Richard Griffiths, Uncle Vernon in ‘Harry Potter’ Movies, Dies at 65

Breanne L. Heldman
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Rooting against Uncle Vernon Dursley in the "Harry Potter" movies was one thing, but few had anything but kind words to say about the actor who played him, Richard Griffiths, who died Thursday at age 65.

The celebrated film and theater star passed away at the University Hospital of Coventry and Warwickshire following complications from heart surgery.

Daniel Radcliffe, Griffiths' costar in the "Harry Potter" films as well as on stage in "Equus, told The Guardian newspaper he's "proud to say I knew him."

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"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," Radcliffe recalled. "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. In fact, any room he walked into was made twice as funny and twice as clever just by his presence."

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In addition to his role in one of the most successful movie franchises of all time, Griffiths earned a Tony Award for his role in Broadway's "The History Boys," and went on to star in the film based on the play. He's also well remembered for his turn as Uncle Monty in the 1987 cult movie "Withnail and I."

"Richard Griffiths wasn't only one of the most loved and recognizable British actors – he was also one of the very greatest," Sir Nicholas Hynter, director of "The History Boys," said.

Griffiths was born in North Yorkshire to two deaf parents. He dropped out of school at age 15 in order to pursue acting and later joined the Royal Shakespeare Company.

He his survived by his wife of more than 30 years, Heather Gibson, whom he met in 1973 while performing Oscar Wilde's "Lady Windermere's Fan." They were wed in 1980.

"Richard gave acting a good name," the star's agent, Simon Beresford, said in a statement. "He was a remarkable man and one of our greatest and best-loved actors. He will be greatly missed."

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