From Hagrid in Harry Potter to Fitz in Cracker: Robbie Coltrane’s career as actor dies aged 72
Posted by  badge Boss on Oct 14
Robbie Coltrane was celebrated for his illustrious career (Picture: 20th Century Fox/Warner Bros Pictures)

He may have been best known to a generation of children as Hagrid in the franchise, but the late had a career that also saw him appear in two Bond films and the acclaimed crime drama series Cracker.

The Scottish actor, comedian and writer from around the world from people including , Stephen Fry and .

Born Anthony Robert McMillan in 1950 in Rutherglen, Scotland, Coltrane’s stage name was adopted in his early twenties when he started acting, and was chosen in tribute to the jazz saxophonist John Coltrane.

Appearing in numerous productions and projects on stage and screen, his early credits included roles in The Comic Strip Presents…, Flash Gordon, Nuns on the Run and Absolute Beginners.

But it was playing forensic psychologist Dr. Edward ‘Fitz’ Fitzgerald in the ITV series Cracker between 1993 and 1995 and then in the subsequent specials, the most recent of which aired in 2006, that made him a household name.

The actor starred as Dr. Edward ‘Fitz’ Fitzgerald in Cracker for 13 years (Picture: Allstar Picture Library/Granada)

The drama also saw him pick up three Bafta awards for his portrayal of the genius anti-hero.

In 1995, Coltrane played Bond villain Valentin Zukovsky, a Russian gangster and ex-KGB officer, in GoldenEye opposite Pierce Brosnan’s 007, a role he later reprised in 1999’s The World Is Not Enough.

However, Coltrane will perhaps always be best known as the frazzled, yet loyal and loveable Rubeus Hagrid in the Harry Potter film franchise, which began with 2001’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.

It was a role he would go on to play for the following 10 years and eight films.

Valentin Zukovsky was featured in two Bond films (Picture: Keith Hamshere/Danjaq/Eon/Ua/Kobal/Shutterstock)

A half-giant and half-human who was the gamekeeper and Keeper of Keys and Grounds of Hogwarts, Hagrid might have been a bit bumbling at times, but his fierce protection of Harry, Ron and Hermione endeared him with audiences, who also embraced his at-times touching one liners.

Of course, who can forget the iconic line, ‘You’re a wizard Harry’, which sets the films in motion.  

As Harry himself put it in the closing scenes of The Chamber of Secrets, there wasn’t a Hogwarts without Hagrid.

The actor played one of the most beloved characters in the Harry Potter franchise (Picture: Warner Bros)

In 2006, Coltrane’s huge impact on the world of entertainment was further cemented when he was voted in at number 11 in TV’s list of the 50 Greatest Stars, which was compiled by ITV.

The same year he was appointed an OBE in the  by  for his services to drama. 

In the years since the films finished, Coltrane had a handful of other small roles in film and television, including as Lord Dingwall in 2012’s Brave; Mr Jaggers in Great Expectations; and a turn as Orson Welles in an episode of Urban Myths.

Radcliffe has shared fond memories of Coltrane following his death (Picture: Evan Agostini/ImageDirect)

However, he dropped out of the spotlight for a time while suffering from osteoarthritis in 2016.

At the time, he was told by doctors that he must lose weight or risk facing life with serious mobility issues, with the actor later saying that he was ‘in constant pain all day’.

In 1999, Coltrane married sculptor Rhona Gemmell and the couple had two children: a son named Spencer and a daughter called Alice. The couple later divorced in 2003. 

In 2020, Coltrane told Radio Times that he had a ‘steady girlfriend’ of 12 years, but he never revealed any more details about their relationship.

Robbie Coltrane at The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando in 2014 (Picture: Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images)

During HBO Max’s Harry Potter: Return to Hogwarts reunion earlier this year, which saw most of the cast reunite, Coltrane reflected on the legacy of the films.

‘It’s the end of an era. Ten years of my life. My children have grown up during it,’ he said, looking visibly emotional.

‘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 year’s time, easily… I’ll not be here, sadly… but Hagrid will, yes.’