Teaching Students About Richard Griffiths

Richard Griffiths was a renowned British actor, best known for his roles in movies like “Harry Potter” and “Withnail and I”. Whether Shakespeare or modern theater, Griffiths showcased versatility and left a significant imprint on both the stage and the screen. Educators should include him in their curriculums to inspire students and enhance their knowledge of the craft of acting. This article explores methods to effectively teach students about Richard Griffiths’s life, work, and contributions.

Basic Background Information

Begin by providing essential details about Richard Griffiths’s background:

– Born on July 31, 1947, in Thornaby-on-Tees (UK)

– Attended Manchester Polytechnic School of Drama

– Made his professional stage debut in 1974

– Appeared in numerous plays, television series, and films

– Won several prestigious awards during his career, including Tony Award (2006) for “The History Boys”

– Passed away on March 28, 2013

Highlighting Noteworthy Roles

Some of Richard Griffiths’ most memorable roles can serve as excellent teaching tools. Discuss these iconic portrayals to help students appreciate his range:

1. Uncle Monty in “Withnail & I” (1987) – Griffiths played a hedonistic and eccentric former actor whose larger-than-life personality left a lasting impression.

2. Harry Potter’s Uncle Vernon Dursley – A central character in J.K. Rowling’s beloved series. Students can enjoy analyzing the complexity beneath the grumpy surface of the character.

3. The whimsical TV host Henry Crabbe in the British series “Pie in the Sky” (1994–1997)

4. Hector from Alan Bennett’s play “The History Boys” – as a teacher himself – offers a fitting starting point for discussions on education.

Exploring Personal Anecdotes and Interviews

Interviews and personal accounts from actors who worked with Griffiths can offer students insight into his working style and personality. These stories can help humanize the actor and serve as an inspiration to aspiring performers.

Classroom Activities

In addition to watching documentaries, interviews, or films featuring Richard Griffiths, incorporate engaging classroom activities that enhance the learning experience:

1. Character Analysis

Encourage students to analyze and compare Griffiths’ portrayals of various characters. Discuss his approach to embodying these personalities.

2. Scene Reenactment

Divide students into groups and assign scenes from Griffiths’ filmography for them to perform. This activity lets them appreciate his acting techniques and learn valuable performance skills.

3. Essay Writing

Invite students to compose essays on specific aspects of Richard Griffiths’ career, such as his approach to acting, the themes he gravitated toward, or his influence on British culture.


Integrating Richard Griffiths’ life and work into a comprehensive lesson plan allows students to explore the depth of his artistry and appreciate the impact he had on both British theater and cinema. By engaging in activities that delve into different aspects of his career, students will also gain valuable insights into the art of acting in general, making their study of Richard Griffiths an enriching experience.

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