Richard Armitage is an immensely popular actor in his native England. Here, not so much. If you know him, it's probably because you are lucky enough to have BBC America and have watched the hot mess of a Robin Hood remake.
Because the show is...weird. It's set during medieval times (it's Robin Hood, duh), but the producers have purposefully tried to inject modern elements into the show to make it more accessible to current audiences. Robin runs around in hoodies and Marion wears camo skirts (NOT kidding) for goodness sake. The result is a show that is not quite as goofy as Xena and Hercules, but is definitely not on the hard-hitting end of the spectrum.
Did I mention it's also addictive like crack?
Anyhoodle, one of the things that really works is Richard Armitage as Sir Guy of Gisbourne. He's smoldery, he's brooding, he wears leather ALL THE TIME, and he is eeeevil. Like, leaves his bastard-born baby in the woods to die, type of evil. But he's also really freakin hot. So we love him.
Armitage also takes what could have been a one-note villain and manages to inject juuuust enough glimpses of humanity and complexity to keep you guessing. The only thing that kind of doesn't make sense is how he insists on loving Marion when she basically lies and betrays him every two seconds when he could just travel through time and space and come rescue me from my normal every-day existence.
But that seems unlikely, right?
If you need more reason to love Armitage, you should check out North and South, a BBC adaptation of a Victorian novel that is kind of like Pride and Prejudice set during the Industrial Revolution in Britain. I made my friend Kristin watch it one day (all in one go) and I think she is now a full-fledged member of the Armitage Army.
He smolders and broods in this one too, but there is less leather and more cravat.
For your last Armitage sampling, I recommend the final episodes of The Vicar of Dibley. Actually, I recommend the entire series, since it might be one of the funniest shows ever made, but in the two-episode finale Armitage plays the suitor of the long-single Vicar, Geraldine Grainger (played by Dawn French). He's charming, funny, not evil, and earnest. And, of course, still hot.
And tall. According to IMDB he is 6'2', but I swear he is taller than that. Tall, cool glass of water, coming right up!