Richard Griffiths won a Tony for "The History Boys"
Richard Griffiths, the English actor best known for playing the oleaginous Uncle Vernon in the Harry Potter series, has died.
He was 65, and the cause of death was complications from heart surgery.
Though best known for his role in the Harry Potter series as the boy wizard's indifferent guardian, he was also beloved for another avuncular supporting turn as the sexually carnivorous Uncle Monty in the 1987 black comedy "Withnail and I."
Other film roles included "Hugo" (2011), "Sleepy Hollow"(1999) and "The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear" (1992).
Griffiths, whose girth made him a popular and memorable character actor in films, confessed that because of his doughy appearance, he had a tortured relationship with the camera.
"I've always hated the way I looked, and I've never complained about my brains," he told the Guardian in 2005.
Although mostly featured in supporting roles in film, he was a star in his own right on stage. He collaborated most memorably with playwright Alan Bennett in "The History Boys," playing a poetry-loving instructor who instills a love of learning in his young pupils even as his wandering hands take liberties with them.
In lesser hands, the character's attraction to young men might have made him seem like a monster, but Griffiths mixed humor in with pathos and was rewarded for his efforts with Tony and Olivier awards. He would reprise the part in a less successful film adaptation that was released in 2008 with the original cast largely intact, but seemed too stage-bound to succeed on its own terms.
He would reunite with Bennett to play poet WH Auden in the "The Habit of Art" (2009).
In 2008, he acted alongside his "Harry Potter" co-star Daniel Radcliffe in a revival of Peter Shaffer's "Equus" that became a hot ticket primarily because Radcliffe appeared naked in a key scene.
In a statement to TheWrap, Radcliffe hailed the actor for his generosity and support during both the Potter films and "Equus."
"Richard was by my side during two of the most important moments of my career," Radcliffe said. "In August 2000, before official production had even begun on Potter, we filmed a shot outside the Dursley's, 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," he added. "It was my first time doing a play but, terrified as I was, his encouragement, tutelage and humor 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."
Griffiths recently appeared in a West End production of Neil Simon's "The Sunshine Boys" opposite Danny DeVito. He was scheduled to reprise his role as an ex-Vaudevillian at Los Angeles' Ahmanson Theatre as part of Center Theatre Group's 2013/2014 season.
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