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Robbie Coltrane, the veteran comic and actor known for his star turns in the British crime series Cracker and the Harry Potter movie franchise, died Friday, The Hollywood Reporter has learned. He was 72.
Coltrane’s agent Belinda Wright called him a “unique talent,” whom she’ll remember as “an abidingly loyal client.”
“As well as being a wonderful actor, he was forensically intelligent and brilliantly witty, and after 40 years of being proud to be to called his agent, I shall miss him,” Wright added of Coltrane in a statement.
The boisterous and decidedly eccentric Scotsman, who began his career in comedy and theater, also commanded the screen in two James Bond films during an illustrious career on both sides of the Atlantic.
Coltrane was born Anthony Robert McMillan on March 30, 1950, in Glasgow, Scotland, as the son of a doctor and a teacher. After graduating from Glasgow Art School, he continued his studies in art at Moray House College of Education in Edinburgh.
But as his attempts to become an artist failed to pan out, Coltrane took up stand-up comedy in Edinburgh clubs. And he changed his last name in honor of the jazz legend John Coltrane as he turned to acting in London.
Coltrane’s early TV credits include Flash Gordon, Blackadder and Keep It in the Family. His other comedy credits included series like A Kick Up the Eighties, The Comic Strip and Alfresco as he became a mainstay on British TV screens.
Coltrane’s breakout role was playing Dr. Edward “Fitz” Fitzgerald, an anti-social criminal psychologist with a gift for solving crimes, in Jimmy McGovern’s Cracker series, which ran over 25 episodes between 1993 and 2006.
Coltrane won three consecutive BAFTA best television actor awards for that role, sharing a record for most wins in a row.
That performance led Coltrane to roles in two James Bond films, playing Valentin Zukovsky in GoldenEye and The World Is Not Enough. But most know Coltrane from his other big supporting role: Rubeus Hagrid, the giant groundskeeper at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, in the Harry Potter films, starting with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in 2001.
Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling took to social media to remember Coltrane, writing, “I’ll 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. I send my love and deepest condolences to his family, above all his children.”
Daniel Radcliffe, who played Harry Potter alongside Coltrane’s Hagrid, said in a statement, “Robbie was one of the funniest people I’ve met and used to keep us laughing constantly as kids on the 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. 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 Hermoine Granger in Potter said in a statement shared on her Instagram story, “Robbie was like the most fun uncle I’ve ever had, but most of all, he was deeply caring and compassionate towards me as a child and an adult. His talent was so immense that it made sense he played a giant — he could fill ANY space with his brilliance. 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.”
Other Potter stars including Tom Felton, Bonnie Wright, Matthew Lewis and more also paid tribute to the late actor on social media.
Others sharing their memories included Hugh Laurie, who wrote on Twitter, “I used to ride with Robbie Coltrane between Manchester and London in his sort-of-restored MGA. I’d roll him cigarettes while he discoursed on the ways of the world, and I don’t think I’ve ever laughed or learned so much in my life.”
Stephen Fry said, “I first met Robbie Coltrane almost exactly 40 years ago. I was awe/terror/love struck all at the same time. Such depth, power & talent: funny enough to cause helpless hiccups & honking as we made our first TV show, Alfresco. Farewell, old fellow. You’ll be so dreadfully missed.”
Coltrane penned an autobiography, Coltrane in a Cadillac, and also starred in the TV series of the same name in 1993, where he drove across America from Los Angeles to New York City in a classic 1951 Cadillac.
Coltrane is survived by a sister, Annie Rae, his children, Spencer and Alice, and their mother, Rhona Gemmell.
The family, Wright said, “would like to thank the medical staff at Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert, Scotland for their care and diplomacy.”
11:37 a.m. Updated with a statement from Coltrane’s agent.
1:53 p.m. This story has been updated with tributes to Coltrane from J.K. Rowling, Daniel Radcliffe, James Phelps, Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry.
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