‘Harry Potter’ actor Robbie Coltrane, who played Hagrid, dies at 72


Scottish actor Robbie Coltrane, best known for his role as Rubeus Hagrid in the Harry Potter film franchise, died Friday at 72, according to his agency WME.

After starting out in theater and comedy, Coltrane made the transition to television and film. He played Falstaff in 1989’s “Henry V,” and appeared in the James Bond films “GoldenEye” and “The World Is Not Enough,” released in 1995 and 1999, respectively. His role as a criminal psychologist in the British drama series “Cracker,” which aired for three seasons in the mid-1990s, won him three consecutive BAFTA awards.

Born Anthony Robert McMillan in a town outside Glasgow, Coltrane took on his stage name as a nod to jazz saxophonist John Coltrane. The actor’s agency said he is survived by his sister, two children and their mother.

Coltrane’s role in all eight Harry Potter films as Hagrid, the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry’s half-human, half-giant groundskeeper, won him the affection of the popular fantasy series’ loyal fans. In the reunion special released this year on HBO Max, Coltrane said that “the legacy of the movies is that my children’s generation will show them to their children, so you could be watching it in 50 years’ time, easy. I’ll not be here, sadly. But Hagrid will.”

Daniel Radcliffe, who played Harry Potter, described Coltrane in a statement as “one of the funniest people I’ve met” and looked back on their time together on 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,” Radcliffe wrote of the third film. “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.”

Emma Watson, who played Hermione Granger, one of Harry’s best friends, said in a post on her Instagram Story that Coltrane “was like the most fun uncle I’ve ever had.”

“His talent was so immense it made sense he played a giant — he could fill ANY space with his brilliance,” she continued. “Robbie, if I ever get to be so kind as you were to me on a film set I promise I’ll do it in your name and memory. Know how much I adore and admire you. I’ll really miss your sweetness, your nicknames, your warmth, your laughs and your hugs. You made us a family. Know you were that to us.

“There was no better Hagrid. You made it a joy to be Hermione.”

James and Oliver Phelps, twins who took on the roles of Fred and George Weasley, shared separate memories of working with Coltrane. James recalled Coltrane urging him to enjoy himself on his first day on a movie set in 2000, while Oliver shared a similar story from the first film’s premiere the next year of Coltrane encouraging the younger actors to “soak this in lads, its like a Rolls-Royce for your first car.”

Bonnie Wright, who portrayed the twins’ younger sister, Ginny Weasley, wrote on Instagram that she was “heartbroken” by Coltrane’s death.

“Robbie portrayed Hagrid’s warmth, sense of home and unconditional love for his students and magical creatures so brilliantly,” she added. “Robbie always treated me and my fellow cast mates when we were wee kids like equal professionals on a film set. A type of attitude that instilled confidence and a sense of togetherness.”

Crew members on the “Harry Potter” films remembered bringing the book series to life 20 years after the release of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” (Video: Reuters)

Matthew Lewis, who played Hogwarts student Neville Longbottom, tweeted, “Robbie. Bobser. He called me Space Boy. We shared a love of the final frontier. … A giant, in more ways than one.”

David Thewlis, who appeared in the films as Professor Remus Lupin, opted for a humorous tribute, writing in an Instagram caption that “the richest, mightiest and most mischievous laughter on set was all big Robbie’s fault.”

“You are forever loved, dear man, and will be sorely missed,” Thewlis added, sharing a photo of Coltrane from years ago.

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling shared a photo of herself with Coltrane on Twitter, writing that she would “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,” she added.

The Harry Potter reunion special, which debuted in January, was narrated by British comedian Stephen Fry, who appeared with Coltrane — and other notable actors, such as Hugh Laurie and Emma Thompson — in the 1980s sketch comedy series “Alfresco.” After learning of Coltrane’s death, Fry tweeted that he had been “awe/terror/love struck all at the same time” upon initially meeting Coltrane.

“Such depth, power & talent: funny enough to cause helpless hiccups & honking,” Fry wrote of their time on the show, adding: “Farewell, old fellow. You’ll be so dreadfully missed.”

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon lamented the loss of a “Scottish entertainment legend.”

“Very sad news,” she wrote on Twitter. “He had such range and depth as an actor, from brilliant comedy to hard-edged drama. I think my favourite of all his roles was Fitz in Cracker.”

Richard Coles, an English media personality and Church of England priest, recalled the time he shared a dressing room with Coltrane, who had “the biggest pants I have ever seen, which he wore with tremendous flair. We were friends from then on.” Actor Robert Lindsay, who starred with Coltrane in the 1989 musical film “Bert Rigby, You’re a Fool,” tweeted that he was in “shock” at the death of a friend with whom he “shared a Hollywood journey that will live with me forever.”

The official Twitter account for the Harry Potter films wrote that the team was “hugely saddened to hear of the passing of the magnificent Robbie Coltrane who played Hagrid with such kindness, heart and humour … He was a wonderful actor, a friend to all and he will be deeply missed.”

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