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Richard Griffiths, famous to audiences around the world as Harry Potter's ghastly Uncle Vernon Dursley, has died at the age of 65. His part in the Harry Potter franchise, like it was for so many great British actors, was just a capstone on a long and hugely varied career, including a stint opposite Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe, in Equus onstage. Radcliffe paid tribute to Griffiths in a statement to The Guardian:
"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," he said.
Griffiths was also known to fans of the 1987 British comedy Withanil & I, playing the flamboyantly gay Uncle Monty. Since you've surely already seen his work as Uncle Vernon, check out this clip of his riotous work in Withnail:
He trained with the Royal Shakespeare Company and acted in theater throughout his career, winning a Tony Award and a slew of other prizes in 2006 for his performance as the teacher in The History Boys (a role he reprised for the film). His IMDB page, under "trivia," recounts what happened during the Broadway production when an audience member's cell phone went off:
When a mobile rang out for the third time during his performance as Hector, a teacher, in Alan Bennett's The History Boys at the Broadhurst Theatre in New York, Griffiths rounded on the theatregoer and thundered: "I am not going to compete with these electronic devices. You were told to turn them off by the stage manager; you were told it was against the law. If we hear one more phone go off, we'll quit this performance. You have been warned."Griffiths was a unique, instantly recognizable and unfailingly memorable screen presence. He is gone too soon, and he will be missed.