29 March 2013
Last updated at 07:08 ET
Richard Griffiths was appointed an OBE in the 2008 New Year Honours
Actor Richard Griffiths, who starred in the Harry Potter movies and Withnail and I, has died at the age of 65 after complications following heart surgery.
Griffiths enjoyed a long career of success on film and on TV, but also on the stage where he was a Tony-winning character actor.
He was best known for playing Vernon Dursley in the Harry Potter films and Uncle Monty in Withnail and I.
TV roles included playing a cookery-loving detective in Pie in the Sky.
And on stage, his most acclaimed performance was as the charismatic teacher Hector in Alan Bennett’s The History Boys, a role he recreated in the 2006 film version.
He was appointed an OBE in the 2008 New Year Honours.
He was born in Thornaby-on-Tees, North Yorkshire, and left school at 15 but later returned to education to study drama, before joining the Royal Shakespeare Company.
He married Heather Gibson in 1980 after they met during a production of Lady Windermere’s Fan in 1973.
His early TV career saw him land bit parts in series such as Minder, The Sweeney and Bergerac, while he also played small parts in major movies such as Chariots of Fire, Superman II and Gandhi
But it was his role as the predatory Uncle Monty in Withnail And I – which has become of one of the biggest cult classics in British cinema history – which made him a fan favourite.
His Harry Potter co-star Daniel Radcliffe – who also appeared on stage with him in Equus – was among the first to pay tribute, saying: “Richard was by my side during two of the most important moments of my career. I was proud to know him.”
Sir Nicholas Hytner, director of the National Theatre, said Griffiths’s unexpected death would devastate his “army of friends”.
He said: “Richard Griffiths wasn’t only one of the most loved and recognisable British actors – he was also one of the very greatest.
“His performance in The History Boys was quite overwhelming: a masterpiece of wit, delicacy, mischief and desolation, often simultaneously.”
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