Griffiths acting career began on 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 just a few of his standout credits. The son of deaf mute parents, he learned sign language at an early age and, interestingly enough, developed a talent for dialects which allowed him to show off in a number of ethnic portrayals. Griffiths has been appearing in films since 1975 both in Britain and abroad, his most acclaimed roles have been in both contemporary and period pieces. Griffiths also played the part of a police detective-cum-restaurant owner and chef in Pie in the Sky.
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).
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.
Past performances/earlier career Griffiths was considered by the producers of Doctor Who for the role of the Doctor himself, however, the original series did not continue from 1989.
He has been in over sixty productions in both films and theatre.
Harry Potter career
Griffiths played the magic-disliking Uncle Vernon, who is married to Aunt Petunia, father to Dudley Dursley, brother to Aunt Marge, and uncle of Harry Potter. He had appeared in five of the films in the series. His part was written out altogether in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. His part in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 was also greatly reduced. He mentioned that he will miss the Dursleys very much now that the series is over.
Richard Griffiths has been known to take public issue with mobile/cell phones ringing in the audience during his stage performances.
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.
October 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.
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."
Griffiths was married to Heather Gibson. He was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2008 New Year Honours.
Griffiths died at the University Hospital Coventry on 28 March 2013, from complications due to heart surgery.
Behind the scenes
- By coincidence, his birthday was the same as that of Harry Potter and J. K. Rowling, 31st July.
- Griffiths appeared together with fellow Harry Potter film star Frances de la Tour (Olympe Maxime) in the 2011 film Hugo (a film adaptation of Brian Selznick's The Invention of Hugo Cabret), in which Griffith's character, Monsieur Frick, served as a love interest for de La Tour's character, Madame Emilie.
- Richard Griffiths at the Internet Broadway Database
- Actors On Performing Working in the Theatre Seminar video at American Theatre Wing, April 2006