Robbie Coltrane, who played the lovable half-giant Rubeus Hagrid in the “Harry Potter” franchise, has died, his agency WME confirmed to Variety on Friday. He was 72.
Coltrane featured in every “Harry Potter” movie, from “Sorcerer’s Stone” in 2001 to “Death Hallows -Part 2” in 2011, and was much beloved for bringing the character from J.K. Rowling’s book series to life. He was among the first characters to appear on screen, and he recited the famous line, “Yer, a wizard, Harry,” to a young Daniel Radcliffe as he embarked on his journey into the wizarding world. A towering figure but a softie at heart, Hagrid had a sweet spot for ferocious beasts and cared for some of the “Harry Potter” world’s most vicious and iconic creatures. Radcliffe paid tribute to his time spent with Coltrane on the “Potter” set. “I’ve especially fond memories of him keeping our spirits up on ‘Prisoner of Azkaban,'” Radcliffe said. “When we were hiding from the torrential rain for hours in Hagrid’s hut, he was telling stories and cracking jokes to keep morale up.”
The Scottish actor, comedian, and writer also appeared in two James Bond films, 1995’s “GoldenEye” and 1999’s “The World Is Not Enough,” as the Russian mafia man Valentin Domitrovich Zukovsky.
One of his first significant appearances was on the British sketch comedy series “Alfresco” in 1983. He co-starred with other soon-to-be greats like Hugh Laurie, Emma Thompson, and Stephen Fry. A few years later, he reunited with Thompson on the 1987 BBC Scotland drama “Tutti Frutti” and earned his first best actor nomination from the British Academy Television Awards. From 1993-1995, he starred in the ITV crime drama “Cracker” as criminal psychologist Dr. Edward “Fitz” Fitzgerald, winning three British Academy Television awards. After hanging up Hagrid’s moleskin coat, Coltrane starred in the acclaimed Channel 4 drama “National Treasure,” playing a retired comedian who becomes accused of sexual assault. He won a handful of best actor awards from British organizations for the role.
His long-time agent, Belinda Wright, reminisced about their work together. “He will probably be best remembered for decades to come as Hagrid in the ‘Harry Potter films, a role which brought joy to children and adults alike all over the world, prompting a stream of fan letters every week for over 20 years,” Wright wrote via email to Variety. ” I shall remember him as an abidingly loyal client. As well as being a wonderful actor, he was forensically intelligent, brilliantly witty, and after 40 years of being proud to be called his agent, I shall miss him.”
Coltrane is survived by his sister Annie Rae, his children, Spencer and Alice, and their mother, Rhona Gemmell. The family expressed gratitude to the medical staff at Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert for their care and diplomacy.
The actor’s final appearance with his Harry Potter family was on the “Return to Hogwarts” 20th anniversary unique released on HBO Max in January 2022. His thoughts on the series’ power also served as an emotional farewell to fans.
Casey Patterson, director and executive producer of the much-watched reunion, recalled, “Robbie was ailing when we were filming, aware of his mortality and fiercely determined to have that final, full circle experience with his beloved cast. He spent days back on the original sets in conversation with them; we could feel him taking in the great hall, the war stories, and the passage of time. He was hilarious but equally raw and vulnerable; he looked straight down the barrel of the lens and, in that knowing Hagrid way, shared with us that he knew he was near the end and how proud he was of the legacy he would leave behind.”
An emotional Coltrane said in the special 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, easy. Sadly, I’ll not be here, but Hagrid will.”