Obituary: Richard Griffths / Uncle Vernon in 'Harry Potter' films

July 31, 1947 - March 28, 2013

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British actor Richard Griffiths, best known for playing muggle Uncle Vernon Dursley in the "Harry Potter" movies, has died.

Mr. Griffiths died Thursday at University Hospital in Coventry, England, from complications following heart surgery, his agent, Simon Beresford, told the Associated Press. He was 65.

Large in body and presence, Mr. Griffiths appeared in character roles in dozens of films and TV shows, but made his biggest mark as the boy wizard's grumpy uncle.

"Harry Potter" star Daniel Radcliffe said Mr. Griffiths' true demeanor was far kinder.

"Richard was by my side during two of the most important moments of my career," Mr. Radcliffe said in a statement. "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 humor 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."

Mr. Griffiths won a Tony Award for his role as a charismatic teacher in "The History Boys," and reprised the part in the 2006 film adaptation of the school drama.

Born in northeast England's Thormaby-on-Tees in 1947 to parents who were deaf and mute, Mr. Griffith had a knack for nonverbal expression.

He spent a decade with the Royal Shakespeare Co., and had parts in movies including "Withnail and I," "Gandhi," "The Naked Gun 2 1/2" and "Hugo."

Mr. Griffiths' last major stage role was in a West End production of Neil Simon's comedy "The Sunshine Boys" last year opposite Danny DeVito. The pair had been due to reprise their roles in Los Angeles later this year.

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