Robbie Coltrane, the beloved comic actor who starred as Rubeus Hagrid in the Harry Potter film franchise, is dead at the age of 72, his agent confirmed to Deadline. Coltrane had been in poor health for about two years, and died in a hospital near his Larbert, Scotland home.
Coltrane featured prominently in all eight films in the Harry Potter series, serving as a bumbling but lovable father figure to the young orphan Harry. He also stole scenes in the James Bond films GoldenEye (1995) and The World Is Not Enough (1999) as Russian gangster Valentin Zukovsky, and won three consecutive BAFTA Awards for best actor in the ITV crime series Cracker. Michael Gambon is the only other actor to achieve that distinction.
Coltrane appeared in the anniversary special Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts, which dropped on New Year’s Day this year, at a time when his health was already failing. In one of the most talked-about clips, he said, “The legacy of the movies is that my children’s generation will show them to their children, so you could be watching in 50 years time, easy. I’ll not be here, sadly. But Hagrid will.”
He was born Anthony Robert McMillan on March 30th, 1950, and adopted the stage name Coltrane as a tribute to his favorite musician, John Coltrane. In the 1970s he earned a reputation on the stages of London as a rising sketch comedy star, and he broke into film with a small part in 1980’s Flash Gordon.
By the end of that decade he was a bona fide star, appearing in Blackadder the Third, releasing the sketch and stand-up show The Robbie Coltrane Special, and appearing as perhaps Shakespeare’s funniest character, Falstaff, in Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V. In 1990 he starred opposite Eric Idle in Nuns on the Run, and in 1991 he played the Pope in The Pope Must Die, for which he won the Evening Standard British Film Award – Peter Sellers Award for Comedy.
From 1993 to 1995 he played Dr Edward “Fitz” Fitzgerald on Cracker, which earned him three BAFTA Awards, and in the second half of that decade he turned in some of the most memorable performances in the James Bond franchise. He was already fairly famous, and his trophy room well stocked, by the time Harry Potter came calling.
From 2001 to 2011 he played Rubeus Hagrid, keeper of keys and grounds at Hogwarts. His humor and pathos held the early films together while the young stars were still figuring out their craft, and the scene in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II where he carried what he thought was Harry’s lifeless body rates among the best acting in the series.
Coltrane also lent his voice to animated films such as The Tale of Despereaux and Brave, and in 2006 was awarded the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II. His final on-screen role came as Orson Welles in the Sky UK series, Urban Myths.
His passing was mourned around the world of entertainment. Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling wrote, “I’ll never know anyone remotely like Robbie again. He was an incredible talent, a complete one off, and I was beyond fortunate to know him, work with him and laugh my head off with him. I send my love and deepest condolences to his family, above all his children.”
Stephen Fry said, “I first met Robbie Coltrane almost exactly 40 years ago. I was awe/terror/love struck all at the same time. Such depth, power & talent: funny enough to cause helpless hiccups & honking as we made our first TV show, “Alfresco”. Farewell, old fellow. You’ll be so dreadfully missed.”
James Phelps, who played Fred Weasley in Harry Potter, added, “I will miss the random chats about all subjects under the sun. And I’ll never forget in September 2000, Robbie Coltrane came over to a very nervous 14yr old me on my 1st ever day on a movie set and said ‘Enjoy it, you’ll be great.’ Thank you for that.”
Daniel Radcliffe, Harry Potter himself, said in a statement (via Variety), “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.”
I'll never know anyone remotely like Robbie again. He was an incredible talent, a complete one off, and I was beyond fortunate to know him, work with him and laugh my head off with him. I send my love and deepest condolences to his family, above all his children. pic.twitter.com/tzpln8hD9z
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) October 14, 2022
I first met Robbie Coltrane almost exactly 40 years ago. I was awe/terror/love struck all at the same time. Such depth, power & talent: funny enough to cause helpless hiccups & honking as we made our first TV show, “Alfresco”. Farewell, old fellow. You’ll be so dreadfully missed
— Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) October 14, 2022
I will miss the random chats about all subjects under the sun.And I'll never forget in September 2000, Robbie Coltrane came over to a very nervous 14yr old me on my 1st ever day on a movie set and said "Enjoy it, you'll be great". Thank you for that x
— James Phelps (@James_Phelps) October 14, 2022