'Harry Potter' actor Richard Griffiths dies at 65
Richard Griffiths of "The History Boys" poses for a picture with his Tony for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in Play at the 60th Annual Tony Awards in this Sunday, June 11, 2006 file photo in New York. Griffiths, the British actor who played the boy wizard’s unsympathetic Uncle Vernon in the "Harry Potter" movies, has died. He was 65. Agent Simon Beresford announced Friday March 2013 that Griffiths died Thursday of complications following heart surgery at University Hospital of Coventry in central England. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, file)
LONDON (AP) — Richard Griffiths was one of the great British stage actors of his generation, a heavy man with a light touch, whether in Shakespeare or Neil Simon. But for millions of movie fans, he will always be grumpy Uncle Vernon, the least magical of characters in the fantastical "Harry Potter" movies.
Griffiths died Thursday at University Hospital in Coventry, central England, from complications following heart surgery, his agent, Simon Beresford, said. He was 65.
"Harry Potter" star Daniel Radcliffe paid tribute to the actor Friday, saying that "any room he walked into was made twice as funny and twice as clever just by his presence."
FILE - From left, actors James Corden, Clive Merrison, Richard Griffiths and Stephen Campbell Moore take the curtain call at the opening night of the play The History Boys, in this Sunday, April 23, 2006 file photo in New York. Griffiths, the British actor who played the boy wizard’s unsympathetic Uncle Vernon in the "Harry Potter" movies, has died . He was 65. (AP Photo/Dima Gavrysh, file)
"I am proud to say I knew him," Radcliffe said.
Griffiths won a Tony Award for "The History Boys" and appeared in dozens of movies and TV shows. But he will be most widely remembered as a pair of contrasting uncles — Harry Potter's Uncle Vernon Dursley and Uncle Monty in cult film "Withnail and I."
Griffiths was among a huge roster of British acting talent to appear in the "Harry Potter" series of films released between 2001 and 2011.
His role, as the grudging, magic-fearing guardian of orphaned wizard Harry, was small but pivotal. Griffiths once said he liked playing Uncle Vernon "because that gives me a license to be horrible to kids."