Richard Burbage (6 January 1567 – 12 March 1619) was an English actor and theatre owner. He was the star of William Shakespeare's theatre company, the Lord Chamberlain's Men which mutated into the King's Men on the ascension of James I in 1603. He played the title role in the first performances of many of Shakespeare's plays, including Hamlet, Othello, Richard III and King Lear. But he was in great demand and also appeared in the plays of many of the great contemporary writers.
Burbage's power and scope as an actor is revealed in the sheer size of the roles he played.
While watching Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Shakespeare was reminded of Richard Burbage by the actor who played the leader of an acting company. Both Burbage and the actor shared a similar swagger, although Shakespeare noted that Burbage deserved to maintain such a swagger, as he headed a "real" company.