Ian Richardson CBE


Finally came the immensely successful and critically acclaimed series in which this stylish actor was really able to cut loose into a role that was made for him. He depicted Francis Urquart – the Cabinet Whip and eventual Prime Minister who deviously masterminded his own rise to power. It was said at the time of the series appearing on TV, that the then Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, rescheduled meetings so she wouldn't miss it. This brought him three nominations for Best Actor in British Academy Award he was successful in wining one of those awards.

In 1992 he also starred as Rex Hunt in the TV drama 'An Ungentlemany Act'.As Governor Rex Hunt, Richardson brought a nobility and sympathy to the role of a minor, passed-over British diplomat abandoned by his government in London and faced with the impossible task of directing the defence of the islands against an imminent invasion. The defending British Marines are commanded by Major Mike Norman (Bob Peck), an experienced, cynical soldier aware he will have to fight against impossible odds, yet determined to resist for the honour of the Royal Marines. Ian was nominated for two awards for his role including another BAFTA.

Perhaps one of his greatest film roles is that of ‘Mr Book’ in Alex Proyas' Dark City (1998). He played (alongside Richard O’Brien) one of the many cloaked figures who creates and maintains the city where all is not as it appears. The film is superb and includes stellar performances from Rufus Sewell, Keifer Sutherland and William Hurt. Dark, brooding and brilliantly written this film seemed to miss the American Academy Awards (perhaps because there was not enough over acting!). It did manage to win several of the film festival categories although nothing for Richardson.


He then appeared as Mr. Torte in '102 Dalmatians' (2000) and Sir Charles Warren in the excellent version of the Rippers tale in 'From Hell' (2001). More television work followed with the brilliant 'Strange' 2003 where he played a rather sinister cleric. He showed his great comic timing a few years later playing Death in the film adaptation of Terry Pratchetts book - 'The Hogfather' 2006.


Of course in between all these films he carried on his theatre work. He joined Sir Derek Jacobi, Sir Donald Sinden and Dame Diana Rigg in an international tour of 'The Hollow Crown' for example. He was appointed CBE in 1989 and was married to Maroussia Frank with two children.


He died on the 9th February 2007, peacefully in his sleep. Dame Helen Mirren dedicated her BAFTA to him during the 2007 awards ceremony saying,

'He became a mentor to me, he helped me believe in myself. Ian Richardson, I'm not too sure I would be here today if it wasn't for you'


'I’ve had a superb career,and I was very lucky to do all those big Shakesperean roles in my twenties. What really matters to me now is not my CBE nor my acting awards but my family and my beautiful estate in Devon'


Suggested films to see:

Murder Rooms (2000) TV
Dark City (1998)
House of Cards (1990) TV




Main Actors                       Page 1

british cinema film movie actors and actresses