Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
The Future Of Film
The 100 Greatest Video Games
The Making Of The West Wing
Subscribe To Empire Today
Save money and get 12 issues for only £25
London Film Festival 2014
Our round-up of the galas, films and interviews
Movie News

LATEST HEADLINES
YESTERDAY
First Look At Dad's Amy
Don't Panic! Walmington-On-Sea's finest is here
New Trailer For Michelle Williams' Suite Française
Love in a controlled climate
Ben Wheatley Taps Luke Evans For Free Fire
'It’s a modern ‘70s movie. Muscular, tough and spare'
Warners Finding Female Director For Wonder Woman
Movie studio seeks F. Must have GSOH (Good Sense Of Helming)
Seth Rogen And More Head For Zeroville
James Franco's latest novel adaptation
Todd Solondz Returning To The Dollhouse
Wiener-Dog will revisit old friends
Podcast #134: Steve Carell, David Ayer
Shipping out
More Movie News

RELATED NEWS
15 June 2012
The Empire Podcast #16 Is Here!
Kermit and Pepe, DeVito and Griffiths!
Empire's Special Sunshine Boys Podcast
Danny DeVito and Richard Griffiths
More Movie News

RELATED REVIEWS
Hugo (2011)
Empire Star Rating
Pirates Of The Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)
Empire Star Rating
Withnail And I (2007)
Empire Star Rating
Venus (2007)
Empire Star Rating
The History Boys
Empire Star Rating
More new cinemas releases
DVD & Blu-ray releases

Richard Griffiths 1947-2013
The legendary character actor has died

29 March 2013  |  Written by Owen Williams  

submit to reddit

Richard Griffiths: Withnail's Uncle Monty, Vernon Dursley

Sad news to start this Easter weekend: the much-loved character actor (and Empire podcast raconteur) Richard Griffiths has died following complications after heart surgery. He was 65.

Justly celebrated for a wide variety of roles on film, television and stage, he was famous as different characters to different generations. The younger among us probably knew him best as the odious Vernon Dursley in the Harry Potter films. To many of the rest of us, he'll always be Withnail's Uncle Monty. 

He was much more, though. Growing up in Yorkshire, the son of deaf parents with whom he spoke in sign language, he left school at 15, but would eventually study drama at what's now the Manchester School of Theatre. His early stage work lead him to the Royal Shakespeare Company, where he gained some renown as Falstaff in The Merry Wives Of Windsor, and as Henry VIII (he never did play The Dane).

His break in film came with It Shouldn't Happen To A Vet in 1975, and he subsequently made appearances in the likes of The French Lieutenant's Woman, Chariots Of Fire, Gandhi and Greystoke, before attempting to seduce Paul McGann and rhapsodising the humble carrot in Withnail And I. He played twins in The Naked Gun 2½, and Magistrate Philipse in Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow. He was in five of the eight Harry Potter films, and most recently had roles in Martin Scorsese's Hugo and the Michael Morpurgo adaptation Private Peaceful.

On television, he racked up parts in series like The Sweeney, Bergerac and Inspector Morse, and fronted his own detective series, Pie In The Sky, from 1994-97. His penultimate small-screen role was in the early episodes of Episodes, playing an actor famous for essentially playing the same character he'd made his own (to the sound of an avalanche of awards) in Alan Bennet's The History Boys, both on stage and in its film version. He was last seen as Henry V's Duke Of Burgundy in NBC's Shakespearean series The Hollow Crown. He was awarded the OBE in 2008.

"In August 2000, before official production had even begun on Harry Potter, we filmed a shot outside the Dursleys', which was my first ever shot as Harry," said Daniel Radcliffe in tribute. "I was nervous and he made me feel at ease. 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 humour made it a joy. In fact, any room he walked into was made twice as funny and twice as clever just by his presence. I am proud to say I knew him."

Sir Nicholas Hytner, who directed Griffiths in The History Boys at the National Theatre, said he was "one of the most loved and recognisable British actors [and] also one of the very greatest". He called Griffiths' performance as the English teacher Douglas Hector, "overwhelming: a masterpiece of wit, delicacy, mischief and desolation, often simultaneously."

Richard E. Grant toasted his erstwhile uncle on his way with, "Chin chin, dear friend." So say all of us.


Have Your Say
To comment on this, and all articles, register for free or login now.

G.I. Joe Sequel Rocks The US Box Office
The Host arrives in sixth place
Disney Re-Scales Pete's Dragon
UPDATE: David Lowery in talks to direct his script

Your Comments

Too Soon
Whenever I read GoT books I always saw Wyman Manderly being played by Richard Griffiths. He was such a fantastic actor More

Posted by bnicholson50 at 17:24 on 05 April 2013 | Report This Post

Great actor
Whether it was "Pie in the sky" or "Harry Potter", he was always so watchable regardless of the character he played. So sad that he's passed away. More

Posted by oldstuff at 22:46 on 30 March 2013 | Report This Post

a sad day
a great loss, i will always remember you as the great uncle monty, chin chin More

Posted by montaguehwithnail at 11:06 on 30 March 2013 | Report This Post

RE: Perfect Character Actor
Goodbye Uncle Monty Chin! Chin! P More

Posted by Wild about Wilder at 10:00 on 30 March 2013 | Report This Post

Perfect Character Actor
In a world obsessed with fame what a sad loss of a man who was truly a character first. More

Posted by andrewgc at 22:35 on 29 March 2013 | Report This Post

God speed to a continuously happy place:)
You will always be the greatest uncle none of us ever had! Chin, chin More

Posted by coomi77 at 21:36 on 29 March 2013 | Report This Post

Sad loss!
A great British actor who gave us so many great and memorable performances. Rest in peace, a very sad loss. More

Posted by dannyfletch at 20:52 on 29 March 2013 | Report This Post

I loved his recent Empire podcast
His anecdote about Lee Marvin and Spencer Tracy was priceless. What a great actor, and such a generous person. RIP More

Posted by stevos at 17:29 on 29 March 2013 | Report This Post

Chin, chin
and thank you for giving us very memorable performances. R.I.P. More

Posted by nybras at 16:22 on 29 March 2013 | Report This Post

R.I.P.
Condolences to your family. 65 is way too young. More

Posted by Jonda Fett at 16:18 on 29 March 2013 | Report This Post

SPECIAL FEATURE
The 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time EMPIRE READERS' POLL: THE 301 GREATEST MOVIES OF ALL TIME
You turned out in your hundreds and thousands, and here are the results... Browse the full list


CURRENT HIGHLIGHTS
The Empire Podcast: David Ayer Talks Fury
Plus Steve Carell talks Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

Avengers: Age Of Ultron Trailer Reaction
We dive under the hood of Whedon's sequel teaser

10 Of The Most Impressive In-Universe Movie Tie-In Websites
From Blair Witch to Days Of Future Past, expand your cinematic horizons online

The 12 Apps Every Film Fan Needs On Their Smartphone
The handheld essentials to enhance your movie life

Empire Meets Jason Bateman And Tina Fey
The stars of This Is Where I Leave You hang out

The Scariest Film Of The Year? Jennifer Kent On The Babadook
The director talks us through her terrifying new film

10 Horror Spin-Offs We Want To See
After Annabelle, what other supporting characters deserve their own film?

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Only £25!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save money on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 12 issues of Empire for just £25!
Get the world's greatest movie magazine delivered straight to your door! Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)