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Daniel Radcliffe Pays Tribute to ‘Harry Potter’ Star Robbie Coltrane, Dead at 72

The Scottish actor was also known for appearing in ‘90s Bond films "Goldeneye" and "The World is Not Enough."

HARRY POTTER AND THE ORDER OF THE PHOENIX, Robbie Coltrane, 2007. Ph: Murray Close/©Warner Bros./Courtesy Everett Collection

Robbie Coltrane in “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”

©Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection

Robbie Coltrane, the Scottish actor best known for portraying the lovable half-giant Hagrid in the “Harry Potter” film series, died October 14 in Lambert, Scotland, IndieWire has confirmed. He was 72. 

Beginning his career as a theater and comic performer, Coltrane was a three-time BAFTA winner for his ’90s ITV drama series “Cracker.” After playing a memorable supporting role in the Pierce Brosnan Bond films “Goldeneye” and “The World is Not Enough,” he began his most well-remembered role in 2001, when he portrayed Hagrid in the first “Harry Potter” film. Coltrane appeared in all eight films in the series, and his portrayal of Hagrid won acclaim from fans. In 2006, Queen Elizabeth II honored him with an Order of the British Empire for his service to the arts.    

As portrayed in J.K. Rowling’s original book, Hagrid is the half-giant groundskeeper of the magic school Hogwarts and a frequent and constant ally of Harry (played in the films by Daniel Radcliffe). Coltrane embodied the character’s imposing physique and kind nature, and his first appearance in the original film — where he reveals Harry’s magical lineage to him — is one of the most well-remembered and often quoted moments in the entire film series. 

In a statement to Variety following Coltrane’s passing, Radcliffe called the actor “one of the funniest people” he’s met and shared fond memories of working with him as a child actor on the set of “Harry Potter.”

“Robbie was one of the funniest people I’ve met and used to keep us laughing constantly as kids on the set,” Radcliffe’s 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. 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.”

Born Anthony Robert McMillan in 1950, Coltrane grew up in Rutherglen, Scotland, and attended Glasgow School of the Arts and the Moray House College of Education. In 1978 he took the stage name Coltrane as tribute to jazz musician John Coltrane and began his acting career on the stage with the play “The Slab Boys” at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh. 

He served as a writer and performer in various British sketch comedy shows during the ‘80s, including “The Comic Strips Presents,” “Alfresco,” “A Kick Up the Eighties,” and “Laugh??? I Nearly Paid My License Fee.” He also had memorable supporting roles in comedy shows such as “The Young Ones” and “Blackadder the Third.” In 1987 he starred as a lead singer of a rock band in the BBC Scotland series “Tutti Frutti.” The series, which co-starred Emma Thompson, nabbed Coltrane his first BAFTA nomination. In 1993 and 1997, he hosted two television travel specials — “Coltrane in a Cadillac” and “Coltrane’s Planes and Automobiles” — which saw him travel across the United States in a Cadillac and explain the inner workings of various vehicles.  

On film, Coltrane played supporting roles in films such as “Flash Gordon,” “Death Watch,” “Absolute Beginners,” and “Mona Lisa.” In 1989, he played the role of Falstaff in Kenneth Branagh’s film adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Henry V.” He also starred in the 1990 comedy “Nuns on the Run” and in 1991’s “The Pope Must Die,” in which he played the Pope.          

From 1993 to 1996, Coltrane starred in “Cracker” as Dr. Edward Fitzgerald, an alcoholic and foul-mouthed but brilliant criminal psychologist. The show, which was similar in structure to “Colombo” and also featured Christopher Eccleston, ran for three series, with Coltrane winning best actor at the television BAFTAs for each. Coltrane would reprise the role in 2006 for a two-hour special.  

In “Goldeneye” and “The World is Not Enough,” Coltrane appeared as Valentin Dmitrovich Zukovsky, a Russian gangster who serves as an information source and eventual ally for the secret agent.  

In the 2000s, while making most of his appearances in the “Harry Potter” franchise, Coltrane also had supporting roles in films such as “Ocean’s Twelve,” “Stormbreaker,” and “The Brothers Bloom.” In 2012, he voiced a character in the Pixar animated movie “Brave” and appeared in an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “Great Expectations.” He received another BAFTA nomination in 2016 for his leading role in the British drama “National Treasure,” portraying a successful comedian hosting a quiz show who is accused of sexual assault during his early career. His final onscreen appearance was in HBO Max’s 20th anniversary “Harry Potter” celebration “Return to Hogwarts,” which premiered on the streamer in January 2022.  

Coltrane is survived by his two children. 

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