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Richard Griffiths
Born 31 July 1947 (1947-07-31) (age 62)
Thornaby-on-Tees, Cleveland, England
Occupation Actor
Years active 1974–present
Spouse(s) Heather Gibson (1980-present)

Richard Griffiths, OBE (born 31 July 1947) is an English actor of stage, film and television. He has received the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor, the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Play, the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play, and the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play, all for his role in the play The History Boys. He is also known for his portrayal of Vernon Dursley in the Harry Potter films, Uncle Monty in Withnail and I and Henry Crabbe in Pie in the Sky.


Early years

Griffiths was born in a house in Westbury Street in Thornaby-on-Tees, Stockton, England to a steelworker father and a bagger mother.[1] He had a Catholic upbringing.[2] The son of deaf parents, he learned sign language at an early age in order to communicate with them. He even developed an ear for dialects that subsequently landed him several ethnic roles. In his childhood he attempted to run away from home many times. He dropped out of Our Lady & St Bede school at age 15 and worked as a porter for a while, but his boss eventually convinced him to go back to school. Here he decided to attend a drama class at Stockton & Billingham College. He continued his education in drama at Manchester Polytechnic School of Drama (which is now known as the Manchester School of Theatre).[3]


After graduating, Griffiths earned a spot on BBC Radio. He also worked in small theatres, sometimes acting and sometimes managing. He built up an early reputation as a Shakespearean "clown" with portrayals of the Constable in The Comedy of Errors and Falstaff in The Merry Wives of Windsor with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and went on to play the King in Henry VIII.

He eventually settled in Manchester and began to get lead roles in plays. From there he began to appear on television and then got his big break in film in It Shouldn't Happen to a Vet (1975). By the early 1980s he was selected for the lead role in the BBC drama serial Bird of Prey (1982) and supporting roles in a number of major films, including The French Lieutenant's Woman, Chariots of Fire, and Gandhi. On stage, in 1986 he performed the role of Verdi in Julian Mitchell's After Aida, at the Old Vic Theatre in London.

Griffiths' more recognised film roles have been in both contemporary and period pieces such as Gorky Park (1983), Withnail and I (1987), King Ralph (1991), The Naked Gun 2½: The Smell of Fear (1991), Guarding Tess (1994), and Sleepy Hollow (1999). Recently he has been seen as Vernon Dursley in the Harry Potter series (Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix; the Dursleys were absent in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.)

Although typically known for comic performances, he is probably best recognised, aside from Harry Potter, as Inspector Henry Crabbe, disillusioned policeman and pie chef extraordinaire, in the British detective drama Pie in the Sky, a role which was created specifically for him. He also made an extended appearance in the 2005 version of Charles Dickens' Bleak House. In 2004, he originated the role of Hector (the teacher) in Alan Bennett's play The History Boys, directed by Nicholas Hytner, winning the 2005 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor. During the play's subsequent United States run, he added a Drama Desk Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award, and a Tony Award. He reprised his role in the movie version which was released in October 2006. Together with Daniel Radcliffe, who plays Harry Potter, he appeared in a stage revival of Peter Shaffer's Equus at the Gielgud Theatre in London, and later from October 2008 in a short run of the play at the Broadhurst Theatre on Broadway which ended in February 2009. Later in 2009 he replaced Michael Gambon as WH Auden prior to the premiere of The Habit of Art at the National Theatre, once again directed by Hytner.

Griffiths was at one point considered for the part of the Doctor in Doctor Who following Tom Baker's departure in 1981, but was unavailable[citation needed]. He was strongly considered once again to take on the role of the Eighth Doctor, had the series continued past 1989[citation needed]. Coincidentally, his two principal co-stars from Withnail and I--Paul McGann and Richard E. Grant - went on to play the role in some capacity.[4] Griffiths has also performed in adaptations of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, providing the voice for Slartibartfast for the radio adaptation of Life, the Universe and Everything and playing the Vogon Jeltz in the film version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. He has also appeared in Bedtime Stories with Adam Sandler, and as a special guest in A Muppet Christmas: Letters to Santa.

During a performance of The History Boys, Griffiths became so annoyed at a man in the audience whose mobile phone rang repeatedly through the play that Griffiths stopped acting after the sixth time and ordered the man out of the theatre. More recently, Griffiths asked an audience member to leave a performance of Heroes after her phone rang three times.[5] This interruption of a performance due to audience distraction has happened no less than three times in his career.[6][7][8]

He was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2008 New Year Honours. He is married to Heather Gibson.

Griffiths's agent has confirmed that he will reprise his role as Vernon Dursley in the first part of the final Harry Potter films.






External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Richard Griffiths (born 1947-07-31) is a Tony-award winning English actor who has appeared on stage, film and television.


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • You can't tell yet. We're a bad part of the story, the unliked. Of course there's the basic difference, which is the form of how each one treats the project and everyone knows that the story will become much darker from now on. What I thought was interesting, is that Alfonso showed us that there should be more fear. Harry's more powerful each time. We're not a threat to him anymore. Now he can act on his own, in a frightening way. In the beginning, we were evil. Now, we want to be, but we don't have this power anymore. We were scared all the time, that Harry was gonna do something to us.

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