Actor Richard Griffiths, who starred in the Harry Potter movies and Withnail and I, has died at the age of 65 after complications following heart surgery.

Griffiths enjoyed a long career of success on film and on TV, but also on the stage where he was a Tony-winning character actor.

He was best known for playing Vernon Dursley in the Harry Potter films and Uncle Monty in Withnail and I.

TV roles included playing a cookery-loving detective in Pie in the Sky.

And on stage, his most acclaimed performance was as the charismatic teacher Hector in Alan Bennett's The History Boys, a role he recreated in the 2006 film version.

He was appointed an OBE in the 2008 New Year Honours.

He was born in Thornaby-on-Tees, North Yorkshire, he first built up a reputation on the stage with a series of comic Shakespearean roles.

His Harry Potter co-star Daniel Radcliffe - who also appeared on stage with him in Equus - was among the first to pay tribute, saying: "Richard was by my side during two of the most important moments of my career. I was proud to know him."

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I suppose I had the same negative reaction to the character of Vernon Dudley as everyone else had ... but then, that's precisely what J. K. Rowling and Richard Griffiths had in mind.  Then to see him and Radcliffe join forces again in Equus (which I would just about have given my right arm to see!) spoke to me of the range of both actors and of their professionalism.

And so it may be that I see Uncle Vernon with different eyes the next time I cue up a Harry Potter DVD.

Tags: Daniel Radcliffe, Equus, Harry Potter, Richard Griffiths

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