Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Harris, Richard (1933-2002)

Actor, Director, Producer

Main image of Harris, Richard (1933-2002)

A fiercely individualistic performer, as unconventional in his public as in his private life, Richard Harris became a star as the masochistic North Country rugby player in This Sporting Life (d. Lindsay Anderson, 1963), and appearing on both screen (US, d. Joshua Logan, 1966) and stage as King Arthur in Camelot. He was Rabelaisian in his drinking, and yet wrote fiction and poetry, reading it at New York's Lincoln Center in 1972 and publishing his first book of verse the following year.

After RADA he joined Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop, Stratford East, where he appeared in The Quare Fellow. He made his screen debut in Alive and Kicking (d. Cyril Frankel, 1958) under contract to Associated British, and his 6'2" frame led to a string of action heroes, including The Heroes of Telemark (d. Anthony Mann, 1965), and he was an impressive Cromwell (d. Ken Hughes, 1970). He starred for Antonioni in Red Desert (Il deserto rosso, Italy, 1964) and in many Hollywood films, including A Man Called Horse (1970) and its sequels, and Gladiator (UK/US, d. Ridley Scott, 2000).

He was Oscar-nominated for This Sporting Life and The Field (UK/Ireland, d. Jim Sheridan, 1990). His second wife (1974-1982) was actress Ann Turkel and sons by his first wife are director Damian Harris and actor Jared Harris.

Books: Richard Harris: A Sporting Life by Michael Feeney Callan (1990); Richard Harris: Actor By Accident by Gus Smith.

Anthony Slide, Encyclopedia of British Film

More information


From the BFI's filmographic database

Related media

Selected credits

Thumbnail image of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001)Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001)

The film that brought J.K. Rowling's boy wizard to the big screen

Thumbnail image of Long and the Short and the Tall, The (1960)Long and the Short and the Tall, The (1960)

Wartime drama about British soldiers fighting the Japanese - and each other

Thumbnail image of This Sporting Life (1963)This Sporting Life (1963)

Lindsay Anderson directs Richard Harris as a troubled rugby player

Related collections

Related people and organisations