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In Netflix’s new limited series Stay Close, Richard Armitage plays a former documentary photographer turned paparazzo with links to two mysterious disappearances. The eight-episode series, which drops on Dec. 31, is the streamer’s latest adaptation of a Harlan Coben book. It’s also the second show based on one of the author’s best-selling novels that Armitage has starred in, after 2020’s The Stranger

Richard Armitage plays a new character in ‘Stay Close’ 

Scruffy looking Richard Armitage in the Netflix's 'Stay Close'
Richard Armitage in ‘Stay Close’ | Netflix/James Stack

In The Stranger, Armitage played a man named Adam who learns a devastating secret about his wife’s past. In Stay Close, long-buried secrets also resurface, affecting the life of Ray Levine (Armitage) along with working mom of three Megan Pierce (Cush Jumbo), detective Michael Broome (James Nesbitt), and Megan’s old friend Lorraine Griggs (Sarah Parish).  

Stay Close and The Stranger are both based on books by Coben. But Armitage says there’s no other connection between the two stories. That convinced him to sign on to the new show, the actor told Hello! 

“My first question was, ‘Is the character going to be different enough from the one I’ve just done, because I didn’t want to show up doing the same thing,’ but they were aware of it as well,” he said. “They were like, ‘It’s a different character, he’s going to look different, he’s going to feel different.’”

The actor also said he was drawn to the project because he “love[s] the themes that Harlan plays with, identity and reinventing yourself and your past catching up with you and how do you hide yourself? It’s people’s fantasy and worst nightmare that they try to invent themselves and the past comes back to haunt them.” 

‘The Hobbit’ star explains how he envisioned his character in Netflix’s ‘Stay Close’ 


‘Stay Close’: New Harlan Coben Series Coming to Netflix in December 2021

The Hobbit star went on to explain how he came up with ways to differentiate the Ray character from Adam. 

“[T]he way that the writers and producers work is that they’re so democratic that they say ‘yes’ to everything, and they’re really open to ideas and suggestions,” he said. “The whole thing about Ray having tattoo sleeves was an invention because I wanted to give him a very different visual identity which was different to the previous character.”

“I wanted him to map his lost memory in visual form, and they were like, ‘Great, let’s do it!’” he added. 

Armitage also said that he studied the work of British photojournalist Tim Hetherington when developing his Stay Close character. Hetherington, who directed the 2010 documentary Restrepo with Sebastian Junger, died in 2011 while covering the civil war in Libya. 

Harlan Coben weighs in on Armitage’s role in ‘Stay Close’ 

Coben works closely with Netflix on the adaptations of his books. He says there was no issue with having an actor from an earlier series play a completely different character in Stay Close. 

​​“I don’t like to work with the same actors for obvious reasons, but this character (Ray) was so different from what Richard played in The Stranger that I thought he’d really enjoy that kind of test of being able to defy a lot of the expectations,” he told

Stay Close is streaming on Netflix from Dec. 31. 

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