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Richard Griffiths, dead at 65, leaves theatrical legacy

Arts and CultureFictionRichard Griffiths

The larger world may have discovered Richard Griffiths through the Harry Potter movies, but the theater world has long claimed him as one of its best.

The actor died Thursday at age 65.

Griffiths' most famous role on stage was that of Hector, the unorthodox history teacher in Alan Bennett's "The History Boys." After a successful run in London (he won an Olivier Award for his performance), the play came to Broadway in 2006 and won six Tony awards, including best play and best actor for Griffiths.

The Times Theater Critic Charles McNulty wrote about Griffiths shortly before the Tony award ceremony that year.

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"Griffiths shares Hector's poetics of heartbreak, which is just one reason the role of the lonely, beleaguered pedagogue seems tailor-made for him," McNulty said.

He later appered on Broadway in "Equus" in 2008 with Daniel Radcliffe of the Harry Potter movies in the latter's New York stage debut, and Radcliffe commented about Griffiths' help and friendship in two of the most important events of his life: his first Harry Potter film, and performing "Equus" on Broadway.

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"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," he said. "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. I am proud to say I knew him. "He and Danny DeVito performed in a revival production of "The Sunshine Boys" in summer 2012 in London. That production is to come to the Ahmanson Theatre in September.

Check back with Culture Monster for more on Richard Griffiths, "The Sunshine Boys," and the actor's career on the stage.

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