Standring, a character in an updated version of Wuthering Heights was the first of several notable characters for Richard named John. And while it is a supporting role in a production featuring several talented actors, it is arguably Richard’s performance as Yorkshire sheep farmer John Standring that shone the most. His crafting of the character of the crippingly shy, awkward farmhand, “second best” for the woman he marries, but faithful and loving throughout–truly a gentle giant–is simply outstanding.
It is difficult to believe at times this is the same actor who would later play Guy of Gisborne, John Thornton, Lucas North, Harry Kennedy and John Porter. What an incredible chameleon this actor is!
It’s not just the unruly mop of reddish-brown curls on Standring’s head or the coveralls he wears that set him apart from the other characters. It’s his speech, his mannerisms, the way he walks and stands. Richard has said this was the first audition he went to in character and it must have worked, since he got the part.
John Thornton may be his most iconic role, but I believe the breakthrough performance that finally allowed Richard to start winning more roles and see a measure of success in his career was his heartbreaking creation of that awkward farmhand with a heart of gold–John Standring.