Friday, April 5, 2013

So, Farewell Then, Vernon Dursley

Richard Griffiths as Uncle Vernon. Copyright Warner Bros
Richard Griffiths, famous to my generation as the queeny upper-class Uncle Monty from Withnail and I (but much better known today as the muggle Uncle Vernon from the Harry Potter series), died last week.

Uncle Vernon, mean-spirited guardian of his unfortunate nephew Harry Potter, was a wonderful creation, a perfect satire on all that is worst about suburban England; acute class snobbery and an obsession with keeping up meaningless appearances.

The Harry Potter series has a special place in my heart and I feel personally grateful to all the actors who made the books come alive so memorably. Harry Potter made the London VFX scene what it is today - a  big, bustling, talented (and occasionally even profitable) centre of artistic excellence.

Best of all, working on a Harry Potter film means never having to fear the dreaded question - the one asked regularly of anyone working in the entertainment industry: "so what have you worked on that I have seen?" (to which, of course, the correct answer is "do I look like a psychic?").  Luckily, everyone has heard of Harry Potter. They might not like it - but at least they've heard of it. So I - and thousands of vfx artists like me - can confidently say, "Oh, I worked on Harry Potter... amongst some other stuff". And the gods of popularity have been propitiated.

Daniel Radcliffe is reported to have said of his co-star: "Any room Richard walked into was made twice as funny and twice as clever just by his presence. I am proud to say I knew him".


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