The actor Richard Griffiths has died at the age of 65.

Richard Griffiths as WH Auden in The Habit of Art

Richard Griffiths as WH Auden in The Habit of Art

Star of stage and film, Richard Griffiths died after complications following heart surgery.

His long and accomplished career as an actor on stage, film and TV included Tony and Olivier Award wins for his performance as Hector in Alan Bennett’s The History Boys at the National Theatre, in the West End and on Broadway, and in the 2006 film version.

Recent stage performances included playing WH Auden in Alan Bennett’s The Habit of Art at the National Theatre in 2009 and alongside Danny DeVito in The Sunshine Boys at the Savoy Theatre in 2012.

Griffiths started his stage career at the RSC and went on to play a huge variety of roles, including starring alongside Daniel Radcliffe in Equus in London and on Broadway, playing WH Auden in Alan Bennett’s The Habit of Art at the National Theatre in 2009, and alongside Danny DeVito in The Sunshine Boys at the Savoy Theatre in 2012.

Screen highlights included playing a cooking-loving detective in TV drama Pie in the Sky, and film roles including Vernon Dursley in the Harry Potter films and Uncle Monty in Withnail and I.

Thea Sharrock, who directed Griffiths in Equus, Heroes and The Sunshine Boys, said: “Everybody knew he was my favourite. He was the most tender, gentle, kind, generous, loving man. His curiosity was unending, as was his striving for perfection. I cannot imagine a world without all those stories. I will miss him so very very much.”

Daniel Radcliffe paid tribute to the star saying, “Richard was by my side during two of the most important moments of my career. 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 [at the Gielgud Theatre in London] together. It was my first time doing a play but, terrified as I was, his encouragement, tutelage and humour 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.”

Nicholas Hytner, director of the National Theatre, said that Griffiths “wasn’t only one of the most loved and recognisable British actors – he was also one of the very greatest. H>is performance in The History Boys was quite overwhelming: a masterpiece of wit, delicacy, mischief and desolation, often simultaneously. His anecdotes were legendary. They were, literally, endless. They would go on for hours, apparently without destination, constantly side-splitting.”

His agent Simon Beresford described him as a “remarkable man. On stage he allowed us to share in our own humanity and constantly question our differences. Richard gave acting a good name. He was a remarkable man and one of our greatest and best-loved actors. He will be greatly missed.”

Richard Griffiths was appointed an OBE in the 2008 New Year Honours.