Richard Griffiths

Active - 1976 - 2012  |   Born - Jul 31, 1947 in Thornaby-on-Tees, North Riding of Yorkshire, England  |   Died - Mar 28, 2013   |   Genres - Comedy, Fantasy, Comedy Drama, Drama, Children's/Family

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Biography by Hal Erickson

Falstaffian British character actor Richard Griffiths has been popping up in films since 1980. Griffiths played Sir Tom in The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981), Captain Billings in Greystoke (1982) and Phipps in King Ralph (1981). An accomplished dialectician, Griffiths has essayed a wide variety of ethnic types: in Naked Gun 2 1/2 (1992), he outdid himself in his dual role as the German-accented Dr. Mannheimer and the Georgia-cracker Earl Hacker. British TV fans know Richard Griffiths best as Henry Crabbe in the weekly sitcom Pie and the Sky (1993-95), not to mention his appearances on such earlier series as Bird of Prey (1984), Nobody's Perfect (1980-82), Ffizz (1987-89) and A Kind of Living (1988-90).

In 2001, Griffiths took on the recurring role of the imposing Uncle Vernon in the Harry Potter film series, playing the role in five of the series' eight films. Griffiths spent the majority of his career alternating between the screen and stage, and in 2004, he took on one of his higher profile stage roles - the eccentric teacher Hector in Alan Bennett's award-winning play The History Boys. Griffiths originated the role in the 2004 West End production and the 2006 Broadway production and later reprised the role in the 2006 film, winning an Olivier Award, a Tony Award, and scoring a BAFTA Film nomination for his work.

After completing his work in the Harry Potter series, Griffiths appeared in The Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011) as King George II and played a limited engagement in the West End revival of Neil Simon's The Sunshine Boys, opposite Danny DeVito. Sadly, his career was cut short, dying at age 65 in 2013 from complications following heart surgery.

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  • With two deaf parents, he learned sign language as a child.
  • Began his career on BBC Radio, and acting in small theaters.
  • For his 2005 work in the play The History Boys, won a Laurence Olivier Award, a Drama Desk Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award and a Tony; he later reprised the role in the 2006 film.
  • Starred with Harry Potter costar Daniel Radcliffe in a revival of the play Equus in London and New York in 2007.
  • Was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2008.
  • On several occasions, stopped a play to have an audience member with a ringing phone thrown out of the theater.
  • Starred in a 2012 West End revival of The Sunshine Boys with Danny DeVito.
  • Died following complications from heart surgery in 2013.