Richard Crispin Armitage was born in Leicester, to Margaret (Hendey) and John. He studied at Pattison College in Coventry, where he discovered his love for acting. In later years he took part in many theatre productions all over the UK, from musical to classical theatre.
Armitage enrolled at LAMDA in 1995 and starred in The Cherry Orchard and The Normal Heart among others. He started working in cinema in 1999 with some small roles in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Cleopatra, and This Year's Love.
In 2000 he took part in the RSC Macbeth tour of the USA and Japan with Antony Sher as the lead actor.
In 2002 he had a breakthrough with his role as John Standring in Sparkhouse, a BBC Miniseries in three parts.
In 2004 he got famous throughout the whole UK with his role of mill-owner John Thornton in North And South (BBC). He landed a key role in BBC Robin Hood from 2006 to 2009 as the dark and evil Guy of Gisborne, then from 2008 to 2010 he played Lucas North in the successful British series Spooks (MI-5 in the USA).
He kept working on British TV (Strike Back: Origins in 2010) and had a small but pivotal role in Captain America: The First Avenger, until he became known worldwide with his role of Thorin Oakenshield in Peter Jackson's trilogy of The Hobbit (2012/2014), for which he received a Saturn Award.
In 2014 he was the protagonist of Yael Farber's acclaimed version of Arthur Miller's The Crucible at the Old Vic in London, for which role he was nominated for an Olivier Award.
He starred in the third season of Hannibal (2015) in the role of serial killer Francis Dolarhyde, which got him another Saturn Award.
In 2016 he starred in the Epix original series Berlin Station in the lead role of Daniel Miller, and in the same year he received many positive reviews for his role of Kenneth in Mike Bartlett's Love, love, love for Roundabout Theatre in NYC.
In 2017 He worked on Ocean's Eight, and on the second season of Berlin Station. In July 2017 the film Pilgrimage came out with many positive reviews.