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Happy Birthday, Richard Armitage!

Richard Armitage is 41 today!

Known to us as Thorin Oakenshield in The Hobbit, Richard has revealed that, not only did he read The Hobbit as a child but it was also the first play he performed in.  Commenting on the role he has said,

“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.” 

Richard comes from Leicester, England.   He went to a school with a strong interest in the performing arts, which he credits for giving him a work ethos that has held him in good stead,

“Never to be late, to know your lines and to be professional.”

In order to get an Equity card which would allow him to work in the theatre, Richard joined a circus in Budapest for several weeks when he was 17.  He describes sleeping next to the elephants as,

a low point in show business.

Richard began his career in musical theatre, but found that it lacked realism, so went to the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art to study acting.  In his final year at LAMDA he was an extra in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and even had a speaking part.

 “I felt very nervous saying my line – I had practised it for three weeks… I actually ended up as a computer graphic in the film, I think.”

On graduation, Richard worked in the theatre with the Royal Shakespeare Company but he is best known to British audiences for his television roles in dramas such as North and South, Robin Hood and Spooks.

Being aware of how he can use his fame to raise money for charities, Richard regularly donates items such as signed photographs and DVDs to charity auctions. And who can forget him on his knees in the Rise Up Christchurch campaign which raised money for the earthquake damaged city? He particularly supports Shelter, Barnardos, the Salvation Army and Childline and asks fans to make donations to these charities through JustGiving.

Richard is currently in Michigan filming his latest project Black Sky, a drama about the devastation caused when a tornado hits a town.

I don’t know if he’s on set today but, whatever he’s doing may I wish him a Happy Birthday from all of us at Middle-earth News.

Photo credit By Tony Haz Photography (Fan photo from 2010 BAFTAs) [CC-BY-SA-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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