Riccardo Scamarcio studied theatre at the experimental centre in Rome and made his first steps into cinema in 2003 in La meglio gioventù by Marco Tullio Giordana and Ora o mai più by Lucio Pellegrini. In 2004, the success of Tre metri sopra il cielo, based on Federico Mocnicia's novel, made him known to the public and his performance even earned him the Globo oro for best new actor. Then very coveted in his native country: he played in 2004 in Mario Martone's L'odore del sangue, then in 2005 in Luca Lucini's L'uomo perfetto and Fausto Paravidino's Texas for which he obtained a nomination at the Nastri d'argento as the best support actor. He was then chosen by director Michele Placido to play in Romanzo criminale a film which was an official selection in Berlin in 2006 and which received several awards from the Italian Film Academy. He was nominated three times for the Silver Ribbon and rewarded in 2018 for his role in Loro by Paolo Sorrentino. He played for other major European names such as Costa-Gavras, Ferzan Özpetek, Abel Ferrara, Maiwenn, Woody Allen, Lisa Azuelos and Valéria Bruni-Tedeschi.
Riccardo Scamarcio was in Les Arcs in 2019 to present the opening film of the festival The Translators by Régis Roinsard.