Robbie Coltrane, the Scottish comic and actor beloved by “Harry Potter” fans around the world for playing Rubeus Hagrid on screen, has died at 72.
Coltrane’s agent Belinda Wright said he died Friday at a hospital in Scotland, the Associated Press reported. She did not give a cause.
Born Anthony Robert McMillan in Glasgow, he went to art school and did stand-up comedy in Edinburgh. He eventually changed his last name to honor jazz icon John Coltrane when he took up acting in London, landing early TV roles on “Flash Gordon,” “Blackadder” and “Keep It in the Family.” He eventually became a familiar TV face in the U.K. after appearing in series such as “A Kick Up the Eighties,” “The Comic Strip” and “Alfresco,” before scoring his breakout role as criminal psychologist Dr. Edward “Fitz” Fitzgerald in the crime series “Cracker” between 1993 and 2006.” That part landed him three BAFTA awards.
Coltrane also scored roles in two James Bond films, playing Russian mob boss Valentin Zukovsky in “GoldenEye” and “The World Is Not Enough.”
But his arguably most iconic role was playing Hagrid, the half-giant groundskeeper at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry at the heart of the film adaptations of J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter” franchise. In fact, Rowling personally suggested that director Christopher Columbus cast Coltrane as Hagrid in the first film, 2001’s “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”
“I’ll never know anyone remotely like Robbie again,” Rowling tweeted on Friday. “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.”
And as Coltrane told the Guardian in a 2012 interview, he took playing the beloved children’s book character seriously. “Kids come up to you and they go: ‘Would you like to sign my book?’ with those big doe-eyes. And it’s a serious responsibility.”
““The legacy of the movies is that my children’s generation will show them to their children, so you can be watching it in 50 years’ time, easy. I’ll not be here, sadly, but Hagrid will.””
So naturally, “Hagrid” and “RIP legend” began trending on Twitter on Friday afternoon as news of Coltrane’s death spread. Fans and his “Harry Potter” costars paid tribute to the star who was a giant onscreen and in life.
“A giant, in more ways than one,” tweeted Matthew Lewis, who played Harry Potter’s Gryffindor classmate Neville Longbottom in the movies.
James Phelps, who played Fred Weasley in the “Potter” films, tweeted about how Coltrane eased the then 14-year-old Phelps’ nerves on their first day of filming.
Here’s a sampling of the reactions to Coltrane’s death online.
Coltrane’s agent Wright said that “as well as being a wonderful actor, he was forensically intelligent, brilliantly witty and after 40 years of being proud to be called his agent, I shall miss him.” He is survived by his sister Annie Rae, his ex-wife Rhona Gemmell and his children Spencer and Alice.
And as Coltrane poignantly predicted during the “Harry Potter” reunion special that aired on HBO Max earlier this year, he’ll live on in Hagrid forever.
“The legacy of the movies is that my children’s generation will show them to their children, so you can be watching it in 50 years’ time, easy,” he said. “I’ll not be here, sadly, but Hagrid will.”
Associated Press reporting contributed to this article.