Stay Close’s Ray star details hidden meaning behind tattoos ‘Quite complicated’

Stay Close: Richard Armitage wasn't added to cast Whatsapp

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Richard Armitage stars as washed-up paparazzo Ray Levine in the brand new Netflix thriller based on the work of Harlan Coben, Stay Close. Best known for his starring roles in The Hobbit and Spooks, the British actor has shared some valuable insight into one of his most daring screen performances to date.

Ray’s hidden tattoos were actually Richard’s idea, the Stay Close star has revealed.

The TV and film actor has built a repertoire of iconic performances in major projects such as Hannibal, The Stranger and Captain America: The First Avenger.

After starring in one of the first Netflix productions based on Harlan’s crime novels, The Stranger, Richard is back on the streamer as tormented photojournalist Ray.

Once a successful documentarian, Ray is now moonlighting as a celebrity paparazzo whilst he continues the search for his missing girlfriend.

Chatting to Netflix before the series premiere, Richard revealed he wanted to differentiate his present-day character from the flashbacks to 17 years ago throughout the series.

“That really did come from an idea that I had,” he recalled.

Thankfully, the show’s production team, including director Daniel O’Hara, were open to Richard’s ideas to make modern Ray stand out.

He explained: “I felt because we do flashbacks to 17 years ago we really needed to recognise that 17 years had passed.”

“We do a face and hair transformation but I thought this building up of a collection of tattoos, which are a way of him slightly making sketches and notes on his arms to fill in the blanks that aren’t there in his memory, might be an interesting bit of subliminal storytelling.”

Much like Guy Pearce’s character in the thriller film Memento, Ray uses tattoos as notes and reminders to keep track of his scattered memories.

As the action unfolds, Ray’s tattoos are rarely seen as he’s usually sporting his signature leather jacket.

However, when viewers do get a glimpse, they offer a revealing look at the life Ray has lived since the disappearance of his girlfriend.

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The Stay Close star also revealed he took inspiration from real photographers he spotted during his research for the character.

Richard continued: “It was partly storytelling and partly a look at the kind of person I’d observed on the street that happened to have cameras strapped to them.

“Maybe it’s an archetype but I collected a bunch of images of photographers and I honed in on one.”

The star’s attention to detail paid off, and Ray stood out as one of Richard’s most compelling performances in recent years.

Stay Close also features James Nesbitt as DS Michael Broome and Cush Jumbo as Megan Pierce-Shaw whose lives start to intersect on the anniversary of a chilling cold case.

While Michael’s investigation into a new disappearance opens up new wounds, two colourful psychopaths have schemes of their own.

The series is just one of 14 shows based on author Harlan’s works to be produced for Netflix, with several more in the pipeline for 2022 and beyond.

Stay Close is available to stream on Netflix.

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