Richard Timothy Smith (b. 25 March 1942, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, UK), known professionally as Richard O'Brien, is a British-New Zealand actor, writer, musician, composer, and television presenter.
He emigrated with his family to Tauranga, New Zealand, at the age of 10, where his father had purchased a sheep farm. He went to Tauranga Boys' College, after which he returned to England in 1964, having learned how to ride horses and developing a keen interest in comic books and horror films. He launched his acting career using his maternal grandmother's name.
To improve his acting skills, O'Brien took method acting classes, and then joined several stage productions as an actor. In 1970, he went into the touring production of Hair for nine months. In the summer of 1972, he met director Jim Sharman who cast him as an Apostle and Leper in the London production of Jesus Christ Superstar. Sharman also helped make O'Brien's draft of a gothic-themed, schlock-horror comic-book fantasy romp into a reality. Sharman suggested changing the working title from They Came from Denton High, and The Rocky Horror Show opened at the Theatre Upstairs in June 1973. The show has remained in continuous production. He also co-wrote the screenplay along with director Jim Sharman for the film adaptation, The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), and appeared on-screen as Riff Raff; the film became an international success and has received a large cult following.
O'Brien presented four series of the television game show The Crystal Maze (1990–1993) for Channel 4, among many other acting credits.
O'Brien gained dual citizenship with New Zealand in 2011. He identifies as third gender and uses he/him pronouns.
Works for Winds
- The Rocky Horror Picture Show Selections (arr. McMillan) (2001)
- Time Warp (arr. Story) (1975/2011)
- Time Warp (arr. Vinson) (1975/2011)
- Heritage Encyclopedia of Band Music. "O'Brien, Richard." Accessed 30 October 2022
- Richard O'Brien. Wikipedia. Accessed 30 October 2022