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'Withnail & I' actor Richard Griffiths dies aged 65

Veteran star passes away due to complications after heart surgery

'Withnail & I' actor Richard Griffiths dies aged 65

Actor Richard Griffiths has died, aged 65, following complications after heart surgery.

One of Britain's best-loved character actors, he's known for playing Vernon Dursley in the Harry Potter series of films, BBC comedy drama Pie In The Sky, The History Boys and, perhaps above all, for his portrayal of Uncle Monty in Withnail & I.

Daniel Radcliffe, who played Harry Potter alongside him, led tributes to the actor whose "encouragement, tutelage and humour" made work "a joy". Radcliffe, who also performed with Griffiths in the stage play Equus, said: "Richard was by my side during two of the most important moments of my career.

"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. 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, director of the National Theatre, said Griffiths's unexpected death would devastate his "army of friends", adding: "Richard Griffiths wasn't only one of the most loved and recognisable British actors - he was also one of the very greatest. His performance in The History Boys was quite overwhelming: a masterpiece of wit, delicacy, mischief and desolation, often simultaneously. But that was just one small part of a career that spanned Shakespeare, cutting-edge new plays and major work in film and television."

Griffiths died yesterday at the University Hospital of Coventry and Warwickshire.

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