Perhaps best known for his role as the scheming and determined Francis Urquart in a series of television dramas, 'House of Cards', 'To Play the King' and 'The Final Cut', Ian Richardsons career has been both diverse and rewarding. Similar to British countrymen and great thespians John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson, although a generation later, Ian Richardson has made more of an enduring career in classical theater and BBC television than in films, although in later years he has gravitated toward the latter.
Richardson was born on April 7, 1934, in Edinburgh, and studied at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Dramatic Art in Glasgow. He first made a name for himself playing Hamlet at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre in 1959, before joining the Royal Shakespeare Company, where he began a stint of several years as the leading artist, appearing in a variety of roles. At the RSC, he played the role of Jean Paul Marat in Marat/Sade, reprising it for the much-lauded 1966 film version. Stage success in New York and Ontario would soon follow.
Richardson appeared as Oberon in Peter Hall's well-liked 1968 rendition of A Midsummer Night's Dream, which for various reasons was never shown. Then came the immensely successful and critically acclaimed series in which this stylish actor depicted Francis Urquart – the right wing British Prime Minister. This brought him three nominations for Best Actor in British Academy Award he was successful in winning one of those awards, along with a Royal Television Society Award and Press Award.
Much of his best work has been on TV, the silkiness of his delivery equipping him equally for traitors like the mole who sells out in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy (1979) or, eponymous, Blunt (1985), or as a speaker of Six Centuries of Verse (1984).