British actor Richard Griffiths -- perhaps best known for playing Harry Potter’s often cruel Muggle uncle, Vernon Dursley, in the Harry Potter franchise -- died suddenly Thursday from complications after heart surgery at University Hospital in Coventry, central England, his agent announced Friday. He was 65.
Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe was among those paying tribute to the veteran actor whose “encouragement, tutelage and humor” made work “a joy.”
Radcliffe, who also performed with Griffiths in the stage drama Equus, said: “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.”
Griffiths also received much acclaim for his New York and London stage performances in The History Boys, in which he played the offbeat teacher, Hector. In 2006, the role won him a Tony Award -- Broadway’s highest honor.
He was also well known to those who love the 1987 cult movie Withnail & I for his role as Uncle Monty.
Griffiths is survived by his wife, actress Heather Gibson, who he married in 1980.