Robbie Coltrane

Robbie Coltrane, actor best known as Hagrid in ‘Harry Potter’ films, dies at 72

October 14, 2022
2 mins read

Robbie Coltrane, the veteran Scottish actor who gained worldwide acclaim as Rubeus Hagrid in the “Harry Potter” film series, died Friday. He was 72.

Coltrane’s agent, Belinda Wright, said in an email that he died at a hospital in Scotland. She did not give a cause of death.

Daniel Radcliffe, left, who played Harry Potter, and Robbie Coltrane, who played Hagrid, arrive for the film's New York premiere on Nov. 11, 2001.

Born Anthony Robert McMillan in Rutherglen, Scotland, Coltrane was in his early 20s when he began pursuing an acting career, and renamed himself in honor of jazz musician John Coltrane. He went on to appear in dozens of films and TV shows, but is perhaps known best to “Harry Potter” fans as Hagrid, the good-natured half-giant groundskeeper of Hogwarts and a mentor to Harry as he navigated the wizarding world. He appeared in all eight “Potter” films, released from 2001 to 2011. 

One of his most frequently quoted lines from the franchise came from the first film, when Hagrid reveals to Harry that he has magic powers and is destined to attend Hogwarts. “Yer a wizard, Harry,” he says in a heavy Scottish accent. 

Another line, spoken by Harry in the first film, also circulated on social media following news of Coltrane’s passing: “It’s not Hogwarts without you, Hagrid.” 

Coltrane first gained fame as Dr. Eddie “Fitz” Fitzgerald, who helped police solve crimes in the British drama series “Cracker.” His turn as a criminal psychologist earned him three consecutive BAFTA Awards for best actor. Queen Elizabeth II appointed Coltrane with an OBE in 2006.

Other roles included a Russian crime boss in the James Bond thrillers “GoldenEye” and “The World is Not Enough.” Coltrane earned rave reviews for playing a beloved TV star who may harbor a dark secret in the 2016 miniseries “National Treasure.”

The actor also appeared in 2004’s “Ocean’s Twelve,” Rian Johnson’s “The Brothers Bloom” in 2008 and the 2012 Dickens film adaptation “Great Expectations,” along with voice work in the animated films “The Tale of Despereaux” (alongside “Potter” co-star Emma Watson) and “Brave.”

Coltrane also joined HBO Max’s “Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts” reunion, highlighting the way young readers all over the world “fell in love” with author J.K. Rowling’s writing.

“One of the reasons I admire J.K. so much is that millions now read books who would have never lifted a book up in their lives,” Coltrane said in the special. “And you suddenly realize the power of writing.” 

Over the last few years, Rowling faced backlash over comments about the transgender community that conflated sex with gender and defended ideas suggesting that changing one’s biological sex threatens her own gender identity. She has doubled down even after the posts were widely perceived as transphobic, misinformative and hurtful. Coltrane defended Rowling last summer, saying those who criticized her comments were “waiting to be offended.” 

Rowling, who said Coltrane was her first choice to play Hagrid, tweeted Friday that he was “an incredible talent, a complete one off … I was beyond fortunate to know him, work with him and laugh my head off with him,” she wrote.

“For me personally, I shall remember him as an abidingly loyal client,” Wright said in a statement. “As well as being a wonderful actor, he was forensically intelligent, brilliantly witty and after 40 years of being proud to be to called his agent, I shall miss him.

Coltrane is survived by his sister Annie Rae, his ex-wife Rhona Gemmell and his children Spencer and Alice, Wright said. 

Contributing: The Associated Press

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