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SYFY WIRE obituary

Robbie Coltrane, alum of 'Harry Potter' and 'James Bond,' dies at 72; Wizarding World cast members react

RIP to the Keeper of the Keys.

By Josh Weiss
Robbie Coltrane GETTY

Robbie Coltrane — the Scottish actor who famously played the monster-loving half-giant and Hogwarts groundskeeper, Rubeus Hagrid, in all eight Harry Potter films over a decade-long period between 2001 and 2011 — has died at the age of 72, Variety confirmed Friday.

As far as casting goes, there was no one better to play the hulking Keeper of the Keys with the pink umbrella. Coltrane brought a warmth and lovable naiveté to the role, perfectly capturing the qualities that made Hagrid come to life in the original books. He literally enters the story with a bang, knocking down the front door of the Dursleys' oceanfront cabin in Sorcerer's Stone and informing the young protagonist of his magical destiny with those four immortal words: "Yer a wizard, Harry."

"The legacy of the movies is that my children's generation will show them to their children," the actor remarked of the multi-billion dollar Wizarding World franchise during an interview for HBO Max's Potter reunion special, which released earlier this year. "So you could be watching it in 50 years time, easy. I'll not be here, sadly...but Hagrid will."

Speaking with The Movie Times last year, he summarized the appeal of Hagrid: "Everybody in the world would like a really big, huge, strong, good man on their side. It's as simple as that. That's the attraction of Superman and all these things ... Hagrid was obviously the good guy, wasn't he? And the way he looked after Harry. He was the guy who told him he was a wizard, he was there at the start. It was a lovely part to play for that reason and we had a lot of fun with it."

Daniel Radcliffe, who played the titular boy wizard throughout the movies, paid homage to his late co-star in a statement provided to SYFY WIRE: “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.”

"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," wrote Emma Watson (Hermione Granger) on her Instagram story. "His talent was so immense, 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. There was no better Hagrid. You made it a joy to be Hermione."

Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley) wrote: "Heartbroken to hear that Robbie is gone. I’ll never forget the smell of cigars and beard glue- a wonderful combination. No one else on this planet could of played Hagrid, only Robbie. Just as Hagrid was in the books and films Robbie was in life- warm, compassionate and hilarious. A giant hearted man who was still looking out for us even decades later. Sending love to his family. See you on the other side Bobser."

"I'll never know anyone remotely like Robbie again," echoed Potter author, J.K. Rowling on Twitter. "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."

Chris Columbus, director of the first two movies, described Coltrane's passing as "a sad day for our Potter family," going on to pay tribute to other deceased cast members of the franchise like Richard Griffiths (Vernon Dursley), Alan Rickman (Professor Severus Snape), and Richard Harris (the first actor to play Albus Dumbledore). "One of the warmest, kindest souls I’ve ever met, Robbie Coltrane, has left us," the filmmaker continued. "Loved by millions, he was not only a truly great actor, but one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. Hope you’re having a helluva time up there, laughing your ass off with Griffiths, Rickman and Harris!! Love you!!!"

Tom Felton, who played the character of Draco Malfoy, recalled one of his favorite recollections of Coltrane, which took place during the filming of Sorcerer's Stone. "One of my fondest memories of filming Harry Potter was a night shoot on the first film in the forbidden forest. I was 12. Robbie cared and looked after everyone around of him. Effortlessly. And made them laugh. Effortlessly. He was a big friendly giant on screen but even more so In real life. Love you mate — thank you for everything." 

Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley) declared she was "heartbroken" over the actor's passing. "Hagrid was my favorite character! Robbie portrayed Hagrid's warmth, sense of home, and unconditional love for his students and magical creatures so brilliantly. Robbie always treated me and my fellow cast mates when we were wee kids like equal professionals on a film set. A type of attitude that instilled confidence and a sense of togetherness. Thanks for all the laughter. Miss you, Robbie. Sending love to your family. Rest In Peace."

James Phelps (Fred Weasley; his twin brother, Oliver Phelps, played George) voiced his dismay on Instagram: "Will miss the random chats about all subjects under the sun. And I'll never forget in September 2000, Robbie Coltrane came over to a very nervous 14-year-old me on my first ever day on a movie set and said 'Enjoy it, you'll be great.'"

Coltrane also appeared in a pair of James Bond movies during the Pierce Brosnan era (GoldenEye and The World is Not Enough) as 007's Russian enemy-turned-ally, Valentin Dmitrovich Zukovsky. Born Anthony Robert McMillan (via Empire) in March of 1950, the actor changed his surname to pay homage to famed jazz saxophonist, John Coltrane. His career stretched back to the early 1980s with roles in Flash Gordon and National Lampoon's European Vacation.

Wizarding World fans can relive Coltrane's indelible performance as Hagrid with all eight Potter films now streaming on Peacock.