Richard Griffiths, OBE (born 31 July 1947) is an English actor of stage, film and television. He has received the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor, the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actor in a Play, the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play, and the Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play, all for his role in the play The History Boys. He is also known for his portrayal of Vernon Dursley in the Harry Potter films, Uncle Monty in Withnail and I and Henry Crabbe in Pie in the Sky.
Griffiths was born in a house in Westbury Street in Thornaby-on-Tees, Stockton, England to a steelworker father and a bagger mother. He had a Catholic upbringing. The son of deaf parents, he learned sign language at an early age in order to communicate with them. He even developed an ear for dialects that subsequently landed him several ethnic roles. In his childhood he attempted to run away from home many times. He dropped out of Our Lady & St Bede school at age 15 and worked as a porter for a while, but his boss eventually convinced him to go back to school. Here he decided to attend a drama class at Stockton & Billingham College. He continued his education in drama at Manchester Polytechnic School of Drama (which is now known as the Manchester School of Theatre).
After graduating, Griffiths earned a spot on BBC Radio. He also worked in small theatres, sometimes acting and sometimes managing. He built up an early reputation as a Shakespearean clown with portrayals of the Constable in The Comedy of Errors and Falstaff in The Merry Wives of Windsor with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and went on to play the King in Henry VIII.