The son of a doctor, Robbie Coltrane was born Anthony Robert McMillan in Rutherglen, South Lanarkshire on March 30, 1950 and educated (sporadically) at Glenalmond College in Perth and Kinross, Glasgow School of Art, and the Moray House College Of Education in Edinburgh. He moved into acting in his early twenties, taking the stage name Coltrane (in tribute to jazz saxophonist John Coltrane) and working in theatre and stand-up comedy.
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Prior to being cast in the role of the half-giant Hagrid, Robbie was a fan of the book series, having read them to his children, complete with different voices for each character. When J.K. Rowling mentioned in an interview that she wanted Coltrane for the part of Hagrid, it was Coltrane’s children that were the deciding factor. Once his son heard that he was wanted for the part, Robbie felt a bit of pressure to take on the role. In an interview on the BBC show Parkinson, he explains that he was determined to not make the character of Hagrid a sentimental one, saying there was a difference between being an emotional character and one with Disney “cutsieness”.
When casting the role of Rubeus Hagrid, producer David Heyman stripped the part down.
“Hagrid is a larger-than-life character, and we wanted somebody to play him who we knew could be tough and strong, but at the same time, warm, vulnerable, and very funny. And Robbie Coltrane had all those qualities.”
Robbie continued to play the role of Hogwarts’ Keeper of Keys and Grounds at Hogwarts, and later on Professor in Care of Magical Creatures classes, through the entire Harry Potter series. As the first adult to show Harry kindness and to tell him the truth of where he had come from, it’s easy to see why a strong bond was forged between Harry and Hagrid from the beginning.
“Hagrid is not a father substitute,” says Robbie of his role in an interview for Harry Potter: Film Wizardry. “Hagrid’s not quite smart enough for that! He’s just a kind, decent, ‘uncle’ who has Harry’s best interests at heart.”
In 2009, Robbie joined forces with J.K. Rowling and other celebrities to participate in Give Tilly a Hand, a charity to benefit a little girl who had her feet and hands amputated due to contracting meningitis. Each celebrity designed a hand print – Rowling included Potter-related items, while Robbie filled his with green shapes and designs, as seen below:
Another charity that Robbie has supported is Sightsavers International. The organization works to change attitudes about the importance of eye health and disabled people’s rights. In 2008, Robbie joined other celebrities who support the organization and donated a pair of eyeglasses to be sold on Ebay, with all funds going directly to the charity.
Did you know…?
- Robbie took the role of Rubeus Hagrid after his two children, Spencer and Alice, urged him to do so.
- He made is stage debut at age 12, in a production of Henry V at Glenalmond College.
- Robbie was the very first cast member to be chosen for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, by none other than J.K. Rowling!
- He was awarded the O.B.E. (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2006 New Year’s Honours List for his services to drama.
- He graduated from the Glasgow School of Art where he majored in drawing, painting and film.
Connect with Robbie Coltrane
Connect with Robbie Coltrane
Caroline Dawson Associates
125 Gloucester Road
London SW7 4TE
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