Richard Armitage exposes the deep, dark secrets of The Stranger
Based on the New York Times bestselling novel by author Harlan Coben, Netflix’s new limited series The Stranger shows exactly what happens when people’s deepest darkest secrets are exposed. The eight-episode British drama follows the aftermath of what happens when a mysterious stranger tells family man Adam Price a secret that has a devastating impact on his marriage and his seemingly perfect life.
Right in the center of the drama and action is actor Richard Armitage, who portrays Price in the series.
“I got sent the script back in November of 2018 and I was sent the first episode,” Armitage said. “I was asked if I liked it and if I did then I can go meet Harlan the next day. I got through the first episode and then I downloaded The Stranger on Kindle because I thought that I just have to read the book. I couldn’t stop reading it and I met him the next morning, having stayed up all night trying to finish the book. It was just brilliant and it was exactly the thing that I was looking for. I really appreciated his writing.”
Literature, which was a big influence on Armitage’s life, was the catalyst for how he became involved in the entertainment business.
“I’ve always been a big reader and I guess my way into the business was through books more than anything else,” Armitage explained. “I think as a kid, I developed a vivid imagination through reading books and then joined the Scouts so that I could do the gang show and all that kind of stuff. It was a slow burn and I didn’t really get back into drama school until I was about 23 years old. I guess it comes through literature.”
In the series, Price is a lawyer who lives an aspirational life with his wife and two sons although they’re financially stretched a bit.
“They’re busy little bees, but what becomes clear is that Adam and Corinne have secrets that they really haven’t shared with each other and when you start to dig beneath the surface not everything is as perfect as it seems,” Armitage said.
The series, which has twists and turns in every episode, also has high intensity action scenes as well as deeply emotional ones.
“When you agree to take part in a series like this, there are usually key moments in the story, which really fire you up whether or not it’s a confrontation or a discovery or a chance or something that’s being revealed in the story,” Armitage said. “I had the book in the beginning, but we didn’t have all the episodes. We only got two episodes at a time, but I trusted the fact that all of the key moments with Adam in the book would be in the series. Actually, the scripts were better I think than the book because when you’re writing a screenplay it has to be a very immediate and very practical thing; it can’t be too psychological or cerebral. I was really happy that everything that Harlan had written in his novel made its way into the screenplay.”
With an all-star cast that includes Siobhan Finneran, Jennifer Saunders and Anthony Head, Armitage said that he couldn’t have asked for a better cast to work with.
“In fact, it was one of the jobs that I loved so much I was wishing that we’d do a second season,” he said. “I loved my family and I absolutely adored the two lads who played my sons. I loved playing opposite Siobhan [Finneran] and Shaun [Dooley]. They were great colleagues on screen, and Anthony Head, who played my father. We had so much fun together. My only regret is that I didn’t have any scenes with Jennifer Saunders because I’m such a huge fan of hers. Our characters never meet. It was a really fantastic cast.”
So can fans expect to see a season two next year?
“I’d be surprised,” Armitage said. “I think Harlan is quite certain that it’s a closed story. The story has come to an end, but never say never. Harlan is a great writer and I think if he can devise a way to continue the story, I’m sure he’ll be on it, but I suspect he’s got other stories he wants to tell.”
However, if The Stranger were to get picked up for another season by Netflix, Armitage has some ideas on where his character might be headed.
“I think it would be quite interesting for him to be on the receiving end of a pursuit,” he said. “Season one was very much about Adam pursuing his wife and chasing something. Maybe in a continuation of the story—because of what Adam’s done—Adam is the one being pursued to get to the bottom of what he did at the end of season one. We will have to see.”
If Armitage looks familiar, it might be because of his portrayal as the dwarf prince and leader Thorin Oakenshield in Peter Jackson’s film trilogy adaptation of The Hobbit.
“Some of the best memories working on The Hobbit were actually the location shooting that we did,” Armitage said. “The first thing that actually springs to mind is working at Beorn’s House out in Paradise, which was the most incredible location. They built this beautiful set there. I would say the location and some of the South Islands in New Zealand [are most memorable].”
Armitage has a busy year ahead of himself with stage work and films on the horizon.
“I’m on stage in London doing a production of Uncle Vanya, which will run until May 2,” he said. “The rest of the year, there’s a couple of films that I’ve been attached to. One of them is called Now and Then and the other is called The Man from Rome. So there’s a possibility that those two projects will go later in the year. I’m also producing some work myself with some books. I’ve got to get my head into that.”
The Stranger is streaming on Netflix.