Remembering Robbie Coltrane

He will always be remembered as Harry Potter’s Hagrid

Remembering Robbie Coltrane

The actor Robbie Coltrane, who has died aged 72, was regularly described as a big man of the British screen

Born Anthony McMillan on 30 March 1950 in Rutherglen, Scotland he changed his name, on becoming an actor, in honour of the great jazz saxophonist John Coltrane. He first came to British TV viewers’ attention in a string of 1980s sketch shows, including A Kick Up the 80s and Laugh? I Nearly Paid My Licence Fee, working alongside Emma Thompson, Hugh Laurie, Ben Elton, Stephen Fry and Rik Mayall. In the late 1980s, nearing 40, he met Rhona Gemmell. They had a son and daughter and married in 1999, but split up four years later.
In 2001, though, Coltrane’s celebrity status went global when he was cast as Hagrid, the half-giant gamekeeper of Hogwarts school of witchcraft and wizardry in the first film adaptation of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter novels, reportedly at Rowling’s insistence.
When, in 2009, Coltrane hung up Hagrid’s beard for the last time, after filming Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2, the eighth and final adaptation from Rowling’s books, it was with regret. He went on to star in David Pirie’s well-received cop drama Murderland (2009) and in the last episodes of the US sitcom Frasier.
Coltrane also starred on films such as Ocean’s Twelve, From Hell and his last role in film was in the 2014 movie Effie Gray. The actor suffered from osteoarthritis in later life. He said he was in “constant pain all day” in 2016, and from 2019 on he employed a wheelchair. He died at the age of 72 at Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert on 14 October 2022, after having been in ill health for two years. RIP

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