Veteran English actor Richard Griffiths has passed away today, and the worlds of film, theatre and television have lost a great talent. Griffiths was a master of portraying sinister, bulging characters, and his distinctive appearance lead to many a memorable role over the course of his lengthy career. Griffiths began acting in the mid-1970s, starting on the stage and moving into film and television. I first took note of him in the 1980s when he began appearing in films such as Chariots of Fire and Gandhi, but I’m not ashamed to admit that the first role I ever remember seeing him in was in The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear.
My favourite Griffiths role is one that was from the early years of his film career: as the flamboyant and oddly menacing Uncle Monty in Withnail & I – a role that you’ll not soon forget after you see it. Garlic, rosemary and salt.
I also loved him in Sleepy Hollow, as his appearance made him a perfect castmember in a Tim Burton film, and in the mini-series Gormenghast in which he played Swelter, the tusked castle cook. However, younger folks probably know Griffiths best for his role as Uncle Vernon Dursley (he was apparently typecast as uncles) in the Harry Potter films Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1. Other notable credits on Richard Griffiths’ acting resume include The History Boys, Superman II, King Ralph, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, and Hugo. Griffiths passed away due to complications following heart surgery at the age of 65. R.I.P. Uncle Monty.