‘Harry Potter’ co-star Daniel Radcliffe said Friday that he was “proud to say I knew him.”

British actor Richard Griffiths, best known for his roles in ‘Withnail and I‘ and the Harry Potter films, has died at the age of 65 after complications following heart surgery, his agent said on Friday.

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LONDON (AP) — Richard Griffiths, the versatile British actor who played the boy wizard’s unsympathetic Uncle Vernon in the Harry Pottermovies, 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 Potterstar 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.”

Griffiths also played poet W.H. Auden in Bennett’s The Habit of Art, a hugely persuasive performance despite the lack of physical resemblance between the two men.

Known for his sense of humor, large store of theatrical anecdotes and occasional bursts of temper, Griffiths was renowned for shaming audience members whose cell phones rang during plays by stopping the performance and ordering the offender to leave.

Griffiths’ last major stage role was in a West End production of Neil Simon‘s comedyThe Sunshine Boys last year opposite Danny DeVito.

In 2007 he appeared in a London production of Equus alongside the then 17-year-old Radcliffe.

“Richard was by my side during two of the most important moments of my career,” Radcliffe said Friday.

“In August 2000, before official production had even begun on Potter, we filmed a shot outside the Dursleys’, which was my first ever shot as Harry. I was nervous and he made me feel at ease.

”Seven years later, we embarked on Equus together. It was my first time doing a play but, terrified as I was, his encouragement, tutelage and humor made it a joy.

“In fact, any room he walked into was made twice as funny and twice as clever just by his presence.”

Griffiths is survived by his wife, Heather Gibson.

Your memories of Richard Griffiths

British actor Richard Griffiths has died at the age of 65 due to complications following heart surgery.

His most prominent roles include Uncle Monty in the film Withnail and I and Vernon Dursley, the grumpy uncle, in the Harry Potter films.

In 2006 he won a Tony award in New York and an Olivier award in London for the role of Hector in Alan Bennett’s’s stage version of The History Boys, a role he later reprised on film.

On television he was best known as the policeman chef Henry Crabbe in Pie in the Sky.

BBC News website readers have been sharing some of their memories of meeting Richard Griffiths.

Lorna May Wadsworth, London

Richard Griffiths as Hector in The History Boys
Richard Griffiths as Hector in The History Boys, painted in oil by Lorna May Wadsworth

Richard Griffiths sat for a portrait for me on the stage of The National Theatre when he was in The History Boys.

He was as delightful as a huge fan of his Uncle Monty could wish for, spontaneously spouting poetry into the air above the stage and regaling me with stories.

He loved the portrait I painted of him so much he bought it.

It’s so nice to know his wife has that now.

I remember he wasn’t wearing his own glasses, but the glasses worn by Hector in The History Boys.

I last saw him last summer when I was Artist in Residence on Richard Curtis‘ forthcoming film About Time, where he worked in a scene alongside Richard E Grant.

It was the first time they had worked together since Withnail, which was an honour to witness.

One of my sketches was ‘The Three Richards at the Old Vic (where the scene was being filmed), which was of him, Richard E and Richard Curtis.

He was indeed a remarkable man, a prodigious talent and a huge personality.

I will miss his presence in the firmament hugely.

Ralph Graham, Witham, Essex

I had the good fortune to be a professional adviser to the Alan Bennett film “A Private Function” in which Richard Griffiths played one of the leading parts.

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He had all sorts of stories – of working with theatre greats like Olivier and of all the things that go wrong.”

Ralph Graham

I am a podiatrist and the Michael Palin character was a chiropodist so they asked me to advise.

As a complete novice to filming, I was included by Richard and the other leading cast members in the breaks, the chatting, and the exchange of wonderful theatre stories.

There was a lot of sitting around waiting while lights where moved and sets were changed and Richard Girffiths and Denholm Elliot took turns bringing in wine.

The filming was in a house in Ealing so I would be sitting in the garden with them, listening to their fabulous stories.

He had all sorts of stories – of working with theatre greats like Olivier and of all the things that go wrong.

There is a line in the film where Richard Griffiths’ on-screen ‘daughter’ is practicing the piano in another room and making a racket where he says “not now, Veronica” and that line has become a family line for us.

None of our children are called Veronica, but we always say it when we want them to stop doing something.

He was most charming man and a great actor.

Hester Doherty, Shrewsbury

Sketch of Richard Griffiths, Richard E Grant and director Richard CurtisRichard Griffiths, Richard E Grant and Richard Curtis sketched on the set of the film About Time

I was at Billingham Technical College with Richard in 1966 – 67.

He was doing a Drama course there and took part in the college production of Electra.

He was a riveting performer, even at that young age it was clear he’d got it.

He looked very much the same then as he did all his life, he never really changed he just got greyer.

He was always rather eccentric and good fun to be with, a larger than life character.

I noticed he wore his maroon and yellow Billingham Technical College scarf in Pie in the Sky, so he must have kept memories of it.

His career was amazing.

I remember he came from an ordinary working class background and both his parents were profoundly deaf, so I always thought he’d done tremendously well.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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