In Memoriam: Paul Ritter (1966-2021)

by Patrick T Fuller on April 15, 2021

Arts & Entertainment

Legendary Film, Television, Theatre Actor Passes Away at 54  

by Grace O’Connor ’22 A&E Staff


Paul Ritter, a Tony-nominated actor in theatre, passed away from a brain tumor on April 5 at 54 years old. Ritter’s agent stated in Mirror, “It is with great sadness we can confirm that Paul Ritter passed away last night. He died peacefully at home with his wife Polly and sons Frank and Noah by his side. He was 54 and had been suffering from a brain tumour.” 

Ritter is most well known for his appearance in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Friday Night Dinner. In Friday Night Dinner, Ritter played the shirtless husband and father of two sons, Martin Goodman. Ritter was known for being private, as he kept his personal and professional lives separate. Ritter was also described as having a unique personality and a great sense of humor. Isabel Riggs recalled in USA Today, “Paul was an exceptionally talented actor playing an enormous variety of roles on stage and screen with extraordinary skill,” a statement added. “He was fiercely intelligent, kind and very funny. We will miss him greatly.” 


Creator of Friday Night Dinner, Robert Popper, remembers Ritter as “a lovely, wonderful human being. Kind, funny, super caring and the greatest actor I ever worked with.” Ritter’s talent was no secret, as he won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Ensemble Performance (2009), New York Drama Critics Circle Special Citation (2009), and Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Ensemble (2009). 

In Harry Potter, Ritter played Eldred Worple. He also was a “devious political operative” in the James Bond film Quantum of Solace (2008) and ill-fated nuclear engineer Anatoly Dyatlov in the HBO miniseries Chernobyl (2019). Although his role was small in well-known American films, he was more well known for appearing in British productions. Ritter worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company, performing at London’s National Theatre. 

Ritter also acted in British productions including All My Sons, The Curious Incident of The Dog in the Night Time, and The Audience. He was nominated for a Tony Award in 2009 for his notable performance in The Norman Conquests. This was a British production written by Alan Ayckbourn in 1973. After this production, Ritter took his role in Friday Night Dinner, spanning from 2011 to 2020. This show highlighted his versatile ability to play in different roles throughout his acting career. Ritter’s memory will live on for his talent and contribution to the film industry. He will be missed by many who have watched him grow throughout his career.