British actor Richard Griffiths passed away yesterday after complications from heart surgery. He was 65 years old.
You probably recognize the actor as the uncle you loved to hate, Vernon Dursley, in five of the Harry Potter films. As seen in the LA Times, Griffiths is hailed as “One of the great British stage actors of his generation, a heavy man with a light touch, whether in Shakespeare or Neil Simon.” Griffiths earned a Tony for his performance in History Boys, starred alongside Daniel Radcliffe in Equus, and was most recently seen starring opposite Danny DeVito in The Sunshine Boys. He also appeared on various TV shows, including the 90’s British series about a crime solving chef, Pie In The Sky. Some of his film credits include Naked Gun 2 1/2, Hugo, Chariots of Fire and Withnail & I.
Griffiths was born in Thormaby-on-Tees in 1947. His parents were both deaf and mute, so his first language was sign. This contributed to an increased ability to communicate physically while on stage. “His ability to listen to people with his eyes as well as his ears is incredible,” Thea Sharrock, who directed “Equus,” told The Associated Press in 2008.
Even though Griffiths played Harry Potter’s especially nasty uncle, Griffiths was actually an inspiration and mentor to actor Daniel Radcliffe in real life. Radcliffe remembers, “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 humor made it a joy.”
RIP Richard Griffiths, you will be missed.