Robbie Coltrane, the veteran character actor best known to audiences around the world as Hagrid in the Harry Potter films, has died. He was 72.
Coltraine's agent, Belinda Wright, confirmed his passing, calling the actor a "unique talent" and calling his portrayal of Hagrid "a role which brought joy to children and adults alike all over the world, prompting a stream of fan letters every week for over 20 years."
Born on March 30, 1950, in Glasgow, Scotland, Anthony Robert McMillan began his career as a stand-up comedian, assuming the last name Coltrane to honor legendary jazz musician John Coltrane. His first credited acting role was in 1980's Flash Gordon, and following a number of small roles in various British TV series, he broke out as forensic psychologist Dr. Edward "Fitz" Fitzgerald in Cracker, which ran for 25 episodes between 1993 and 2006. The actor received three BAFTA TV Awards for his performance.
In 2001, Coltrane appeared in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone as Rubeus Hagrid, the kindly Hogwarts gamekeeper who befriends Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) and his friends. Coltrane was reportedly handpicked by J.K. Rowling for the role. He would go on to appear in all eight films.
Radcliffe issued a heartfelt statement following the news of Coltrane's death. "Robbie was one of the funniest people I’ve met and used to keep us laughing constantly as kids on the set," his statement reads.
"I've especially fond memories of him keeping our spirits up on Prisoner of Azkaban, when we were all hiding from the torrential rain for hours in Hagrid's hut and he was telling stories and cracking jokes to keep morale up," Radcliffe remembered. "I feel incredibly lucky that I got to meet and work with him and very sad that he's passed. He was an incredible actor and a lovely man."
Emma Watson, who played Hermione in the Harry Potter movie, shared her own tribute on social media.
"Robbie was like the most fun uncle I've ever had," she wrote. "But most of all, he was deeply caring and compassionate towards me as a child and an adult. His talent was so immense that it made sense he played a giant — he could fill ANY space with his brilliance."
"Robbie, if I ever get to be so kind as you were to me on a film set I promise I'll do it in your name and memory," Watson continued. "Know how much I adore and admire you. I'll really miss your sweetness, your nicknames, your warmth, your laughs, and your hugs. You made us a family. Know you were that to us. There was no better Hagrid. You made it a joy to be Hermione."
Rupert Grint, who co-starred as Ron Weasley, posted in remembrance on Instagram, writing, "I'll never forget the smell of cigars and beard glue — a wonderful combination."
"No one else on this planet could of played Hagrid, only Robbie," Grint captioned a photo of Coltrane. "Just as Hagrid was in the books and films Robbie was in life — warm, compassionate and hilarious. A giant hearted man who was still looking out for us even decades later. Sending love to his family. See you on the other side Bobser."
Beyond the Harry Potter franchise, Coltrane appeared in two James Bond movies in the '90s, Goldeneye and the World Is Not Enough, in which he played Valentin Dmitrovich Zukovsky opposite Pierce Brosnan's Bond. In Disney and Pixar's Brave (2012), he went against type and lent his voice to the short but scrappy Lord Dingwall.
In 2006, Coltrane was made an OBE (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to drama.
But it is his tenure as Hagrid that will define his legacy, something Coltrane well knew. In HBO Max's Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts, the actor said, "The legacy of the movies is that my children’s generation will show them to their children, so you could be watching it in 50 years time. Easy. I’ll not be here, sadly. But Hagrid will."
Coltrane is survived by his two children Spencer and Alice, their mother Rhona Gemmell, and a sister.
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