31 July 1947|
Thornaby-on-Tees, North Riding of Yorkshire, England
|Died||28 March 2013
Coventry, West Midlands,
|Cause of death||Complications from heart surgery|
|Education||Stockton & Billingham College|
|Alma mater||Manchester School of Theatre|
(m. 1980–2013; his death)
|Awards||Laurence Olivier Award, Drama Desk Award, Outer Critics, Tony Award|
Richard Griffiths, OBE (31 July 1947 – 28 March 2013) was an English actor of stage, film and television. He received the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor, the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Play, the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Featured Actor and a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play, all for his role in the play The History Boys.
He is also known for his portrayal of Vernon Dursley in the Harry Potter films, Uncle Monty in Withnail and I, Henry Crabbe in Pie in the Sky, and King George II in Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. He also appeared as a British journalist in Richard Attenborough's Oscar-winning 1982 film Gandhi.
Griffiths was born in Thornaby-on-Tees, North Riding of Yorkshire, England, the son of Jane (née Denmark) and Thomas Griffiths. His father was a steelworker who also fought in pubs for money, while his mother's occupation was described as "bagger". He and his brother John were raised in the Roman Catholic faith. His parents were both deaf, and he learned sign language at an early age in order to communicate with them. During his childhood he attempted to run away from home many times. He dropped out of Our Lady & St Bede School in Stockton-On-Tees at age 15  and worked as a porter for Littlewoods for a while, but his boss eventually convinced him to go back to school. He decided to attend a drama class at Stockton & Billingham College. He continued his education in drama at Manchester Polytechnic School of Drama (present-day Manchester School of Theatre).
After graduating, Griffiths earned a spot on BBC Radio. He also worked in small theatres, sometimes acting and sometimes managing. He built up an early reputation as a Shakespearean clown with portrayals of the Constable in The Comedy of Errors and Falstaff in The Merry Wives of Windsor with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and went on to play the King in Henry VIII.
He eventually settled in Manchester and began to get lead roles in plays. From there he began to appear on television and then got his big break in film in It Shouldn't Happen to a Vet (1975). By the early 1980s, he was selected for the lead role in the BBC drama serial Bird of Prey, an early computer-conspiracy thriller. His character, Henry Jay, was reprised in Bird of Prey 2 (1984). In 1981 he also gave a memorable performance as Chilean secret police victim William Beausire in an edition of the BBC Prisoners of Conscience series. He went on to supporting roles in a number of major films, including The French Lieutenant's Woman, Chariots of Fire, and Gandhi. On stage, in 1985–86 he performed the role of Verdi in Julian Mitchell's After Aida, in Wales and at the Old Vic Theatre in London.
Griffiths' film roles were in both contemporary and period pieces such as Gorky Park (1983), Withnail and I (1987), King Ralph (1991), The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear (1991), Guarding Tess (1994) and Sleepy Hollow (1999). Later, he was seen as Harry Potter's cruel uncle Vernon Dursley in the Harry Potter series, appearing in five of the eight films: Philosopher's Stone, Chamber of Secrets, Prisoner of Azkaban, Order of the Phoenix, and Deathly Hallows – Part 1.
He appeared as Inspector Henry Crabbe, disillusioned policeman and pie chef extraordinaire, in the British detective drama Pie in the Sky, a role which was created specifically for him. He also made an extended appearance in the 2005 version of Charles Dickens' Bleak House. In 2004, he originated the role of Hector (the teacher) in Alan Bennett's play The History Boys, directed by Nicholas Hytner, winning the 2005 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor. During the play's subsequent United States run, he added a Drama Desk Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award, and a Tony Award. He reprised his role in the film version which was released in October 2006.
Together with his Harry Potter co-star Daniel Radcliffe, who plays Harry Potter, he appeared in a stage revival of Peter Shaffer's Equus at the Gielgud Theatre in London, and later from October 2008 in a short run of the play at the Broadhurst Theatre on Broadway which ended in February 2009. Later in 2009 he replaced Michael Gambon as W.H. Auden prior to the premiere of The Habit of Art at the National Theatre, once again directed by Hytner.
Griffiths was considered for the part of the Doctor in Doctor Who following Tom Baker's departure in 1981, but was unavailable. He was strongly considered once again to take on the role of the Eighth Doctor, had the series continued past 1989. Coincidentally, his two principal co-stars from Withnail and I—Paul McGann and Richard E. Grant—went on to play the role in some capacity. Griffiths has also performed in adaptations of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, providing the voice for Slartibartfast for the radio adaptation of Life, the Universe and Everything and playing the Vogon Jeltz in the film version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. He has also appeared in Bedtime Stories with Adam Sandler, and as a special guest in A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa.
Griffiths asked a member of the audience to leave a performance of Heroes after her phone rang three times. This interruption of a performance because of audience distraction happened three times in his career.
In April 2012, Griffiths starred, with Danny DeVito, in a revival of the Neil Simon play The Sunshine Boys. The show previewed at the Savoy Theatre from 27 April 2012, opening on 17 May and playing a limited 12-week season until 28 July.
Griffiths met Heather Gibson in 1973 and they married in 1980. He had no children.
|1974||Crown Court||Interpreter||Episode 3.31: "Duress: Part 1"|
|Village Hall||Mr. Ridealgh||Episode 1.1: "Mr. Ellis Versus the People"|
|ITV Playhouse||Park keeper||Episode 7.2: "Norma"|
|1976||When the Boat Comes In||P.C. Price||Episode 1.1 "A Land Fit for Heroes and Idiots"|
|Red Letter Day||Window cleaner||Episode 1.3: "Well Thank You, Thursday"|
|The Expert||Ripley||Episode 4.10: "Tainted Money"|
|1977||Second City Firsts||Episode 8.1: "Twelve Off the Belt"|
|ITV Playhouse||Board member||Episode 9.10: "It's Only Rock 'n' Roll"|
|1978||The Comedy of Errors||Officer||TV play|
|The Sweeney||Ronnie Harries||Episode 4.14: "Jack or Knave"|
|1979||Afternoon Off||Mr. Turnbull||TV play|
|1980||Nobody's Perfect||Sam Hooper|
|1981||Prisoners of Conscience||William Beausire||Episode 1.1: "William Beausire"|
|1982||Minder||Derek Farrow||Episode 3.5: "Dreamhouse"|
|Whoops Apocalypse||Premier Dubienkin||Episode 1.6: "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun"|
|Bird of Prey||Henry Jay||TV mini-series; all four episodes|
|The World Cup: A Captain's Tale||Sidney Barron||TV film|
|Five-Minute Films||The Window Cleaner||Episode: "A Light Snack"|
|The Merry Wives of Windsor||Sir John Falstaff||TV film|
|1983||The Cleopatras||Pot Belly||TV mini-series; three episodes|
|Bergerac||Jean-Pierre||Episode 2.6: "Fall of a Birdman"|
|1984||Bird of Prey 2||Henry Jay||TV mini-series; all four episodes|
|1986||Boon||Sidney Garbutt||Episode 1.6: "Glasshouse People"|
|The Raggy Dolls|
|The Marksman||Brown||TV mini-series|
|1988-1990||A Kind of Living||Trevor Beasley||15 episodes|
|1989||Goldeneye||Second admiral||TV film|
|1991||Perfect Scoundrels||Phil Kirby||Episode 2.1: "Ssh, You Know Who"|
|1992||El C.I.D.||Weatherby||Episode 3.2: "Nothing Is Forever"|
|The Good Guys||Archie Phillips||Episode 1.8: "Going West"|
|Mr. Wakefield's Crusade||Porter||TV film|
|1993||Inspector Morse||Canon Humphrey Appleton||Episode 7.2: "The Day of the Devil"|
|Lovejoy||Hans Koopman||Episode 4.9: "They Call Me Midas"|
|1994||A Breed of Heroes||TV film|
|1994-1995||The World of Peter Rabbit and Friends||Mr. Alderman Ptolomy Tortoise
Sir Isaac Newton
|Two episodes; voice|
|1994-1997||Pie in the Sky||Henry Crabbe||All 40 episodes|
|1998||In the Red||Geoffrey Crichton-Potter||Episode 1.3|
|The Canterbury Tales||Saturn||Episode 1.1: "Leaving London"; voice|
|Oi! Get Off Our Train||Elephant||TV short; voice|
|Ted & Ralph||Landowner at Party||TV film|
|1998-2000||Archibald the Koala||Archibald||All 52 episodes; voice|
|1999||The Vicar of Dibley||Bishop of Mulberry||Episode 3.17: "Spring"|
|2000||Gormenghast||Swelter||TV mini-series; two episodes|
|Hope and Glory||Leo Wheeldon||Two episodes|
|2002||TLC||Mr Benedict Ron|
|Jeffrey Archer: The Truth||Willie Whitelaw||TV film|
|2003||The Brides in the Bath||Sir Edward Marshall Hall||TV film|
|2005||Princes in the Tower||Sir Thomas More||TV film; voice|
|Bleak House||Mr. Bayham Badger||TV mini-series; two episodes|
|2007||Ballet Shoes||Great Uncle Matthew||TV film|
|2008||A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa||Santa Claus||TV film|
|2010||National Theatre Live||Fitz / W.H. Auden||TV play: The Habit of Art|
|2011||George and Bernard Shaw||Bernard||Episode 1.1: "Pilot"|
|Episodes||Julian Bullard||Episode 1.1: "Episode One"|
|2012||The Hollow Crown – Henry V||Duke of Burgundy||TV film|
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