Richard Armitage

British actor Richard Armitage was a television star in his native country, playing complicated men of action on series like "Spooks" (BBC One/Three, 2001-2011) and "Strike Back" "(Sky 1/Cinemax, 2010- ) before leaping to international attention in Peter Jackson's "The Hobbit" (2012-2014) film trilogy. Like Hugh Jackman before him, Armitage began his career in musical theater before finding fame on British television, playing dark, dashing anti-heroes on "North and South" (BBC, 2004) and "Robin Hood" (BBC One, 2007-09). His growing popularity, especially among female viewers, led to a starring role on "Spooks" as a one-time terrorist masquerading as a spy, as well as voiceover work on numerous TV commercials and in documentaries. He then segued into another action series, "Strike Back," before landing a central role in "The Hobbit," which necessitated his leaving the series for what would most likely be a star-making turn not unlike Viggo Mortensen's career-transforming appearance in Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" (2001-2003) trilogy. Having already conquered British television, Richard Armitage's ascension to worldwide stardom in films seemed a foregone conclusion.