Richard Thomas Griffiths was an English actor of film, television, and stage. For his performance in the stage play The History Boys, Griffiths won much acclaim and received many awards including, a Tony Award, a Laurence Olivier Award, the Drama Desk Award and the Outer Critics Circle Award. For the 2006 film adaptation, Griffiths was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role.(31 July 1947 – 28 March 2013)
|Born||31 July 1947|
Thornaby-on-Tees, North Riding of Yorkshire, England
|Died||28 March 2013 65) (aged|
|Resting place||St Mary The Virgin Churchyard, Bearley, Warwickshire|
|Education||Stockton & Billingham College|
|Alma mater||Manchester Polytechnic School of Drama|
|Awards||Tony Award, Laurence Olivier Award, Drama Desk Award, Outer Critics|
He is perhaps most known for his role as Vernon Dursley in the Harry Potter film series. He also portrayed Uncle Monty in Withnail and I (1987), and Henry Crabbe in Pie in the Sky (1994–1997). Earlier in his career, he had supporting roles in such critically acclaimed films as Chariots of Fire (1981), The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981), Gandhi (1982), and The Naked Gun 2+1⁄2: The Smell of Fear (1991). In his later career he appeared in Sleepy Hollow (1999), The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005), and in Martin Scorsese's Hugo (2011).
Richard Thomas Griffiths was born in Thornaby-on-Tees, North Riding of Yorkshire, to Jane Ann (née Denmark, 1899–1976) and Thomas Griffiths (1915–1976). His father was a steelworker who also fought in pubs for money, while his mother's occupation was described as "bagger". He had an elder sister and two elder brothers, all of whom died in infancy before he was born. He was brought up as a Roman Catholic.
His parents were both deaf and he was a native speaker of British Sign Language. 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 the age of 15 and worked as a porter for Littlewoods for a while but his boss eventually persuaded 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 (now Manchester School of Theatre) at the same time as Bernard Hill.
After graduating, Griffiths won a contract on BBC Radio with their Radio Drama Company. He also worked in small theatres, sometimes acting and sometimes managing. He built up an early reputation as a Shakespearean clown with portrayals of Pompey in Measure for Measure and Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream with the Royal Shakespeare Company and went on to play the Kings in Love's Labour's Lost and 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 (1976). By the early 1980s, he was selected for the lead role in 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. Griffiths 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 1985–1986, he performed the role of Verdi in Julian Mitchell's After Aida, in Wales and at the Old Vic Theatre in London. He appeared in The World of Peter Rabbit and Friends.
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 2+1⁄2: 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 Pie in the Sky, a role which was created 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 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, 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. He 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 appeared in Bedtime Stories with Adam Sandler and as a special guest in A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa.
In 2005 he 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.
Griffiths appeared as George II in Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides. He appeared in the first episode of the television series Episodes as Julian Bullard. 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. They had no children. Griffiths was awarded an honorary degree from Teesside University in 2006 and was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2008 New Year Honours.
|1977||It Shouldn't Happen to a Vet||Sam Broadbent|
|1980||Breaking Glass||Studio engineer|
|Superman II||Terrorist #3|
|1981||Chariots of Fire||Head Porter at Caius College|
|The French Lieutenant's Woman||Sir Tom|
|Ragtime||Delmas' Assistant No. 1|
|1982||Britannia Hospital||Cheerful Bernie|
|1984||Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan||Captain Billings|
|A Private Function||Henry Allardyce the Accountant|
|1986||Shanghai Surprise||Willie Tuttle|
|1987||Withnail and I||Uncle Monty|
|1991||King Ralph||Duncan Phipps|
|The Naked Gun 2+1⁄2: The Smell of Fear||Dr. Albert S. Meinheimer / Earl Hacker|
|1992||Blame It on the Bellboy||Maurice Horton|
|1995||Funny Bones||Jim Minty|
|1999||Sleepy Hollow||Magistrate Philipse|
|Casper & Spooky|
|2001||Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone||Vernon Dursley|
|2002||Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets|
|2004||Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban|
|Stage Beauty||Sir Charles Sedley|
|2005||The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy||Jeltz||Voice|
|The History Boys||Hector|
|2007||Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix||Vernon Dursley|
|2008||Bedtime Stories||Barry Nottingham|
|2010||National Theatre Live: The Habit of Art||Fitz / W.H. Auden|
|Jackboots on Whitehall||Hermann Göring||Voice|
|Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 1||Vernon Dursley|
|2011||Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides||King George II|
|2012||Private Peaceful||The Colonel|
|2013||About Time||Defence Lawyer in play (uncredited)||Posthumous release |
Final film role
|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||14 episodes|
|1981||Prisoners of Conscience||William Beausire||Episode 1.1: "William Beausire"|
|1982||Minder||Derek Farrow||Episode: "Dreamhouse"|
|Whoops Apocalypse||Premier Dubienkin||Episode: "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun"|
|Bird of Prey||Henry Jay||4 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||Part of the BBC Television Shakespeare series|
|1983||The Cleopatras||Pot Belly||3 episodes|
|Bergerac||Jean-Pierre||Episode 2.6: "Fall of a Birdman"|
|1984||Bird of Prey 2||Henry Jay||4 episodes|
|1985||Bleak House||Mr Bayham Badger||BBC TV serial|
|1986||Boon||Sidney Garbutt||Episode: "Glasshouse People"|
|The Raggy Dolls||Hi-Fi|
|Ffizz||Jack Mowbray||12 episodes|
|The Marksman||Brown||TV mini-series|
|1988–90||A Kind of Living||Trevor Beasley||15 episodes|
|1989||Goldeneye||Second admiral||TV film|
|1989||Plum, A Portrait of P.G. Wodehouse||P.G. Wodehouse (voice)||BBC documentary|
|1991||Perfect Scoundrels||Phil Kirby||Episode: "Ssh, You Know Who"|
|1992||El C.I.D.||Weatherby||Episode: "Nothing Is Forever"|
|The Good Guys||Archie Phillips||Episode: "Going West"|
|Mr. Wakefield's Crusade||Porter||TV film|
|1993||Inspector Morse||Canon Humphrey Appleton||Episode: "The Day of the Devil"|
|Lovejoy||Hans Koopman||Episode: "They Call Me Midas"|
|1994||A Breed of Heroes||Brian Beazely||TV film|
|1993–95||The World of Peter Rabbit and Friends||Various (voice)||3 episodes|
|1994–97||Pie in the Sky||Henry Crabbe||All 40 episodes|
|1998||In the Red||Geoffrey Crichton-Potter||Episode 1.3|
|The Canterbury Tales||Saturn (voice)||Episode: "Leaving London"|
|Oi! Get Off Our Train||Elephant (voice)||TV short|
|Ted & Ralph||Landowner at Party||TV film|
|1998–00||Archibald the Koala||Archibald (voice)||Episode: The Dragon|
|1999||The Vicar of Dibley||Bishop of Mulberry||Episode: "Spring"|
|2000||Gormenghast||Swelter||TV mini-series; 2 episodes|
|Hope and Glory||Leo Wheeldon||2 episodes|
|2002||TLC||Mr Benedict Ron||6 episodes|
|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 (voice)||TV film|
|Bleak House||Mr. Bayham Badger||2 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: "Pilot"|
|Episodes||Julian Bullard||Episode: "Episode One"|
|2012||The Hollow Crown – Henry V||Duke of Burgundy||TV film|
|1974||Measure for Measure||Abhorson/Guard||The Royal Shakespeare Theatre|
|The Tempest||Gonzalo||The Other Palace, London|
|1976–77||The Comedy of Errors||Officer||The Royal Shakespeare Theatre|
|1976–77||Romeo and Juliet||Peter||The Royal Shakespeare Theatre|
|1977||The Days of the Commune||Thiers||Aldwych Theatre, London|
|1978||The Tempest||Trinculo||The Royal Shakespeare Theatre|
|1978–79||Measure for Measure||Pompey||The Royal Shakespeare Theatre|
|1978||A Miserable and Lonely Death||Dr. Gordon||Donmar Warehouse, London|
|1983–84||Volpone||Volpone||The Other Place, London|
|2004–2005||The History Boys||Hector||Lyttelton Theatre, London|
|2006||Broadhurst Theatre, Broadway|
|2010||The Habit of Art||Fitz/W. H. Auden||Lyttelton Theatre, London|
|2012||The Sunshine Boys||Al||Savoy Theatre, London|
Awards and nominations
|1981||Clarence Derwent Awards||Best Supporting Male||N/A||Won|
|2003||Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards||Best Acting Ensemble||Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets||Nominated|
|2005||Laurence Olivier Awards||Best Actor||The History Boys||Won|
|2006||Tony Award||Best Actor in a Play||Won|
|Drama Desk Award||Outstanding Actor in a Play||Won|
|Outer Critics Circle Award||Best Actor in a Play||Won|
|Theatre World Award||N/A||Won|
|2007||British Academy Film Awards||Best Actor in a Leading Role||The History Boys||Nominated|
|London Film Critics' Circle||Best Actor of the Year||Nominated|
|Chlotrudis Awards||Best Supporting Actor||Nominated|
- Topping, Alexandra (29 March 2013). "Richard Griffiths, uncle to Withnail and Harry Potter, dies aged 65". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 March 2013.
- "Potter and Withnail actor Richard Griffiths dies". BBC Online. 29 March 2013. Retrieved 29 March 2013.
- "Richard Griffiths". Telegraph. 29 March 2013. Retrieved 31 March 2013.
- Laurence, Charles (4 October 2006). "Part 3 of Griffiths interview". Saga Magazine. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 11 April 2008.
- Wadler, Joyce (11 June 2006). "Richard Griffiths, Raised in Silence, Exults in Applause". The New York Times.
- "Teesside actor Richard Griffiths dies of complications following heart surgery". Teesside Evening Gazette. 29 March 2013. Retrieved 29 March 2013.
- "Alumni". The Manchester Metropolitan University School of Theatre web site. Retrieved 26 December 2020.
- Michael Quinn (8 April 2013). "Richard Griffiths". The Stage. Retrieved 24 December 2018.
- "In pictures: The career of Richard Griffiths". BBC News. 29 March 2013. Retrieved 24 December 2018.
- Spencer, Liese (28 June 1997). "The Full Monty". The Independent. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
- Bird, John (2 October 1981), William Beausire, John Morgan, Richard Griffiths, Alison Key, retrieved 28 December 2017
- Bruce Weber (29 March 2013). "Richard Griffiths, Falstaffian English Actor, Dies at 65". The New York Times. Retrieved 24 December 2018.
- Oliver Lyttelton (29 March 2013). "R.I.P. 'Withnail & I' And 'Harry Potter' Star Richard Griffiths (1947-2013)". IndieWire. Retrieved 24 December 2018.
- Memmott, Mark (29 March 2013). "Actor Richard Griffiths, Uncle Vernon In 'Harry Potter' Movies, Dies". NPR.org. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
- Garfield, Simon (9 October 2005). "Richard Griffiths: 'I've always hated the way I look'". The Observer. ISSN 0029-7712. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
- Silverman, Stephen M. (29 March 2013). "Richard Griffiths, Harry Potter Actor, Dies at 65". PEOPLE.com. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
- Weber, Bruce (29 March 2013). "Richard Griffiths, Falstaffian 'History Boys' Star, Dies at 65". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
- "Equus". London Theatre Guide. 8 June 2016. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
- Brantley, Ben (25 September 2008). "Daniel Radcliffe and Richard Griffiths in Thea Sharrock's Revival of Peter Shaffer's Drama". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
- Iqbal, Nosheen (2 October 2009). "Michael Gambon bows out of Alan Bennett's The Habit of Art". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
- "BBC Archive: Nearly Who". BBC.
- 1952–2001, Adams, Douglas (2005). The hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy radio scripts: the tertiary, quandary and quintessential phases. Maggs, Dirk., Hyman, Bruce., Chattwell, Helen., Above the Title (Firm). London: Pan. ISBN 0330435108. OCLC 58831947.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
- Jem, Roberts (10 September 2015). The Frood : the authorised and very official history of Douglas Adams & the hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy. London. ISBN 9780099590767. OCLC 920836076.
- "Bedtime Stories". TVGuide.com. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
- Andreeva, Nellie (8 September 2008). "It's gonna be a green Muppets Christmas". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
- "Actor snaps over ring mobile". BBC News. 22 November 2005. Retrieved 22 April 2007.
- Burkeman, Oliver (30 September 2006). "A break in the clouds". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
- "Exclusive: Pirates 4 News From Rush". Empireonline.com. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
- "Richard Griffiths Joins LeBlanc & Mangan In Showtime/BBC's 'Episodes'". Broadwayworld.com. 12 May 2010. Retrieved 28 December 2017.
- Kemp, Stuart (31 January 2012). "Danny DeVito to Make West End Debut in 'The Sunshine Boys'". The Hollywood Reporter.
- Farndale, Nigel (25 February 2007). "Big unfriendly giant". The Telegraph. Retrieved 29 March 2013.
- "New Years Honours List". BBC News. 29 December 2007. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
- "Jack Whitehall reveals what his dad Michael is really like". Radio Times. 20 November 2013. Retrieved 3 July 2016.
- "Potter and Withnail actor Richard Griffiths dies". BBC News. BBC. 29 March 2013. Retrieved 29 March 2013.
- "PG Wodehouse - Plum - Bookmark - BBC Documentary - 1989". BBC2. Retrieved 14 November 2015.
- "Richard Griffiths theatre profile". www.abouttheartists.com.
- "DeVito praised for West End debut". 18 May 2012 – via www.bbc.com.
- "Richard Griffiths". IMDb.
- Gordon, David (29 March 2013). "Tony Award Winner Richard Griffiths, Best-Known for the Harry Potter Films and Broadway's History Boys, Has Died". www.theatermania.com.
- "Richard Griffiths". Playbill. Retrieved 26 December 2020.
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