Robbie Coltrane Dies, Aged 72

Robbie Coltrane

by James White |
Updated on

Robbie Coltrane, the comedian and actor who was perhaps best known to the world as Rubeus Hagrid in the Harry Potter films, has died. He was 72.

Originally planning to become an artist, the young Coltrane pivoted to stand-up comedy in Edinburgh clubs when that aspiration didn't work out.

He headed to London to explore acting opportunities, changing his name from Anthony Robert McMillan to Robbie Coltrane in honour of jazz great John Coltrane.

Coltrane came up through some traditional routes, including Play For Today and guest roles on shows including Minder.

His comedic talents were immediately obvious, and he'd go on to be a key part of shows including Tutti Frutti A Kick Up The Eighties, The Comic Strip Presents and Alfresco.

Yet Coltrane was also a superb dramatic actor, especially in Jimmy McGovern's Cracker as the smart (and smart-mouthed) psychologist Dr. Edward "Fitz" Fitzgerald, who helped the police solve murders.

In more recent years, he won acclaim for performances in the likes of National Treasure and Strike.

Film-wise, he paid his dues with smaller roles in movies such as Flash Gordon and Krull and starred in the likes of Nuns On The Run.

Cracker opened even more doors, and he scored the role of Russian mobster Valentin Zukovsky in two Pierce Brosnan Bond movies, GoldenEye and The World Is Not Enough.

Cast as Hagrid in Harry Potter And The Philosopher's Stone, Coltrane quickly became a fan favourite, and a cherished part of the entire film run.

Having been ill for the last couple of years, Coltrane died at a hospital near his home in Larbert, Scotland. He’s survived by two children and a legion of fans.

Potter star Daniel Radcliffe paid tribute in a statement: “Robbie was one of the funniest people I’ve met and used to keep us laughing constantly as kids on the set. 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. 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.”

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