Tony winner Richard Griffiths died following complications after heart surgery, according to London’s Telegraph newspaper. The Olivier Award-winning British actor is best known for playing Harry Potter's nasty Uncle Vernon Dursley in the popular movie franchise and for his role as the lascivious Uncle Monty in the black comedy Withnail and I. He was 65.
Griffiths won the 2006 Tony and Olivier Awards for Best Actor for his performance in Alan Bennett’s The History Boys, and also appeared on Broadway opposite his Harry Potter co-star Daniel Radcliffe in Equus.
"Richard was by my side during two of the most important moments of my career,” Radcliffe said in a statement. “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 addition to the Harry Potter films, Griffiths appeared in the movies Gandhi, The French Lieutenant's Woman, Chariots of Fire, The History Boys, King Ralph, Guarding Tess, Pie in the Sky, Naked Gun 2 1/2, Superman II, Gorky Park and Sleepy Hollow. The actor, who had extensive London stage credits, was reportedly eyeing a return to Broadway in The Sunshine Boys.
Griffiths was born to deaf parents in Thornaby-on-Tees in Yorkshire, northern England. After training as a painter, he decided to study drama. “My generation of art students sat around painting rainbows on twigs; they were all utterly convinced that representational art, the kind of stuff I was interested in, was finished,” Griffiths told Broadway.com in 2006. “I decided there was no future for me in art and abandoned it, which was the biggest nightmare of my youth. So I thought, ‘Well, I have to do something else. I've been a laborer; I've shoveled concrete and that's too much hard work. I have to go for something easier.’ I thought I'd qualify for drama and English and teach. That was Plan B. While I was doing that, I changed my mind and thought, ‘Maybe I can be an actor.’ That was Plan C.” His acting career spanned 40 years.
Griffiths was recognized with an OBE in 2008. He is survived by his wife, Heather Gibson.