sam Riley in 1980 (age 38)
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k James Mottram: The only people for me are the mad ones. Independent on Sunday: The New Review, 30 January 2011, pp 10–13
  3. ^ Hardaker, Andrea (11 October 2007). "Chance phone call brought fame to a Menston lad". Ilkley Gazette. Retrieved 22 May 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. ^ a b Wollaston, Sam (18 June 2020). "Sam Riley: 'The closer I got to fame, the more frightened I was of it'". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 February 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ "BIFA Winners 2007". British Independent Film Awards. 28 November 2007. Archived from the original on 26 November 2007. Retrieved 1 December 2007.
  6. ^ "Sam Riley shot to fame as the doomed Ian Curtis in Control. Now he's playing creepy Pinkie in Brighton Rock". The Guardian. 12 January 2011. Retrieved 9 February 2021.
  7. ^ Panos, Maggie (24 September 2014). "In: Sam Riley". POPSUGAR Entertainment. Retrieved 9 February 2021.
  8. ^ "Happy New Year, Colin Burstead (2018) - IMDb". Retrieved 31 July 2020.
  9. ^ Millar, Jamie; GQ; Sam Riley Exclusive!, February 2011. Archived 7 February 2011 at the Wayback Machine; retrieved 9 February 2011.
  10. ^ Stefano Pilati concept
  11. ^ "50 Best Dressed Men in Britain 2015". GQ. 5 January 2015.
  12. ^ "Alexandra Maria Lara: Endlich ist der Name ihres Babys raus!" [Alexandra Maria Lara- Her baby's name is finally out!]. (in German). 13 February 2014. Retrieved 22 May 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  13. ^ "Nachwuchs: Berlinerin Alexandra Maria Lara freut sich über einen Sohn" [Alexandra Maria Lara from Berlin is happy to have a son]. Morgenpost. 7 January 2014. Retrieved 16 June 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  14. ^ "Alexandra Maria Lara & Sam Riley – Baby-Geschlecht bekannt" [Alexandra Maria Lara & Sam Riley - It's a boy!]. Ok magazin. 1 June 2014. Retrieved 16 June 2014.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  15. ^ "Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood Scoops Movie Award". Gigwise.
  16. ^ "2008 ICS AWARD WINNERS". International Cinephile Society.
  17. ^ Lang, Brent (20 April 2021). "Haley Bennett, Sam Riley Starring in Improvisational Romance 'She Is Love' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved 21 April 2021.

External links[edit]