British character actor Richard Griffiths came from radio and the classical stage where he built up an early reputation as a Shakespearean clown, with larger-than-life portrayals of Henry VIII, Falstaff in "The Merry Wives of Windsor" and Bottom in "A Midsummer Night's Dream" with the Royal Shakespeare Company just a few of his standout credits. The son of deaf mute parents, he learned sign language at an early age and, interestingly enough, developed a talent for dialects which allowed him to show off in a number of ethnic portrayals. In films from 1975 both in England and abroad, his roles have been in both contemporary and period pieces, including the films Gorky Park (1983), Withnail and I (1987), King Ralph (1991), Guarding Tess (1994), Sleepy Hollow (1999), and recently he has been in the Harry Potter movie series (2001, 2002, 2004, 2007) as Uncle Vernon Dursley. Typically cast as comic relief in serious fare, he is well known in England for a number of comedy series including Pie in the Sky (1993) and the short-lived series tlc (2002).
He was considered by producers for the role of The Doctor in Doctor Who, had the series' original run continued past 1989.