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Richard Griffiths Poster

Biography

Jump to: Overview (4)  | Mini Bio (1)  | Spouse (1)  | Trivia (16)  | Personal Quotes (6)

Overview (4)

Born in Thornaby-on-Tees, North Yorkshire, England, UK
Died in University Hospital, Coventry, West Midlands, England, UK  (complications following heart surgery)
Birth NameRichard Thomas Griffiths
Height 5' 9" (1.75 m)

Mini Bio (1)

British character actor Richard Griffiths came from radio and the classical stage where he built up an early reputation as a Shakespearean clown, with larger-than-life portrayals of Henry VIII, Falstaff in "The Merry Wives of Windsor" and Bottom in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" with the Royal Shakespeare Company being just a few of his standout credits. He was brought up in a council flat in less than prosperous conditions, the son of deaf and volatile parents in a dysfunctional family setting. He had to learn sign language at an early age. His world did not include television and he had to explain to his father what music sounded like. Despite these obstacles, Griffiths developed a talent for dialects which later allowed him to shine in a number of ethnic portrayals. In films from 1975 on both sides of the Atlantic, his better roles have been in both contemporary and period pieces, such a Gorky Park (1983), Withnail & I (1987), King Ralph (1991), Guarding Tess (1994), Sleepy Hollow (1999) and recently the 'Harry Potter' series as Uncle Vernon Dursley. In a 2007 interview Griffiths declared "I like playing Vernon Dursley in Harry Potter because that gives me a licence to be horrible to kids. I hate the odious business of sucking up to the public." In fact, unlike those jovial characters he so often portrayed on screen, Griffiths did not tolerate fools gladly. On occasion, he would get stroppy with members of an audience, notably those failing to switch off their mobile phones during a performance (then again, who could blame him ?). He was also highly thought of as a raconteur and wit.

The ever-versatile, often bespectacled and bearded Griffiths did his best work for the small screen, particularly excelling as the inquisitive and resourceful civil servant Henry Jay in Bird of Prey (1982) and as the lovable 'cooking policeman' Henry Crabbe in Pie in the Sky (1994), a role specially created for him. As comic relief he made many a hilarious guest appearance, in, among other popular series, The Vicar of Dibley (1994) (as the Bishop of Mulberry) and as Dr. Bayham Badger in the superb BBC adaption of Bleak House (2005). He could also play evil and sinister, none more so than Swelter in Gormenghast (2000), a character Griffiths described being at once "laughably comic" and "a monster like Idi Amin". One of Britain's best-loved character actors, Griffiths received an OBE in 2008. He died on March 28 2013 as a result of complications from heart surgery.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Gary Brumburgh & I.S.Mowis

Spouse (1)

Heather Gibson (1980 - 28 March 2013) ( his death)

Trivia (16)

Was considered by producers for the role of "The Doctor" in Doctor Who (1963), had the series' original run continued past 1989.
2004 - Won the Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Hector in "The History Boys" at the National Theatre (Lyttleton) (London).
November 2005: Was performing in the stage play "Heroes" in London's Wyndham Theatre when a lady's mobile phone kept ringing in the audience. After it rang a third time, he stopped the play and - to loud applause - had her ejected from the theatre.
He was awarded the 2006 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play for his performance as "Hector" in Alan Bennett's "The History Boys.".
Won the 2006 Antoinette Perry (Tony) Award for Best Actor in A Leading Role in a Play for "The History Boys". The presenter of the award to Griffiths was Julia Roberts.
June 2005: he ordered a man out of the National Theatre, London, when his mobile phone went off for the sixth time during a performance of Alan Bennett's "The History Boys". The actor stopped in the middle of his lines, fixed the offender with an icy stare and said: "I am asking you to stand up, leave this auditorium and never, ever come back". Other members of the audience applauded as the man left the theatre.
May 2006: 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."
Has, at least twice, played a dual role, once in Whoops Apocalypse (1982) as a replacement "Premier Dubienkin" (as well as the original), and in The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear (1991) as "Dr. Meinheimer" and impersonator "Earl Hacker".
He was awarded the O.B.E. (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2008 Queen's New Years Honours List for his services to drama.
Gave the commencement speech to the Oxford University Class of 2008.
London, England: Acting in the play "Equus" with Daniel Radcliffe, who he is also acting with in the Harry Potter films. [February 2007]
London, England: Appearing as Fitz and W.H. Auden in the world premiere of "The Habit of Art" by 'Alan Bennett' at the Lyttleton Theatre in the National Theatre. [November 2009]
Replaced the late Richard Vernon as Slartibartfast in the new "Tertiary Phase" episodes of "The Hitch Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy" BBC4 radio series, adapted from the late Douglas Adams' books 3-5 of the "trilogy". Phase 4 ("Quandary") is slated for 2005, with phase 5 ("Quintessential") to follow. [September 2004]
He appeared in two Best Picture Academy Award winners in consecutive years: Chariots of Fire (1981) and Gandhi (1982). John Gielgud and Ian Charleson also appeared in both films.
The eleventh Harry Potter film series cast member to die.
Son of Jane Griffiths (born Jane Ann Denmark on 8 December 1899) and Thomas Griffiths (born 22 July 1915) who married in 1946. Both were deaf. Both died in 1976.

Personal Quotes (6)

I hate being the subject of photographs.
I've always hated the way I looked...
Winning is something you've dreamed about and hoped for, so that when you get there it's no big deal. But if you lose you're gutted, and the gutted sense just goes on, and I know what that's like, because I've been having that gutted feeling since 1979.
(On Uncle Vernon from the Harry Potter movies) "Vernon distrusts Harry completely and is always concerned that he is going to do something strange at any moment. That is Vernon's biggest fear - he doesn't want anything strange happening that the neighbours might see."
If I had my way, all actors over 55 would be issued a 3-lb. wet salmon with which to slap the face of every young, beautiful, successful upstart. 'That's for being so lucky, you bastard!' I would shout. And then, hit them again, if you can.
I know actors who hold parties simply because they have an audition, which is tragic.

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