Vernon Dursley, RIP
March 29, 2013 6:49 AM   Subscribe

Richard Griffiths, star of stage and screen, perhaps globally best known for his role as Harry Potter's ill-willed uncle, has died at the age of 65 due to complications from heart surgery.

I personally will treasure Griffiths' performance in The History Boys as my remembrance of his work.
posted by hippybear (63 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
RIP Uncle Monty.
posted by Artw at 6:51 AM on March 29, 2013 [21 favorites]


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posted by Faint of Butt at 6:56 AM on March 29, 2013


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Come on lads, let's get home, the sky's beginning to bruise, night must fall and we shall be forced to camp.
posted by asok at 6:58 AM on March 29, 2013 [18 favorites]


Surely saying that Griffiths was best known for playing a bit part in the Harry Potter films is like saying that Sir Alec Guinness' claim to fame was Star Wars.

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posted by acb at 7:04 AM on March 29, 2013 [16 favorites]


"The older order changeth, yielding place to new. God fulfills himself in many ways. And soon, I suppose, I shall be swept away by some vulgar little tumour. Oh, my boys, my boys, we're at the end of an age. We live in a land of weather forcasts and breakfasts that set in. Shat on by Tories, shovelled up by Labour. And here we are, we three, perhaps the last island of beauty in the world. "
posted by Omission at 7:04 AM on March 29, 2013 [22 favorites]


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posted by Smart Dalek at 7:04 AM on March 29, 2013


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I remember him most as the grumpy chef in Pie In The Sky. I never watched it, but I assume he was an overweight chef who solved crimes, and I don't want to hear any other interpretation.

I am one of those few who didn't like Withnail, but he seemed to be a good character actor, and people of several generations seem to love his work.

I discovered tonight he was in Superman II as "Thug 3". I will now hunt down that scene.
posted by Mezentian at 7:05 AM on March 29, 2013


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This is very sad news. My current favourite Griffiths performance is as Potbelly, the Machiavellian Pharaoh in The Cleopatras, a criminally underrated television show. It is, of course, available on YouTube.
posted by bebrogued at 7:06 AM on March 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


RIP. He was the best part of the production I saw of Equus.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:06 AM on March 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Surely saying that Griffiths was best known for playing a bit part in the Harry Potter films is like saying that Sir Alec Guinness' claim to fame was Star Wars.

It is. And it is accurate.
Go, grab three people from the street. Or six. Or 60. I'll wait.
posted by Mezentian at 7:07 AM on March 29, 2013 [11 favorites]


Surely saying that Griffiths was best known for playing a bit part in the Harry Potter films is like saying that Sir Alec Guinness' claim to fame was Star Wars.
So, true for the vast majority of contemporary movie watchers?
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:08 AM on March 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


You owe me a Coke.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:08 AM on March 29, 2013


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*lights a Camberwell Carrot to toast Mr Griffiths passing.*
posted by marienbad at 7:10 AM on March 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


I have Pepsi Max (the Extreme version) and TAB.
I might have a Jolt Cola somewhere, but it might be manky. It's from the 1990s.
posted by Mezentian at 7:10 AM on March 29, 2013


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posted by lalochezia at 7:20 AM on March 29, 2013


Surely saying that Griffiths was best known for playing a bit part in the Harry Potter films is like saying that Sir Alec Guinness' claim to fame was Star Wars.

Well, sure, but Mezentian and MrMoonPie are correct. For newer generations, he will be known as Uncle Vernon. Sorry. My frame of reference is Uncle Monty as well, but then I'm in my mid-thirties. Expecting anyone a decade younger than me and under to know him as anyone but Harry Potter's uncle is, um, potty.

That said:

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posted by Kitteh at 7:21 AM on March 29, 2013


I remember watching Pie in the Sky when I was younger, but didn't know him from anything else. However, somebody at the time was spreading the rumor that Griffiths was the fat X-Wing pilot from Star Wars. Sadly this is untrue.
posted by Jehan at 7:26 AM on March 29, 2013


The last thing I saw him in was Episodes where he was good-naturedly playing himself—an elder, respected star of a History Boys-like Britcom who kindly re-auditions for the same part in the American remake... and botches it entirely.
posted by infinitewindow at 7:33 AM on March 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


His appearance on The Vicar of Dibley is one of my favorite scenes ever.

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posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 7:34 AM on March 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


I mainly know him as the scientist/scientist's evil double from the second Naked Gun movie.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:35 AM on March 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


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posted by marginaliana at 7:38 AM on March 29, 2013


Aw, gee.

He was so awesome in Withnail & I. Dang.

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posted by droplet at 7:42 AM on March 29, 2013


It's true, he crept the boards in his youth.

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posted by adipocere at 7:45 AM on March 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


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One of the all-time great British "Hey, it's that guy!"s.
posted by Etrigan at 7:50 AM on March 29, 2013


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posted by nikitabot at 7:56 AM on March 29, 2013


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posted by DreamerFi at 8:04 AM on March 29, 2013


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I'm not that big on Withnail either, but I was able to see him onstage in The History Boys and Equus and was completely blown away.
posted by brujita at 8:04 AM on March 29, 2013


However, somebody at the time was spreading the rumor that Griffiths was the fat X-Wing pilot from Star Wars. Sadly this is untrue.

Porkins (the unfortunately-named X-Wing pilot) was actually played by William Hootkins, who you may also recognize as the crooked Detective Eckhardt from the first Tim Burton Batman film, as well as the military intelligence suit in Raiders who assures Indy that "top men" are studying the Ark. So there's still plenty of geek-cinema synergy to be had.
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:21 AM on March 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


I mainly know him as the scientist/scientist's evil double from the second Naked Gun movie.


Oh, wow. Of course it's the same guy. Such a ""Hey, it's that guy!" that he continues to be so even in death.

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posted by MCMikeNamara at 8:27 AM on March 29, 2013


I will never play the Dane.

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posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:28 AM on March 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think one of my earlier memories of him was in Bird of Prey, which I remember as fantastic.
posted by idb at 8:30 AM on March 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


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Also, WRT great actors being primarily known for more populist works, hey, there's always the possibility of people looking up their better work because of it. Griffiths starred with Daniel Radcliffe in a production of Equus, and if much of the audience showed up to see the erstwhile young wizard present the full monty, they also ended up seeing Equus.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:33 AM on March 29, 2013


I was a horse-crazy kid in the 70's and remember when a production of Equus came to LA(which I was not taken to see);my college library had a copy of the script.
posted by brujita at 8:38 AM on March 29, 2013


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Farewell Uncle Monty.
posted by arcticseal at 8:46 AM on March 29, 2013


I think one of my earlier memories of him was in Bird of Prey, which I remember as fantastic.

Bird of Prey was one of my favourite things ever in the 80s... watched it again (and again) when it came out on DVD a bit back and though it has aged (oh a computer with a whole 4MB of RAM! Euro-crime!) it still holds up well and Griffiths is brilliant in it.

I'm sure for the vast majority of people he's going to be 'that bloke from the Harry Potter films' but I had to smile when I was reminded his morning that when Sir John Gielgud died The Star's headline was 'Butler From Arthur Dies'
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:47 AM on March 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


'I sometimes wonder where Norman is now. Probably wintering with his mother in Guildford. A cat, rain, Vim under the sink, and both bars on. But old now, old. There can be no true beauty without decay.'

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posted by brilliantmistake at 8:52 AM on March 29, 2013 [6 favorites]


I was reminded his morning that when Sir John Gielgud died The Star's headline was 'Butler From Arthur Dies'

In fairness, it was the role that won Gielgud his only Academy Award (and one of his only two nominations), in possibly the most egregious Supporting Lifetime Achievement Award win of all time.
posted by Etrigan at 9:08 AM on March 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


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posted by drnick at 9:20 AM on March 29, 2013


Whether one likes Whitnail and I, one must confess that Uncle Monty is a tour de force.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 9:20 AM on March 29, 2013


I remember him most as the grumpy chef in Pie In The Sky. I never watched it, but I assume he was an overweight chef who solved crimes, and I don't want to hear any other interpretation.

First seasons are well worth your time, later ones, not so much.

Consistently worth anyone's time was the series Ffizz, which was pulled well before its time. Track it down if you can.
posted by BWA at 9:25 AM on March 29, 2013


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I absolutely loved Withnail and I and History Boys. The world is poorer, without new Richard Griffiths to look forward to.
posted by kalimac at 9:39 AM on March 29, 2013


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posted by Gelatin at 9:50 AM on March 29, 2013


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posted by brundlefly at 9:56 AM on March 29, 2013


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posted by LobsterMitten at 10:06 AM on March 29, 2013


He did a great Mr. Mulliner on BBC radio.

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posted by zadcat at 10:16 AM on March 29, 2013


Five bucks to anyone who wears a radish in their lapel in memoriam.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:53 AM on March 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I cannot understand people who do not like Withnail. I don't even understand how it's possible to be lukewarm about it. It's simply the greatest film ever made.
posted by Decani at 12:07 PM on March 29, 2013 [9 favorites]


I discovered tonight he was in Superman II as "Thug 3". I will now hunt down that scene.

Terrorist 3. He is one of ze Franch terroreests at ze tower Eiffel wiz ze houtRAGEous ackzent (for his two lines). To observe his passing -- and because I learned that the missus had somehow never seen a Superman movie -- we watched the first two today. It is shocking how many hey-it's-that-guy appearances there are. The reporter who is on the scene describing General Zod and Co.'s arrival in Superman II, for example, is played by Richard LeParmentier, whose name few remember but whom every gen-X kid can hear saying:
Don't try to frighten us with your sorcerer's ways, Lord Vader. Your sad devotion to that ancient Jedi religion has not helped you conjure up the stolen data tapes, or given you enough clairvoyance to find the rebels' hidden fortress... [ack]
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:11 PM on March 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


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posted by NailsTheCat at 12:25 PM on March 29, 2013


Fondly remembered by everyone with the words 'you terrible cunt!'

What a role.

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posted by colie at 12:52 PM on March 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Come on lads, let's get home, the sky's beginning to bruise, night must fall and we shall be forced to camp.

This is one of the greatest single lines of dialog ever delivered. It doesn't look like much, but Griffiths' delivery polishes it onto an absolute jewel.

But this: The older order changeth, yielding place to new. God fulfills himself in many ways. And soon, I suppose, I shall be swept away by some vulgar little tumour.

Is so apropos that it just hurts.

Godspeed, sir.
posted by Devils Rancher at 1:36 PM on March 29, 2013


Oh, no! A good, no a GREAT actor. Thanks for every moment on the screen.

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posted by but no cigar at 2:59 PM on March 29, 2013


Unforgettable in The History Boys, and his performance in the first Potter was an influential moment for me. Most of the adult actors camped up their already cartoony characters, but Griffiths -- playing perhaps the most cringily cartoony character in Rowling's whole world -- managed to give Vernon a touch of nuance and interior life. I still remember the malevolent glance that he gives Harry while he burns the letters. Very-young-me hadn't thought much about the craft of acting, and this gave me a glimpse of what a skilled and committed actor can do: take a mean little role and make it smarter.
posted by thesmallmachine at 3:25 PM on March 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Richard Griffiths by James Corden: goodbye Rizzo – we miss you already
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:33 PM on March 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Perfect.

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posted by postagepaid at 5:15 PM on March 29, 2013


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posted by grubby at 5:32 PM on March 29, 2013


Well, of course you don't, you are incapable of indulging in anything but pleasure, am I not right? You don't deserve such loyalty. Now, come along, I'm going to teach you how to peel a potato.
posted by Divine_Wino at 8:15 PM on March 29, 2013


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posted by radwolf76 at 9:08 PM on March 29, 2013


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I'll always remember him for his heartbreaking performance in The History Boys. RIP.
posted by cucumber patch at 12:55 AM on March 30, 2013


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Oh, man. I actually started watching Pie in the Sky last month and just finished the last episode of the series last week, so the show is pretty fresh in my mind. While watching the episodes, I had looked up the Wikipedia pages of the show and various cast members and had been pleased to see Richard Griffiths still doing well... This is such sad news.

(Spoilers for a nearly 20-year-old show:)
Although his character (Crabbe -- yes, that's his surname) on the show was typically described as a good detective who really wanted to retire and be a full-time chef, I loved the fact that he liked books, too. One of my favorite scenes was from the first season, when he tells Margaret (his wife) about one of his favorite food writers, Hilary Smallwood (fictional). He can't believe Margaret's never heard of Hilary Smallwood; he rattles off some of her famous book titles (I remember one called "The Secret Life of the Peppercorn"), then starts reading aloud from one of them. The way he reads that passage is so wonderful -- you can see his demeanor change as he prepares to read and then begins. There's a sense that it could be parodical/funny as he launches into the text, but IMO it doesn't turn out that way at all because Griffiths totally sells it. Of course, Crabbe then looks up to see that Margaret has fallen asleep, and *then* he says a funny line, which fits in with the humor of the show.

(Eventually in a nice turn of events, Crabbe gets to meet and become sort-of-friends with the outwardly grumpy Smallwood, after he wins her over with his cooking. As a viewer I was so happy for him when this happened, and this was pretty early on in the series. Griffiths made me care about him.)
posted by rangefinder 1.4 at 2:01 AM on March 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


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posted by Atreides at 7:34 AM on March 30, 2013


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posted by Athanassiel at 1:02 AM on March 31, 2013 [1 favorite]


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posted by NordyneDefenceDynamics at 7:10 PM on April 1, 2013


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