The Hollow Crown (2012– )
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Richard II 

The incompetent Richard II is deposed by Henry Bolingbroke and undergoes a crisis of identity once he is no longer king.


Rupert Goold


Rupert Goold (screenplay), Ben Power (screenplay) | 1 more credit »

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
David Bradley ... Gardener
Richard Bremmer ... Abbot of Westminster
Daniel Boyd ... Groom
Peter De Jersey ... Lord Ross
Lindsay Duncan ... Duchess of York
Tom Goodman-Hill ... Sir Stephen Scroop
Harry Hadden-Paton ... Sir Henry Green
Tom Hughes ... Duke of Aumerle
Ferdinand Kingsley ... Sir John Bushy
Rory Kinnear ... Bolingbroke
Isabella Laughland ... The Queen's Serving Lady
Finbar Lynch Finbar Lynch ... Lord Marshall
Rhodri Miles Rhodri Miles ... Welsh Captain
David Morrissey ... Earl of Northumberland
Lucian Msamati ... Bishop of Carlisle


Fey, vain and foolish, young Richard initiates his downfall by banishing Henry Bolingbroke and the Earl of Mowbray as a resolution to their feud and then confiscating the lands of his uncle, Bolingbroke's father John of Gaunt,on John's death, to pay for a war in Ireland which he loses. This angers many courtiers including the Duke of York, who welcomes Bolingbroke back to England, where he executes Richard's flatterers. The king himself is soon taken prisoner and murdered in his cell. Bolingbroke, now proclaiming himself Henry IV, vows a pilgrimage to atone for his part in the regicide. Written by don @ minifie-1

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Drama | History


Not Rated | See all certifications »

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Release Date:

20 September 2013 (USA) See more »

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Did You Know?


Pembroke castle, the castle with the large tower in the film, was inherited by Richard the second following the death, in a jousting accident, of its owner John Hastings in 1389. Pembroke castle was the birthplace of the real King Henry 7th in 1457. See more »


Characters repeatedly mispronounce "Hereford" as "Hair-ford". The character is called "HERFORD" in the text. That is how Shakespeare wrote it and intended it to be said - the production is respecting that. Pronouncing it "Hereford" doesn't fit the poetic metre. Spellings and pronunciations were simply far more variable then. See more »


King Richard: Let's talk of graves, of worms and epitaphs. Make dust our paper and with rainy eyes write sorrow on the bosom of the earth. Let's choose executors and talk of wills. And yet not so. For what can we bequeath , save our deposed bodies to the ground? Our lands, our lives and all are Bolingbroke's. And nothing can we call our own but death. And that small model of the barren earth wich serves as paste and cover to our bones. For god's sake, let us sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the ...
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Followed by The Hollow Crown: Henry IV, Part 2 (2012) See more »

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User Reviews

Poor Richards
4 November 2014 | by proteus6847See all my reviews

Watching Rupert Goold's film of Richard II (2012), featuring Ben Whishaw in the title role, I was initially intrigued and then swiftly dismayed by Whishaw's cinematic inwardness. Richard is frankly despicable in his early scenes, but he can ultimately win over the audience through the extremity of his suffering, the flight of his poetry and the prophetic intensity of his insights. Unfortunately, Whishaw conveys nothing but increasing introversion and remoteness, and so remains loathsome throughout. His closest relationship is with his pet monkey; when he claims that he "needs friends," one imagines that a troop of baboons would suffice. At Wales, he climbs a sand dune to deliver his speeches,hoping that physical elevation will lift him to the heights that his passion cannot reach. He remains abstracted and withdrawn at Flint Castle, where his Richard is so intent on producing an effect that he seems to feel nothing but stage-jitters. His colloquies with Aumerle are like whispered conversations in the wings on the order of "How am I doing?" This may be an interpretive choice; it is also an evasion of the central challenge. If Whishaws were horses, Ben would be a hack.

David Tennant's Richard for the RSC (2013) is equally inadequate in a different mode. During an interview shown before the play, director Gregory Doran declares that "Whatever David does, he is absolutely contemporary!" If by that he means "incapable of dealing with heightened language and profound emotion," he is correct. Unlike Whishaw with his ever-receding solipsism, Tennant tries to supply these deficiencies with his trademark cheeky humor. As a result, he is the funniest Richard I have ever seen (even funnier than Fiona Shaw), but I think that the play is meant to be a tragedy.

Why should an audience care about a Richard as aloof, callow, trifling and ordinary as Tennant's or Whishaw's? In possible awareness of this problem, Doran and Goold resort to the exact same device to generate a measure of belated sympathy. Flouting Shakespeare and Holinshed, they have Richard assassinated by Aumerle instead of Exton, and they further present Aumerle as Richard's actual or would-be lover. In order to wipe out the taint of his abortive treason, Aumerle (we are to understand) destroys the thing he loves at the real or imagined behest of the incorrigibly heterosexual Bolingbroke.

In short, both directors portray Richard as a martyr to homophobia, something that Marlowe's Edward so obviously is, but that Shakespeare's Richard so obviously is not. Goold drives home the point with sledgehammer subtlety by depicting Richard as the most famous of all gay icons: Stripped to a loincloth, he is shot to death with arrows. Doran does nothing quite so blatant, but he does have Richard and Aumerle share a lingering kiss, and he directs Tennant to be distant and unloving towards his Queen. His farewell kiss to her in their final scene is perfunctory, and when she responds with a more ardent kiss, he does not reciprocate.

Thus, Richard meets his doom in both productions implicitly proclaiming "I am Edward II, know ye not that?" The audience is meant to think of gay-bashing and wipe away a tear. But there may be some who feel that the countertextual triggering of irrelevant responses does not make up for actors who are "absolutely contemporary" and therefore unable to cope with classical magnitude and pathos. And there may be some who are more moved by the plight of Richard's Queen than by the factitious vagaries of his liaison with Aumerle, a relationship with no more tragic grandeur than Oscar and Bosie's.

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