The best roles of queer actor Richard Armitage, from Spooks to Red Eye

LGBTQ+ actor Richard Armitage boards a deadly flight and investigates a high-level conspiracy in ITV’s new six-part drama Red eye.

Armitage plays Dr Matthew Nolan, who is arrested by DC Hana Li, played by Jing Lusi, at Heathrow Airport after returning home from China, and is taken back to Beijing on a late night flight – known as a red eye.

The official synopsis reads: “When a first death occurs (during the flight), DC Li begins to suspect foul play. Further deaths confirm Nolan is in danger, and after a call from MI5, Hana becomes embroiled in an escalating conspiracy.

“Back in London, we follow Hana’s sister, sleazy reporter Jess (Jemma Moore), who leads her own investigation into Nolan’s extradition and finds herself on the run from an unknown assassin.

“And at Thames House, the head of MI5, Madeline Delaney (Lesley Sharp), breaks protocol and risks her career to not only help Hana and Nolan stay alive, but also to expose an international conspiracy that threatens both China seems to involve its people. own government.”

The British actor confirmed last year that he had come out as a teenager “to everyone who mattered”, but he did not publicly discuss his sexuality because he did not want the focus to be on his personal life rather than his acting skills.

“I don’t know if I ever wanted to put myself in front of the work I was doing, anything in relation to my family or personal life. I just thought, ‘Let the work speak for itself,’” Armitage told Radio Times.

He added that when it comes to his sexuality, he is reluctant to put himself in a box. “It has always been that way: when I declare who I am and my sexuality, I say that it is established. I don’t know, whether I might feel something for someone further down the line,” he told Attitude. “I doubt it, but I don’t know.”

Armitage has a long list of acting credits to his name – not to mention an uncredited role in Star Wars: Episode 1 – The Phantom Menacein 1999 – so perhaps he was right to let the ‘work speak for itself’. Here are some of his most beloved roles.


Ghosts (2008)

Richard Armitage as Lucas North in BBC Spooks
Richard Armitage joined the BBC Ghosts in season seven. (BBC)

One of Armitage’s most famous roles was as police officer Lucas North, at the BBC Ghosts – known as MI-5 in the US – which followed the exploits of Section D, the counter-terrorism arm of the British security services.

North is introduced in the seventh series as the former head of Section D, who was captured and imprisoned in Russia during an earlier operation and later returned to be reinstated.

Last year, Armitage told Radio Times that North was not “100 percent honest”.


Robin Hood (2006)

Armitage plays another popular, and classically British, role, Sir Guy of Gisborne, in the BBC adaptation of Robin Hood.

Sir Guy is the sheriff to the second-in-command of Nottingham. Armitage stayed with the show until it ended in 2009.


The Hobbit (2012)

Richard Armitage in The Hobbit
Richard Armitage as Thorin Oakenshield The Hobbit trilogy. (Sky)

Armitage plays Thorin, the leader of the company of dwarves who want to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from Smaug the dragon, in the three Lord of the Rings prequels, between 2012 and 2014.

The trilogy, which also starred fellow British heavyweights Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Ken Stott, Andy Serkis and Orlando Bloom, was a hit with fans and critics.

Armitage previously told Hello! that the role of Thorin was extremely special to him.

“I was completely absorbed in Tolkien. Then I found Lord of the Rings and I think this was where my early antennae went towards being an actor, but I didn’t realize it at the time,” he said.

“So when I started playing Thorin Oakenshield as a 40-year-old, I went back to being eight years old at school and found that book for the first time. It was such a huge thing for me.”


Obsession (2023)

At Netflix ObsessionArmitage plays London surgeon William Farrow, who apparently lives the perfect life. Then he meets his son’s girlfriend Anna Barton (Charlie Murphy) and begins an affair that threatens to ruin his idyllic existence.

The pair shared a number of naked and explicit scenes in the steamy show, which Armitage told the Evening Standard were discussed with his partner before the show aired.

“We did talk about it. I assured him that everything would be fine and that we would be well taken care of.”

Armitage and Murphy “met each other’s partners” and went to dinner so they could all get comfortable with what the actors had to do on screen.


Fool Me Once (2024)

Richard Armitage in Netflix Fool Me Once
Richard Armitage played Joe Burkett, alongside Michelle Keegan Fool me once. (Netflix)

The Harlan Coben thriller Fool me once follow a former soldier Maya Stern, played by Michelle Keegan, who installs a nanny cam in her home to keep an eye on her daughter after witnessing the murder of her husband Joe Burkett (Armitage).

But when Maya starts seeing her supposedly dead husband on the CCTV footage, she is scared and confused and decides to find out if he is real or not.

Coben, the author of the book from which the TV show is adapted, previously said: “(It’s) a shocking story about how secrets and deception have the power to bring people together and tear them apart at the same time. I can’t wait to see how this dream cast brings these characters to life.”

Red eye is a six-part British television series starring Jing Lusi, Richard Armitage and Lesley Sharp. The film will premiere on ITV1 and ITVX on April 21, 2024.