Remembering Robbie Coltrane

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Robbie Coltrane, best known for his role as the beloved Rubeus Hagrid in the “Harry Potter” films, died on Oct. 14 at the age of 72. According to a number of reports, Coltrane died of multiple organ failure. He was also suffering from sepsis, lower respiratory infection and heart block at the time of his death.

Coltrane passed in the Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert, Scotland. Belinda Wright, Coltrane’s agent of 40 years, thanked the hospital staff for their “care and diplomacy” in a statement.

A Career to Watch

Before becoming an icon of childhoods across the globe as Hagrid, Coltrane made a name for himself as a comedic actor. He made his television debut in 1980 in the BBC’s mini-series “The Lost Tribe,” shortly followed by his big-screen debut in “Death Watch.” Classifiable as bit roles, these parts were the first in what would prove to be a long, impactful career for Coltrane.

His appearance in the “Comic Strip” films transformed Coltrane from a small, comedic actor, to a well-known face. Peter Richardson, a “leading creative force behind the Comic Strip films,” commended Coltrane for his talent and character. “Everthing was big about Robbie. He was so funny, but he could do everything,” he told the Guardian.

While the “Comic Strip” films put Coltrane’s name on the radar, the 1993 award-winning television series, “Cracker,” cemented Coltrane as a respected actor in the UK. In it, he played Fitz, a forensic psychologist with a knack for solving crime. Coltrane received much accolade for his role in the thriller, winning three consecutive BAFTA Television Awards for best actor — a record that he shares to this day.

Photo posted by @theguardian on Pinterest

“Robbie was an amazingly intriguing character, but occasionally oxymoronic too. He was deeply intelligent and deeply troubled. And he was courageous enough to bring it all to the screen,” Gub Neal, producer of “Cracker,” tells The Guardian.

During Coltrane’s four-decade-long career in the film and television industry, he displayed a seemingly endless amount of versatility and acting ability. From an anti-social crime solver in “Cracker” to an “ex-KGB-member-turned-Russian-gangster” in two “James Bond” films. A comedic relief in “Nuns on the Run” to loveable Hogwarts groundskeeper in the “Harry Potter” franchise — Coltrane did it all.

“He really was a polymath. Just look at the span of his appeal, filling the role of Hagrid in the ‘Harry Potter’ films too. My heart is welling up. I loved the man,” says Neal.

A Role for the Ages

In Nov. 2001, Coltrane brought a beloved character to life for millions across the globe with the release of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” Hagrid the half-giant’s shoes were a big pair to fill — literally and metaphorically — but Coltrane seemingly did it with ease.

Photo posted by @harrypotterfilm on Instagram

Grossing over $1 billion worldwide, the “Harry Potter” franchise launched with force. From the first “Yer a wizard Harry,” Coltrane had the world under Hagrid’s spell.

According to Wright, Coltrane received “a stream of fan letters every week for over 20 years” thanks to his portrayal of Hagrid.

Protective of his privacy, commonly gruff with reporters and difficult to score an interview with, Coltrane dropped his tough exterior with young “Harry Potter” fans. “Kids come up to you and they go: ‘Would you like to sign my book?’ with those big doe-eyes. And it’s a serious responsibility,” Coltrane told The Guardian in 2012.

“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,” Coltrane reflected in “Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts.”

A Life Remembered

To the actors that grew up on the “Harry Potter” set, Coltrane was a source of joy in their childhoods

Photo posted by @hogwartsinside on Instagram

Daniel Radcliffe, Harry Potter himself, describes Coltrane as “one of the funniest people I’ve met. [He] used to keep us laughing constantly as kids on set,” he says in a statement shared with Deadline. “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,” says Radcliffe.

Emma Watson, who played the ever-brilliant Hermione Granger, remembered Coltrane on her Instagram story. “Robbie was like the most fun uncle I’ve ever had, but most of all, he was deeply caring and compassionate towards me as a child and an adult,” she wrote. “His talent was so immense that it made sense he played a giant — he could fill ANY space with his brilliance.”

Rupert Grint, who played the loveable Ron Weasley, reminisced in an Instagram post. “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,” he wrote.

Photo posted by @harrypotterfilm on Instagram

Coltrane is survived by his children, Spencer and Alice, as well as his sister, Annie Rae.

Hagrid filled the hearts of millions around the globe with his dry humor and unending acceptance. Coltrane provided no less to those he knew in the real world.


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