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Richard Griffiths dies at 65

LONDON (AP) — Richard Griffiths, the versatile British actor who played the boy wizard's unsympathetic Uncle Vernon in the "Harry Potter" movies, has died. He was 65.

Agent Simon Beresford announced Friday that Griffiths died a day earlier of complications following heart surgery at University Hospital in Coventry, central England.

He paid tribute to Griffiths as "a remarkable man and one of our greatest and best-loved actors."

Griffiths appeared in dozens of movies and TV shows, but will be most widely remembered as a pair of contrasting uncles — the hero's grudging Muggle guardian in the "Harry Potter" series, and flamboyant Uncle Monty in 1980s cult classic "Withnail and I."

"I was proud to say I knew him," said "Harry Potter" star Daniel Radcliffe.

A large man and a huge stage presence, Griffiths was one of Britain's leading theater actors, creating roles including the charismatic teacher Hector at the emotional heart of Alan Bennett's "The History Boys" — a part he took to Broadway, winning a Tony Award, and repeated for the film adaptation.

National Theatre artistic director Nicholas Hytner, who directed "The History Boys," called Griffiths' performance in that play "a masterpiece of wit, delicacy, mischief and desolation, often simultaneously."

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