Richard Armitage has had a varied acting career thus far. From British television to Hollywood Blockbusters to indie dramas to theater and even narrating audiobooks. He’s a well-rounded actor who has starred in many incredible movies, TV shows, and varied genres.
One such genre he does particularly well is romance. Or at least the part of the romantic leading man!
In celebration of his talent in movies, television, and especially period drama, I thought it would be fun to revisit some of Richard Armitage’s most romantic roles in films and television.
While he’s most known in mainstream Hollywood from The Hobbit trilogy as the handsome Dwarf-King, Thorin, period drama fans first fell in love with Mr. Armitage as a romantic leading man when he starred in the surprise BBC hit North & South in 2004.
It’s since gone on to become a cult fan favorite amongst period drama aficionados. (Read all about why North & South matters in my article.)
If you’ve seen North & South, you understand how well Mr. Armitage excels in acting within a love story. Not many actors do romance better than Richard Armitage.
His deep, melodic voice, brooding stares, and excellent acting ability, mixed with onscreen charisma, help transform him into the ideal leading man.
ABOUT RICHARD ARMITAGE
Before he became the brilliant actor he is today, Richard Crispin Armitage was born on August 22, 1971, in Leicester, England. He later studied at Pattison College and LAMDA – the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art and performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
His first breakthrough role was in the Wuthering Heights adaptation, Sparkhouse, and his first lead role was in BBC’s North & South as John Thornton.
His career catapulted from there.
He also just published his first fiction book, Geneva, released exclusively in audiobook format.
So, today, I bring you 10 of Richard Armitage’s best romantic roles from movies and television.
THE BEST ROMANTIC RICHARD ARMITAGE MOVIES AND TV SHOWS
#1 NORTH & SOUTH (2004)
Could the number one choice be anything other than the brilliant North & South? Richard Armitage plays John Thornton, a mill owner who falls in love with Margaret, a young woman who moves to the North, only to have an intense dislike for it and him. It’s all a little Pride and Prejudice, yet it’s not.
Based on the classic Elizabeth Gaskell novel, the story feels part Jane Austen and part Charles Dickens but more romantic than both. It’s also got a touch of Charlotte Bronte for good measure. Meanwhile, a strike is brewing, and tensions are rising between the wealthy and the poor.
To say more would give too much away. Just know that it’s a brilliant, perfect production.
The chemistry between the two actors is magical. After watching this, you might find yourself saying, Mr. Darcy, who?
#2 THE VICAR OF DIBLEY (2006-2007)
If you’ve ever dreamed of a handsome man moving in next door who also reads books, enjoys deep conversations, and is adorably flirty and funny, then you’ll enjoy the happy ending for the beloved British comedy series, The Vicar of Dibley.
He stars in the final episodes and marries the leading lady.
Written by the consistently brilliant Richard Curtis (Love Actually, Notting Hill), it’s funny, sweet, and impossibly charming. Richard Armitage, as Harry, will leave you smiling and happy.
#3 Robin Hood (2006-2009)
If you’ve yet to see Richard Armitage in Robin Hood, you are missing out and should rectify that as soon as possible! He plays the brooding bad boy, Guy of Gisborne, who is in love with Marian.
She’s attracted to him but also wary of him due to his villainy. It’s a bit of a love triangle with Robin Hood.
Unfortunately, Guy is a little bit “too” bad sometimes, and the third season isn’t as good as the first two (although he does have a brief romance with a character named Meg), but Robin Hood is a fun watch for the whole family.
It has adventure, romance, fun characters (including a young Joanne Froggatt), and lots of smoldering stares from Richard Armitage.
#4 THE HOBBIT TRILOGY (THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY, THE DESOLATION OF SMAUG, THE BATTLE OF THE FIVE ARMIES) (2012-2014)
While technically, Richard Armitage doesn’t have a romance in the Hobbit films, he’s certainly playing a romantic figure within a story of Romanticism as the stubborn but brave dwarf king, Thorin Oakenshield.
Armitage proves he’s a star with staying power in Peter Jackson’s series of movies, bringing out all the emotions of the complex character – giving his most famous performance.
And while Armitage doesn’t have a romance, there is still a touching and memorable love story between Tauriel and Kili (an elf and a dwarf).
See our article: The Star-Crossed Epilogue Of Tauriel And Kili, for more!
#5 UNCLE VANYA (2020)
The theater adaptation of Chekhov’s tragicomedy (that premiered as a movie on PBS’ Great Performances) is exquisite and riveting to watch.
Richard Armitage plays the role of Astrov, a country doctor, bored and lamenting his life. And while I wouldn’t call the tragic story of Uncle Vanya a romance, it does have many romantic moments.
Armitage plays a romantic figure – attracting the attention of two young women – the married Yelena and the homely Sonya. He even walks around shirtless in the rain and gives brooding, romantic speeches.
Uncle Vanya is great stuff – even if there’s no happy ending. See my complete review of why this production is must-see.
#6 THE IMPRESSIONISTS (2006)
The Impressionists is a docudrama about the famous impressionist painters of the 19th century. Richard Armitage plays Claude Monet, and yes, it’s romantic.
It’s also full of Romanticism and gorgeous paintings. So, if you love history and art like me, you won’t want to miss this excellent miniseries.
#7 SPARKHOUSE (2002)
This British miniseries came before North & South but revealed Richard Armitage’s potential as a romantic leading man. The series is a contemporary remake of Wuthering Heights that pulls a gender switch between Cathy and Heathcliff.
The super-talented Sally Wainwright also writes it, so it has good writing.
I’d call it a very loose adaptation of Wuthering Heights, but it’s still a fascinating watch, especially with the fantastic cast.
Richard Armitage plays John Standring, a farmer and a good man who loves Carol (this story’s version of Heathcliff, played by Sarah Smart). Even though he’s not the main love interest, you can’t help but watch and kind of root for him anyway.
#8 OCEAN’S 8 (2018)
Okay, so he’s more of a romantic villain in this Hollywood film. It is more about the women, after all!
Still, it’s fun to watch Richard Armitage act off Sandra Bullock and Anne Hathaway – even if there’s no HEA.
#9 MI-5/SPOOKS (2002-2011)
Richard Armitage stars in 25 episodes of the popular British spy series (which has so much romance in it I think it should be categorized as a romantic spy drama/mystery show).
He plays the character of Lucas North, a mysterious spy held captive by the Russians and tortured for eight years. North is an enigmatic character with intriguing romances, including an affair with CIA liaison Sarah Caufield (played by Andor’s Genevieve O’Reilly).
In season three of Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal, Richard Armitage portrays Francis Dolarhyde (aka the Great Red Dragon), the main antagonist of Season 3.
And while he’s psychopathic, he falls in love with a blind woman, Reba McClane, played by True Blood’s Rutina Wesley.
I’m not arguing that this is a healthy portrayal of romance, but Armitage once again proves his brilliance at playing complex characters with a wide range of emotions – making us sympathize with a genuinely frightening villain.
Content Note: TV-14 to TV-MA for violence, sensuality, and disturbing images and content.
Well, that rounds out my list! Here’s to hoping Richard Armitage gets more romantic leading roles in Hollywood in the future.
In the recent past, he also narrated the audiobook for the historical fiction novel, The Jane Austen Society. So, if that becomes a film, we can all agree he should play one of the main characters. Of course, the book has lots of romance in it!
BONUS: EVEN MORE RICHARD ARMITAGE TV SHOWS AND MOVIES TO ENJOY
Want to see Richard Armitage in more movies and shows? I have a bonus list below of some of his memorable performances (most of these don’t have romance).
- Agatha Christie’s Marple – Episode 3.2: Ordeal by Innocence as Phillip Durant
- Alice Through the Looking Glass – as King Oleron
- Berlin Station – He plays a spy. (TV-MA)
- Brain on Fire
- Captain America: The First Avenger – see him in a small role as Heinz Kruger!
- Castlevania – as Trevor Belmont (TV-MA); For those who don’t mind dark, animated cartoons and are interested in his work as a voice actor.
- Cleopatra (1999) – See Richard Armitage in one of his earliest roles in this period drama. He portrays Epiphanes. (NR but should be TV-MA)
- The Crucible (2014) – Richard Armitage stars as John Proctor in this recorded theater adaptation.
- Into the Storm
- The Lodge (Rated R)
- My Zoe (Rated R)
- Pilgrimage (NR but would be Rated R)
- ShakespeaRe-Told (He’s in episode 2: Macbeth)
- Space Sweepers – Armitage plays the villain in this Korean sci-fi film! (TV-MA)
- Stay Close (TV-MA)
- The Stranger (TV-MA)
- Strike Back (TV-MA)
And while he won’t be noticeable, he plays a Bravo starfighter in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.
Of course, he stars in many more parts, but these are a good start to seeing the best Richard Armitage films or shows.
- Damage (also called Obsession): It looks to be a romantic thriller series.
- The Boy in the Woods
What are your favorite Richard Armitage movies and TV shows? Leave a comment below!
Featured image: Collage of North & South, Robin Hood, and The Vicar of Dibley. Photo Credit: BBC
Editorial Note: This article was first published in 2020 and has been updated and republished.