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Harry Potter, Withnail & I Actor Richard Griffiths, Age 65, Passes Away

so long and thanks for all the fish

Sad news today: Actor Richard Griffiths, whom readers of this site will probably know best as Harry Potter’s Uncle Vernon Dursley, passed away yesterday following complications due to heart surgery. He was 65.

Griffiths was more than just Vernon “No post on Sundays!” Dursley, though. The Tony and Laurence Olivier Award-winning actor played the creepy-yet-sympathetic Uncle Monty in the British cult classic Withnail and I, and the (less, but still)-creepy-yet-(more)-sympathetic history teacher Hector in both the film and theater versions of The History Boys. Other recent films included Martin Scorsese‘s Hugo (where he romanced the character played by Frances de la Tour, a.k.a. Madame Maxime, making my inner Harry Potter nerd very happy); Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, where he played King George; and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, where he spewed horrible poetry as the voice of the Vogon Prostetnic Jeltz.

Said National Theater director Sir Nicholas Hynter of Griffiths’ passing:

“Richard Griffiths wasn’t only one of the most loved and recognizable British actors – he was also one of the very greatest. His performance in The History Boys was quite overwhelming: a masterpiece of wit, delicacy, mischief and desolation, often simultaneously.

“But that was just one small part of a career that spanned Shakespeare, cutting-edge new plays and major work in film and television.

“His currency as an actor was truth; as a colleague it was hilarity. His anecdotes were legendary. They were literally endless. They would go on for hours, apparently without destination, constantly side-splitting.

“The only way to stop them was to tell him you were walking away, though there were always others in the audience so, as far as I know, he never stopped. He was the life of every party.”

Echoing the sentiment is Daniel Radcliffe, who credits Griffiths’ easygoing nature with helping him through not one, but two career milestones:

“Richard was by my side during two of the most important moments of my career. 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 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.”

Rest in peace, Richard. I’m feeling the urge to pop Withnail & I into the DVD player tonight. You’ll be missed.

(via: Digital Spy)

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