29 March 2013 5:07 PM, PDT | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Actor of geniality, grace and solemnity, he excelled in playing characters on the margins of society

Richard Griffiths, who has died aged 65 from complications following heart surgery, was a fine actor defined by his largeness of spirit, his comic instinct and his empathy with outsiders, as well as his undeniable physical size. He was the kind of actor whom everyone remembers with affection, whether as the flawed but inspirational Hector in Alan Bennett's The History Boys (first staged in 2004, then filmed in 2006) or as the eccentrically gay Uncle Monty in Bruce Robinson's Withnail and I (1987).

Like most actors who have a thriving career in film and television, he learned his craft in theatre. I first became aware of him in the late 1970s when he rose steadily through the ranks of the Royal Shakespeare Company. I was especially struck by his ability to speak verse with mellifluous clarity. »

- Michael Billington

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