Sad news from Britain today with word reaching our shores that acclaimed actor Richard Griffiths passed away due to complications during heart surgery at the age of 65. Although Griffiths had a rich and accomplished life as an actor, he will be forever known to audiences of all ages for being the overbearing Muggle relative of one of the world’s most famous wizards.
Griffiths got his start in British TV in the 1970s, and soon made his way to films that got him attention from American audiences, movies like Superman II, Ragtime, Chariots of Fire and Ghandi. Griffiths continued to work steadily in TV, film and theater for the next 20 years including critically-acclaimed roles in the film Whitenail & I, and the series A Kind of Living and Pie in the Sky. “My beloved Uncle Monty Richard Griffiths died last night. Chin-Chin my dear friend,” wrote Griffiths Whitenail co-star Richard E. Grant last night on Twitter.
But the new millennium would bring Griffiths even bigger worldwide fame being cast as Harry Potter’s mean Uncle Vernon in the first seven Harry Potter films. “Richard was by my side during two of the most important moments of my career. I was proud to know him,” said Potter himself Daniel Radcliffe. Griffiths also starred alongside Radcliffe in the latter’s West End stage debut in Equus. “Any room he walked into was made twice as funny and twice as clever just by his presence,” he added.
In non-nerdy roles, Griffiths earned a rare honor in 2006 when he received both a Tony and an Oliver for his performance as the charming history teacher Hector in the play The History Boys. He also filled the role to critical acclaim in the movie based on the play. “Richard Griffiths wasn’t only one of the most loved and recognizable British actors – he was also one of the very greatest,” said Sir Nicholas Hytner, director of the National Theatre. “His performance in The History Boys was quite overwhelming: a masterpiece of wit, delicacy, mischief and desolation, often simultaneously.
“His anecdotes were legendary. They were, literally, endless. They would go on for hours, apparently without destination, constantly side-splitting.”
And despite his heart issues, Griffiths stayed busy. He starred on stage in Neil Simon’s The Sunshine Boys with Danny DeVito last year and he appeared in film in the World War I drama Private Peaceful.
Griffiths is survived by his wife Heather Gibson.