Richard Ayoade is a name many Americans are not familiar with now but will be in the next couple of years. Most recently, he has received attention for his role in The Watch, currently in theaters, starring alongside Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, and Jonah Hill. His work in The Watch is one of the few highlights of the film, although a talent like his deserves a far bigger venue. His quick wit and striking looks (being of Norwegian and Nigerian ethnicity) command our attention; this performer is much more than the geeky exterior he is often typecast for. He is an incredibly talented writer, director, and actor, whose sharp intellect not only makes us laugh, but makes us see.
In 2004 Richard was a contributing writer, actor, and director on the British television series Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace. The series is brilliantly silly—a spoof of a soap opera/horror show set in a hospital that happens to be built over the gates of hell. Although only 6 episodes long, the series has produced a strong cult following and was a great spring board for Ayoade’s unique talents.
Although acting and writing for various shows in between, he is next best known for his portrayal of Maurice Moss on the hit series The IT Crowd that ran from 2006-2010. The show focuses on the IT department of Reynholm Industries and all of their socially awkward greatness. Moss is a kind, sweet, and often adorably innocent IT specialist. If he hasn’t captured your heart by the first episode, he only proves that you never had one in the first place. While filming The IT Crowd, he also held a reoccurring role on the genius series The Mighty Boosh as Saboo, a member on the shayman council. These two roles are dramatically different and showcase his versatility as an actor.
In 2008, he directed a documentary on The Arctic Monkeys titled, Arctic Monkeys at the Apollo, and directed at least three of their music videos. He also directed a music video for Kasabian (a personal favorite of mine) featuring Noel Fielding as Vlad the Impaler. In 2010 he directed his first feature film, Submarine, which he also wrote and is based off the novel by Joe Dunthorne. Submarine focuses on 15-year-old Oliver Tate, and takes an extremely honest look at the confusion of adolescence. The film, while funny in an understated way, is also illuminating and poignant. What is most striking about the film is that it showcases Ayoade’s potential for true greatness (not that he hasn’t already achieved it) for his ability to not only understand raw emotion and its connection to humor, but to articulate it visually. This is a quality that is clearly visible in everything he does artistically, whether it’s through acting, writing, or directing. His success comes not just from the fact that he’s funny, but that he’s smart. So if you aren’t already a fan, do yourself a favor and look him up.