Born in Cheltenham, England, Richard Smith's family moved to Tauranga, New Zealand, in 1951 when his father, an accountant, decided to become a sheep farmer. Watching horror and science-fiction double features in nearby Hamilton, Smith added an interest in acting to his love of rock and roll. He moved back to England in 1964, tried singing, then became a movie stuntman and fringe theater actor. He changed his name to O'Brien (his beloved maternal grandmother's name) one day while on the phone to British Actors Equity, to avoid confusion with another Richard Smith. He met director Jim Sharman in 1972, when Sharman cast him in the dual roles of Apostle and Leper for the London stage production (transferred from Sharman's native Australia) of "Jesus Christ Superstar".
Working again with Sharman on a production of Sam Shepard's "The Unseen Hand", O'Brien mentioned a new rock musical he'd been writing called "Rock Horroar." The play went into rehearsals as "They Came from Denton High," and at Sharman's suggestion, was retitled "The Rocky Horror Show" before opening in June 1973.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (RHPS) (first released in the United Kingdom on 14 August 1975) is a comedy-horror musical film directed by Jim Sharman from a screenplay by Sharman and Richard O'Brien, who also composed the songs. The film was based on O'Brien's long-running stage production The Rocky Horror Show.
After an unexceptional first run, the movie went on to become a cult hit which continues to play weekly in theaters. Fans often attend viewings dressed as characters from the film and respond ritualistically to certain events in the film.
The film stars Barry Bostwick, Susan Sarandon, and Tim Curry. "Little" Nell Campbell, Patricia Quinn, Peter Hinwood, Jonathan Adams, Charles Gray, and O'Brien are featured in supporting roles. Rock singer Meat Loaf makes a brief appearance for one song.