Veteran British actor Richard Griffiths dies

Seasoned stage and screen performer Richard Griffiths has died of complications following heart surgery at the age of 65.

Richard Griffiths (left) in The History Boys, pictured here with co-star Dominic Cooper.
Richard Griffiths (left) in The History Boys, pictured here with co-star Dominic Cooper.

Younger audiences may have known Griffiths as Vernon Durnsley from Harry Potter, but the British actor was a mainstay of UK cinema for decades, having achieved renown following his turn as 'Uncle Monty' in the cult classic black comedy Withnail and I (1987).

He won a Tony award - a prominent theatrical accolade - for his role in Alan Bennett's 2004 drama The History Boys, where he played the the inspirational-but-suspect history teacher Douglas Hector. He would go on to reprise the role in the play's 2006 film adaptation.

On stage, he would also rejoin his Harry Potter co-star Daniel Radcliffe for a revival of Peter Shaffer's provocative drama Equus in 2007.

Like most British actors of his professional standing, he would continue to toggle between home-grown British work and mainstream American cinema: appearing in blockbuster hits like Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Hugo concurrently with British television specials like Charles Dickens adaptation Bleak House and The Hollow Crown - Henry V.

He also notably appeared in the 1982 Oscar-winning biopic Gandhi, in which he played a British journalist.

Griffiths once said that, had he had his 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."

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