British actor Paul Ritter, seen in Harry Potter series and ‘Chernobyl,’ dies

Paul Ritter, left, and Robert Emms in the HBO miniseries "Chernobyl."

Versatile British actor Paul Ritter, who appeared in the Harry Potter franchise and played a key figure behind the nuclear disaster in “Chernobyl,” has died, his agent said Tuesday. He was 54 and had been suffering from a brain tumor.

A familiar face to British television viewers and theater goers, Ritter played Martin Goodman, the eccentric father of a London Jewish family, in the sitcom “Friday Night Dinner.”

He also played the ill-fated nuclear engineer Anatoly Dyatlov in the HBO drama “Chernobyl;” the wizard Eldred Worple in “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” and a devious political operative in the James Bond film “Quantum of Solace.”


Ritter was a frequent cast member in productions at Britain’s National Theatre, including “All My Sons,” “Coram Boy” and “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.” He also appeared in “Art” at London’s Old Vic and on a West End stage as Prime Minister John Major, performing opposite Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II in the royal drama “The Audience.”

The actor was nominated for a Tony Award in 2009 for his performance in Alan Ayckbourn’s farce “The Norman Conquests” on Broadway.

Actor Russell Tovey said Ritter was “one of the nicest and best actors you’ll ever meet.”

Actor-comedian Rob Delaney tweeted that Ritter had “knocked it out of the PARK in Chernobyl. Watching it I consciously thought, ‘Oh, we have a new movie star.’ Between that & how funny he was in Friday Night Dinner... just unreal talent.”

The talent agency Markham, Froggatt & Irwin said Ritter died Monday night “peacefully at home with his wife Polly and sons Frank and Noah by his side.”


“Paul was an exceptionally talented actor playing an enormous variety of roles on stage and screen with extraordinary skill,” the agency said. “He was fiercely intelligent, kind and very funny. We will miss him greatly.”