Scottish actor Robbie Coltrane dies at 72


@rupertgrint on Instagram

Lydia Lutchman, Staff Writer

Every witch and wizard raised their wands for a fallen comrade, Robbie Coltrane on Oct. 14 when the Scottish actor and comedian passed away from multiple organ failure at a hospital in Larbert, Scotland, leaving behind a sister and two children.

The actor suffered from health issues and was confined to a wheelchair in early 2019. Despite this, Coltrane maintained an active public image, even being featured in “Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts” released on Jan. 1, warming the hearts of fans everywhere.

Coltrane was born in Glasgow, Scotland, as Anthony Robert McMillan, and attended art school in that same area. Once he graduated, Coltrane continued his studies of the arts at a college in Edinburgh. However, Coltrane found it difficult to get a gig as an artist and instead turned to stand-up comedy in clubs in Edinburgh. It was during this time that he changed his last name to honor famous jazz musician, John Coltrane, and began an acting career in London.

British audiences quickly got accustomed to seeing the boisterous actor on their television screens. The role that originally revered his status was his portrayal of Dr. Edward Fitzgerald, a criminal psychologist who had a knack for solving crimes, in Jimmy McGovern’s “Cracker” series that ran from 1993 to 1995, with a special revival episode in 2006. Coltrane won three British Academy Film Awards for that role and is regarded as one of the two world record holders for most wins in a row. 

Coltrane’s stellar performance in “Cracker” led to him obtaining a role in two James Bond films, “GoldenEye” and “The World Is Not Enough,” as Russian Mafia Boss Valentin Zukovsky. Many people know of Coltrane’s talents from his supporting role in the “Harry Potter” series as Rubeus Hagrid, the giant but friendly groundskeeper at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He began this role in 2001 in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” and continued with it for all eight movies through 2011. Coltrane was a massive fan of the book series and was ecstatic to be a part of the films. Author J.K. Rowling said that he was a top casting choice. 

“I like when he was preparing Harry for Hogwarts. It showed the big brother role Hagrid played in his life,” said University sophomore Vyaad Ramnarine. “He was always looking out for Harry’s best interest because he knew from his experience how difficult it can be to be different.” 

Upon the announcement of his death, many of his fellow actors and Rowling shared their sadness and gave condolences to his loved ones. He was well appreciated by the main trio of actors, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson, and spent a lot of time with them both in the movie and personally. Watson, who played Hermione Granger, spoke her thoughts on Coltrane, saying “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.”

Watson’s heartfelt message touched many people, especially since the last publicized photo that was taken of Coltrane also included Watson. During the filming of the 20th anniversary special, the two were photographed sitting at a table, deep in conversation with smiles on their faces. 

He had a wide range of acting after “Harry Potter,” appearing in the movies, “Ocean’s 12,” “The Brothers Bloom” and “Great Expectations.” He has also won several awards for his performance in the British television series “National Treasure” in 2016. For his service in the film and drama industry, Coltrane was honored with an OBE in 2006, the second-highest rank the British Empire could award. Coltrane was also given the BAFTA Scotland Award in 2011 for the many contributions and roles he has played on television. 

Coltrane was a one-of-a-kind actor who left a mark on everyone who was fortunate enough to know him. Despite the strong-willed roles Coltrane played, he also balanced it out with his natural kindness. Coltrane stated a bittersweet quote during his interview for the HBO Max special “Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts,” stating “The legacy of the movies is that my children’s generation will show them to their children so that you could be watching them in 50 years time, easy. I’ll not be here, sadly, but Hagrid will.”

This resonated in the hearts of fans everywhere and made it abundantly clear that even if Coltrane is not here on this Earth physically, the legacy he made will last many lifetimes after him and the joy he gave to many others will carry on until the end of time.