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Overview for Richard Briers
Richard Briers

Richard Briers


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Also Known As: Died: February 17, 2013
Born: January 14, 1934 Cause of Death: Emphysema
Birth Place: Surrey, England, GB Profession: Cast ... actor comedian clerk


This British character actor has had a long career in TV, but has enjoyed a late-career renaissance thanks to director-actor Kenneth Branagh, who has cast him in six features and one short since "Henry V" in 1989. Trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, Briers made his London debut in 1959 in "Gilt and Gingerbread." For the next 30 years, he alternated his TV and film work with such plays as "Present Laughter" (1965), "The Real Inspector Hound" (1968), "Butley" (1972), "Run for Your Wife" (1983), "Twelfth Night" (1987-88) and "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (as Bottom, 1990).

But it was as a TV comic that Briers won his greatest fame in England, appearing in the popular shows "The Good Life" (BBC, 1975, shown in the US as "Good Neighbors"), "Ever Decreasing Circles" (BBC-1, 1989), Rowan Atkinson's "Mr. Bean" (ITV, 1990) and "Marriage Lines." He also appeared in the playwright Alan Ayckbourn's "The Norman Conquests" (PBS, 1978) and "Just Between Ourselves."

Briers' big screen career began with the British features "Bottoms Up" (1960), "Murder She Said" (1961), "The Girl on the Boat" and "A Matter of Who" (both 1962) and the multi-national "The VIPs" (1963). He appeared in Raquel Welch's spy spoof "Fathom" (1967), the comedy "All the Way Up" (1970) and did a voice-over for the animated "Watership Down" (1978). But he was largely unknown in the US until he began appearing in Kenneth Branagh's films.

Briers met Branagh when Briers joined the Renaissance Theatre Company and began taking on more classical roles, including King Lear and Uncle Vanya. On film, Branagh cast the actor--who still thought of himself as a sitcom clown--as Bardolph in "Henry V" (1989), Stephen Fry's father in the comedy "Peter's Friends" (1992), Don Leonato in "Much Ado About Nothing" (1993), the blind grandfather in the controversial "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein" (1994) and as a cranky old trouper in "A Midwinter's Tale" (1996). Sticking with Branagh, Briers next filmed the role of Polonius in "Hamlet" (1996).

Briers, who is married to actress Ann Davies, has done some recent work sans Branagh, including the comedy "A Chorus of Disapproval" (1989), the harrowing period drama "Skallagrigg" (1994) and the P G Wodehouse comedy "Heavy Weather" (PBS, 1996), with Peter O'Toole and Judy Parfitt.

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