Withnail and I and Harry Potter actor Richard Griffiths dies aged 65

Richard Griffiths, the experienced British character actor who starred in such films as Withnail and I, The History Boys and the Harry Potter series, has died at the age of 65.

Having undergone heart surgery at the University Hospital of Coventry and Warwickshire, the Yorkshire-born veteran died from complications.

Born in 1947, Griffiths established himself as one of Britain’s best character actors with his two most memorable big-screen roles coming from playing uncles.

The first of those was his sublime appearance as the creepy Uncle Monty in the cult classic Withnail and I (1987) and the second was as Uncle Vernon Dursley, the cruel relative of boy wizard Harry Potter, in five films from the hugely-successful Harry Potter franchise (2001-2011).

Potter star Daniel Radcliffe, who also worked with Griffiths on the stage production of Equus , had this to say about his former co-star:

“In August 2000, before official production had even begun on Potter, we filmed a shot outside the Dursleys’, which was my first ever shot as Harry. I was nervous and he made me feel at ease. Seven years later, we embarked on Equus together. It was my first time doing a play but, terrified as I was, his encouragement, tutelage and humour made it a joy. In fact, any room he walked into was made twice as funny and twice as clever just by his presence. I am proud to say I knew him.”

In a career spanning five decades, he played a part in several various film productions including Superman II (1980), Chariots of Fire (1981), Gandhi (1982), The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear (1991), Funny Bones (1995), Sleepy Hollow (1999) and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011). His last major film role was in Martin Scorsese’s visual-spectacle Hugo (2011).

Despite rarely being recognised for his work via film awards, Griffiths did receive a BAFTA nomination for his humourous role as teacher Hector in the British comedy The History Boys (2006) having previously played the character on stage. Theatre was another of his passions with his most recent work being The Sunshine Boys at the West End which saw him star alongside Danny DeVito.

He also contributed to television with his most popular role being food-loving detective Henry Crabbe in the series Pie in the Sky (1994-1997). Other noteworthy appearances included a footballer in The World Cup: A Captain’s Tale (1982) and playing a loud vicar in a hilarious guest role on The Vicar of Dibley.

He received an OBE in 2008 for his services to drama and is survived by his wife.

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