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Paul Ritter, a British actor who played everything from a Soviet engineer who helped trigger the Chernobyl nuclear disaster to a wizard in Harry Potter, has died at the age of 54.

His agent said that he had been diagnosed with a brain tumor.

Ritter played Martin Goodman, the eccentric father of a London Jewish family, in the sitcom Friday Night Dinner, and was a familiar face to British television audiences and theatregoers.

In the Emmy-winning HBO drama Chernobyl, he played ill-fated nuclear engineer Anatoly Dyatlov, the sorcerer Eldred Worple in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and a devious political agent in the James Bond film Quantum of Solace.

Those who worked with Ritter in some of his most well-known roles praised him.

Ritter “was a beautiful, wonderful human being,” according to Robert Popper, producer of Friday Night Dinner. Kind, funny, and extremely compassionate, he is the best actor I have ever worked with.”

Craig Mazin, who wrote the Chernobyl screenplay, described Ritter as “one of the most gentle, generous, and brilliant people I’ve ever met, let alone worked with.”

“We lost him today, and far too soon. I wish his family and loved ones peace and comfort as they mourn the passing of this beautiful man.” 

Ritter was also a convincing stage performer, appearing in several plays at the National Theatre of Great Britain, including All My Sons, Coram Boy, and The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time.

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He also played Prime Minister John Major opposite Helen Mirren’s Queen Elizabeth II in the royal drama The Audience at London’s Old Vic and on a West End stage.

In 2009, he was nominated for a Tony Award for his role on Broadway in Alan Ayckbourn’s farce The Norman Conquests.


“One of the nicest and greatest actors you’ll ever meet,” actor Russell Tovey said of Ritter.

Ritter had “knocked it out of the PARK in Chernobyl,” according to actor-comedian Rob Delaney. ‘Oh, we have a new movie star,’ I said to myself as I watched it. Between that and the fact that he was hilarious in Friday Night Dinner, he has unreal talent.”

Ritter died “peacefully at home with his wife Polly and sons Frank and Noah by his side” on Monday night, according to Markham, Froggatt & Irwin.

“Paul was an exceptionally talented actor playing an enormous variety of roles on stage and screen with extraordinary skill,” the agency said.

“He was fiercely intelligent, kind and very funny. We will miss him greatly.”

Source: ABC World News

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