Richard Armitage is not the kind of celebrity you would expect. In fact, he does not seem to want to be a celebrity at all. Instead, Richard is just a man passionate about his craft (something he just so happens to excel at).
We sat down to chat one beautiful winter morning in NYC (over zoom of course) and dove right in, exploring his exciting projects ahead, meeting Prince William, and where he hopes to go next.
We begin with our opening question, “What does being a Nobleman mean to you?” Richard’s answer does not disappoint. “I think it’s possibly the same as being a gentleman,” he muses, “I think nobility has to do with dignity and grace and the way you handle yourself with other people. I believe in all of those qualities.” This answer is fitting for a guy like Armitage, whose quiet, assured disposition puts everyone at ease. Being a nobleman seems to come naturally to him, a rare trait that makes him all the more special.
Richard got his start in the circus, an unconventional place for a career break. “To get an equity card, which is the union card in order to work,” Richard recounts, “I needed a professional contract, and that took me to Budapest, which was sort of my first taste of show business. So I worked there for a number of months and then slowly moved from live theater into television, into film. And culminated in a stint in New Zealand on The Hobbit at the age of 40, so it’s been a good upward trajectory, I’d say.”
He names his role as Thorin Oakenshield in The Hobbit as the part responsible for his proudest moment as an actor. “When my parents came to The Hobbit premiere in London, they met Prince William, who was there for the premiere. And, you know, he goes around and shakes everybody’s hand, and my mom was standing behind me. And then at the end of the movie, as he was leaving, he sort of touched me on the shoulder and said, “that was a great performance,” and my mom – I could feel her visibly shaking. And it was probably one of my proudest moments. I’d say.”
The conversation turns to current projects, and we dive into his role in the new drama miniseries, Stay Close. “It’s a Harlan Coben adaptation,” Richard reveals, “The second project that I’ve worked on with him and Netflix, and it’s kind of twisty turny thriller about a woman whose past comes back to haunt her after being buried for 17 years.”
Stay Close will be available on Netflix starting in 2022, a mysterious thriller that is sure to be an automatic binge. “It’s all about identity and reinvention and who we really are and who we try to hide,” Richard reflects, “I play a photographer called Ray Levine, who is very much connected to her past and a shocking event that happened 17 years ago. It’s so my cup of tea,” he laughs, “I mean, I love working from adaptations of great books, and so that was just perfect.”
Richard reveals how the pandemic affected shooting for the new series. “We shot it in Blackpool, which is a sort of coastal resort. And we started the shoot in full lockdown, it was almost like a ghost town,” he explains. “And then we went back much later in the shoot and everything had reopened. There was a big football tournament happening in the UK and it was the first time that the crew was actually able to go to an outdoor pub and drink together and watch this amazing football final. For me, that was a really memorable moment,” he smiles.
As far as the future, Richard reveals his passions lie in producing. “During lockdown I started a production company and I’m developing and adapting novels,” he reveals. “I’m working on a crime series at the moment which involves about eight books by Joy Ellis, the Jackman and Evans series.”
We chat about his plans for the future and his favorite ways to escape from his busy professional life. “My favorite city is London, but I’ll need to go somewhere much quieter as I get older,” he laughs. “Being recognizable can be quite difficult,” he muses, “especially when you’re on vacation because you can never really relax.” As someone who values the chance to get away from it all, Richard found an escape in skiing. “It’s perfect because you’re wearing a helmet, goggles, and a mask, it was a way for me to have this release, and a holiday without too much hassle.”
Richard Armitage is a true Nobleman, a down-to-earth guy who became an actor not for the fame, but because he truly loves it. With a range of incredible roles under his belt, we can’t wait to see what he does next.
Vacation Spot: Top of a mountain in the French Alps
Food: Cheese fondue (preferably on top of a mountain)
Movie: Raiders of The Lost Ark
Designer: Todd Snyder
Words of advice: Treat other people as you would like to be treated.
Words by Emma Ungaro | Photos by Kaitlyn Mikayla