Richard Griffiths: With talent like that, he didn’t need the fish

It IS difficult to imagine a less likely movie star than Richard Griffiths. He wasn’t portly – he was fat, very fat. And by no stretch of the imagination was he handsome. He hated his looks and disliked being photographed. Or so he said. Yet he chose acting as a career.

He was also famously irascible. As well as bringing stage productions to a halt when mobile phones went off, he also wished he had a big, wet salmon with which to slap younger, better-looking actors.

But he was considered great company, a raconteur and an actor for whom one suspects the performance did not necessarily end when the cameras stopped rolling.

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He made his weight and looks work for him. Some might not recognise the name, but everyone would know the face. There were objections to news items about his death describing him as “Harry Potter actor Richard Griffiths”. But he played the nasty Uncle Vernon in five films, and they took him to his widest audience, comparatively late in life.

There were lead roles on television, both comedy and drama, and a decade or so with the Royal Shakespeare Company. He could be jolly and he could be sleazy, but he could also be the decent Everyman.

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Few actors have enjoyed so much commercial, critical and cult success, both on screen and on stage. Ultimately, his career was the fish with which he repeatedly slapped the faces of younger, better-looking actors.