Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Tributes to Potter star Griffiths

The worlds of stage and screen have paid tribute to Harry Potter actor Richard Griffiths after he died from complications following heart surgery.

The award-winning performer, who appeared as Uncle Vernon Dursley in the Potter films, was hailed as one of the greatest and most-loved British actors by a string of his co-stars and colleagues.

His unexpected death on Thursday, at the University Hospital of Coventry and Warwickshire, came at the age of 65 and followed a stellar career which drew him plaudits on both sides of the Atlantic.

Alongside his Harry Potter role, he was best known for the part of inspirational teacher Hector in Alan Bennett's The History Boys - which earned him a Laurence Olivier and a Tony award - and for playing Uncle Monty in cult favourite Withnail & I. The portly actor was awarded an OBE for services to drama in 2007.

Daniel Radcliffe, who performed alongside him in the Harry Potter films and in the stage play Equus, led tributes to Griffiths whose "encouragement, tutelage and humour" made work "a joy". He 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 humour made it a joy."

Sir Nicholas Hytner, director of the National Theatre, hailed the veteran actor's stage skills and said his death would devastate his "army of friends".

The director, who worked with Griffiths in The History Boys and The Habit Of Art, said: "Richard Griffiths wasn't only one of the most loved and recognisable 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."

Richard E Grant, who played alongside him in Withnail & I, paid his respects on Twitter. He wrote: "My beloved 'Uncle Monty' Richard Griffiths died last night. Chin-Chin my dear friend."

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