Similar to British countrymen and great thespians John Gielgud and Ralph Richardson, although a generation later, Ian Richardson has made more of an enduring career in classical theater and BBC television than in films, although in later years he has gravitated toward the latter. Little did he expect it, but his most memorable (and frequently parodied) role may have been as the limousine occupant who asks, "Pardon me, do you have any Grey Poupon?" in that popular television ad. His dignified countenance and locutions have brought him frequent casting as men of education and refinement.
Richardson was born on April 7, 1934, in Edinburgh, Scotland, and studied at the College of Dramatic Art in Glasgow. He first made a name for himself playing Hamlet at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre in 1960, before joining the Royal Shakespeare Company, where he began a stint of several years as the leading artist, appearing in a variety of roles. At the RSC, he created the role of Jean Paul Marat in Marat/Sade, reprising it for the much-heralded 1966 film version. Stage success in Stratford, Ontario, and New York would soon follow.