Robbie Coltrane

Coltrane in 2007
Anthony Robert McMillan

(1950-03-30) 30 March 1950 (age 72)
Rutherglen, Scotland
Alma materUniversity of Edinburgh
  • Actor
  • comedian
  • writer
Years active1978–present
Rhona Gemmell
(m. 1999; div. 2003)

Anthony Robert McMillan OBE (born 30 March 1950), known professionally as Robbie Coltrane, is a Scottish actor, comedian and writer. He gained worldwide recognition as Rubeus Hagrid in the Harry Potter film series (2001–2011), and as Valentin Dmitrovich Zukovsky in the James Bond films GoldenEye (1995) and The World Is Not Enough (1999). He was appointed as Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2006 New Year Honours by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to drama. In 1990, Coltrane received the Evening Standard British Film Award – Peter Sellers Award for Comedy. In 2011, he was honoured for his "outstanding contribution" to film at the British Academy Scotland Awards.

He started his career appearing alongside Hugh Laurie, Stephen Fry, and Emma Thompson in the sketch series Alfresco (1983–1984). In 1987, he starred in the BBC miniseries Tutti Frutti alongside Thompson, for which he received his first British Academy Television Award for Best Actor nomination. Coltrane then gained national prominence starring as criminal psychologist Dr. Eddie "Fitz" Fitzgerald in the ITV television series Cracker (1993–2006), a role which saw him receive the British Academy Television Award for Best Actor in three consecutive years (1994 to 1996). In 2006, Coltrane came eleventh in ITV's poll of TV's 50 Greatest Stars, voted by the public.[1] In 2016 he starred in the four-part Channel 4 series National Treasure alongside Julie Walters, a role for which he received a British Academy Television Award nomination.

Coltrane has appeared in two films for George Harrison’s Handmade Films: the Neil Jordan neo-noir Mona Lisa (1987) with Bob Hoskins, and Nuns on the Run with Eric Idle. He also appeared in Kenneth Branagh's Shakespeare adaptation Henry V (1989), the comedy Let It Ride (1989), Steven Soderbergh's crime-comedy thriller Ocean's Twelve (2004), Rian Johnson's caper film The Brothers Bloom (2008), Mike Newell's Dickens film adaptation Great Expectations (2012), and Emma Thompson's biographical film Effie Gray (2014). He is also known for his voice performances in the animated films The Tale of Despereaux (2008), and Pixar's Brave (2012).

Early life and education

Coltrane was born Anthony Robert McMillan on 30 March 1950 in Rutherglen, Scotland, the son of Jean Ross Howie, a teacher and pianist, and Ian Baxter McMillan, a general practitioner who also served as a forensic police surgeon.[2] He has an older sister, Annie, and a younger sister, Jane. Coltrane is the great-grandson of Scottish businessman Thomas W. Howie and the nephew of businessman Forbes Howie.

He started his education at Belmont House School in Newton Mearns before moving to Glenalmond College, an independent school in Perthshire. Though he later described his experiences there as deeply unhappy, he played for the rugby First XV, was head of the school's debating society and won prizes for his art.[3] From Glenalmond, Coltrane went on to Glasgow School of Art, where he was ridiculed for "having an accent like Prince Charles" (which he quickly disposed of, though not before gaining the nickname "Lord Fauntleroy"), and thereafter Moray House College of Education (now part of the University of Edinburgh) in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Coltrane later called for private schools to be banned and used to be known as "Red Robbie",[4] rebelling against his conservative upbringing through involvement with Amnesty International, Greenpeace, the Labour Party, and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.


Coltrane in costume in the 1980s
Coltrane in costume in the 1980s

Coltrane moved into acting in his early twenties, taking the stage name Coltrane (in tribute to jazz saxophonist John Coltrane)[5] and working in theatre and comedy. He appeared in the first theatre production of John Byrne's The Slab Boys, at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh (1978).[6] His comic skills brought him roles in The Comic Strip Presents (1982-2012) series[7] (in 1993 he directed and co-wrote the episode "Jealousy" for series 5),[8] as well as the comedy sketch show Alfresco (1983–1984). In 1984 he appeared in A Kick Up the Eighties (Series 2) and Laugh??? I Nearly Paid My Licence Fee, and is credited as a writer for both.[9][10]

Coltrane moved into roles in films such as Flash Gordon (1980), Death Watch (1980), Balham, Gateway to the South (1981), Scrubbers (1983), Krull (1983), The Supergrass (1985), Defence of the Realm (1985), Absolute Beginners (1986), Mona Lisa (1986) and appeared as "Annabelle" in The Fruit Machine (1988).

On television, he appeared in The Young Ones, Tutti Frutti (1987), as Samuel Johnson in Blackadder the Third (1987)[11] (a role he later reprised in the more serious Boswell and Johnson's Tour of the Western Islands (1993)), LWT's The Robbie Coltrane Special (1989) (which he also co-wrote)[12] and in other stand-up and sketch comedy shows. He played the part of Falstaff in Kenneth Branagh's Henry V (1989). He co-starred with Eric Idle in Nuns on the Run (1990), and played the Pope in The Pope Must Die (1991). He also played a would-be private detective obsessed with Humphrey Bogart in the TV film The Bogie Man (1992).[13]

His roles continued in the 1990s with the TV series Cracker (1993–1996, returning in 2006 for a one-off special), in which he starred as forensic psychologist Dr. Edward "Fitz" Fitzgerald.[14] The role won him three BAFTA awards.[3]

Roles in bigger films followed: the James Bond films GoldenEye (1995) and The World Is Not Enough (1999), a supporting role in From Hell (2001), as well as half-giant Rubeus Hagrid in the Harry Potter films (2001–2011). J. K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, had Coltrane at the top of her list to play Hagrid and, when asked whom she would like to see in the role, responded "Robbie Coltrane for Hagrid" in one quick breath.[15][16]

Coltrane has also presented a number of documentary programmes for the British ITV network based around his twin passions for travel and transportation. Coltrane in a Cadillac (1993) saw him cross North America from Los Angeles to New York behind the wheel of a 1951 Cadillac Series 62 coupe convertible, a journey of 3,765 miles (6,059 km), which he completed in 32 days.

In 1997, Coltrane appeared in a series of six programmes under the title Coltrane's Planes and Automobiles, in which he extolled the virtues of the steam engine, the diesel engine, the supercharger, the V8 engine, the two-stroke engine, and the jet engine. In these programmes he dismantled and rebuilt several engines. He also single-handedly removed the engine from a Trabant car in 23 minutes.[17]

In September 2006, Coltrane was voted No. 11 in ITV's TV's 50 Greatest Stars and sixth in a poll of 2000 adults across the UK to find the 'most famous Scot', behind the Loch Ness Monster, Robert Burns, Sean Connery, Robert the Bruce and William Wallace.[1]

In August 2007, Coltrane presented a series for ITV called B-Road Britain, in which he travelled from London to Glasgow, stopping in towns and villages along the way.

Personal life

Coltrane married Rhona Gemmell on 11 December 1999. The couple have two children: son Spencer (b. 1992), and daughter Alice (b. 1998). Coltrane and Gemmell separated in 2003 and later divorced.[18]

Coltrane suffers from osteoarthritis.[19]

During the campaign for the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, Coltrane voiced his conditional support for independence, stating that "I’d eventually like to see independence – but only an independent Labour Scotland." As of 2005, he lives in Tobermory, Mull. [20]

Acting credits


Year Title Role Notes
1980 Flash Gordon Man at airfield
Death Watch Limousine Driver
1981 Subway Riders Crime Detective
1982 Britannia Hospital Striking worker on picket line Cameo role
1983 Ghost Dance George
Krull Rhun
1984 Chinese Boxes Harwood
1985 National Lampoon's European Vacation Man in bathroom
The Supergrass Det. Sgt. Troy
Defence of the Realm Leo McAskey
1986 Caravaggio Scipione
Mona Lisa Thomas
1987 Eat the Rich Jeremy
1988 The Fruit Machine Annabelle
1989 Henry V Falstaff
Bert Rigby, You're a Fool Sid Trample
Let It Ride Ticket Seller
Danny, the Champion of the World Victor Hazell
Slipstream Montclaire
1990 Midnight Breaks Fat
Nuns on the Run Charlie McManus
Sister Inviolata
Perfectly Normal Alonzo Turner
1991 The Pope Must Die The Pope
Triple Bogey on a Par Five Hole Steffano Baccardi
1992 Oh, What a Night Todd
1993 Boswell & Johnson's Tour of the Western Isles Dr. Samuel Johnson
The Adventures of Huck Finn Duke
1995 GoldenEye Valentin Dmitrovich Zukovsky
1997 Buddy Dr. Bill Lintz
1998 Frogs for Snakes Al
Montana The Boss
1999 The World Is Not Enough Valentin Dmitrovich Zukovsky
Message in a Bottle Charlie Toschi
2001 On the Nose Delaney
From Hell Sergeant Peter Godley
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Rubeus Hagrid
2002 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
2004 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Ocean's Twelve Matsui
Van Helsing: The London Assignment Mr. Hyde Voice
Van Helsing
2005 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Rubeus Hagrid
2006 Stormbreaker The Prime Minister
Provoked Lord Edward Foster
2007 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Rubeus Hagrid
2008 The Tale of Despereaux Gregory Voice
The Brothers Bloom The Curator
2009 Gooby Gooby Voice
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Rubeus Hagrid
2010 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 Cameo
2011 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2
2012 Brave Lord Dingwall Voice
Great Expectations Mr. Jaggers
2014 Effie Gray Doctor


Year Title Role Notes
1979 Play for Today Jimmie "Waterloo Sunset"
1980 The Lost Tribe Border Post Guard "Keep Us Alive"
1981 Metal Mickey Jason "Mickey the Demon Barber"
1981 Keep It in the Family Mr. Conway "A Matter of Principle"
1982 Sin on Saturday Himself 3 episodes
1982 The Young Ones (Series 1) Slobber Episode 2 "Oil"[21]
1982–2012 The Comic Strip Presents... Various roles Special: "Five Go Mad in Dorset"

Series 1–5[7] Director & co-writer: Series 5, Episode 6 "Jealousy" (1993)[8]

1983 Are You Being Served C.B. Voice Voice; Episode: "Calling All Customers"
Alfresco Various roles 13 episodes
1984 A Kick Up the Eighties (Series 2) Various roles Replaced Richard Stilgoe. Writer credits.[9]
1984 Laugh??? I Nearly Paid My Licence Fee Various roles Writer credits.[10]
1984 The Young Ones (Series 2) Dr Carlisle (Ep. 1), Captain Blood (Ep. 4) Episode 1 "Bambi" & Episode 4 "Time"[21]
1985–86 Saturday Live Various roles Pilot show ("On The Waterfront" film spoof)
Show 10 ("The Third Man" film spoof)
1987 Blackadder the Third Samuel Johnson Episode 2 "Ink and Incapability"[11]
1987 Tutti Frutti Danny McGlone 6 episodes
1988 Friday Night Live Various roles
including "Uncle Don Corleone"
Show 6
1988 Blackadder's Christmas Carol The Spirit of Christmas Christmas special
1989 The Robbie Coltrane Special Himself LWT comedy Special; co-writer[12]
1991 Screen One Psychiatrist Liam Kane Episode: "Alive And Kicking"
1992 The Bogie Man Francis Forbes Clunie TV film[22]
1993 The Legend of Lochnagar The old man TV film, voice
Coltrane in a Cadillac Himself 4-part documentary[23]
1993–2006 Cracker Dr. Eddie 'Fitz' Fitzgerald 25 episodes
1997 Coltrane's Planes and Automobiles Himself 6-part documentary
1998 The Ebb-Tide Capt. Chisholm
1999 Alice in Wonderland Ned Tweedledum
2003 Comic Relief: The Big Hair Do Hagrid
2003 The Planman Jack Lennox QC
2004 Pride James
2004 Frasier Michael Moon Episode: "Goodnight, Seattle"
2005 Still Game Davie Series 4, Episode 3: "Dial-A-Bus"
2006 Cracker: Nine Eleven Dr. Eddie 'Fitz' Fitzgerald Television movie
2007 Robbie Coltrane – B Road Britain Himself TV Documentary
2009 Murderland D.I. Douglas Hain
2009 The Gruffalo The Gruffalo Short; Voice
2011 Lead Balloon Donald Series 4 Episode 4: "Off"
Series 4 Episode 5: "Blade"
Series 4 Episode 6: "End"
50 Greatest Harry Potter Moments Himself Narrator
The Gruffalo's Child The Gruffalo Voice; Short[24]
2013 The Many Faces of Robbie Coltrane Himself TV documentary[25]
2016 National Treasure Paul Finchley 4-part TV drama
2016–18 Robbie Coltrane Critical Evidence Host True crime, non fiction
2019–20 Urban Myths Orson Welles Episode: "Orson Welles In Norwich"
2022 Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts Himself HBO Max Special


Year Title Role Notes
1978 The Slab Boys Jack Hogg Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
1980 Threads Performer Hampstead Theatre, London

Awards and honours

Year Award Category Nominated work Result
1987 British Academy Television Award Best Actor Tutti Frutti Nominated
1994 Cracker Won
1995 Won
1996 Won
1996 Royal Television Society Award Best Actor - Male Won
1996 Broadcasting Press Guild Award Best Actor Won
2001 British Academy Film Award Best Actor in a Supporting Role Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Nominated
2001 Saturn Award Best Supporting Actor Nominated
2002 Phoenix Film Critics Society Award Best Ensemble Acting Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Nominated
2016 British Academy Television Award Best Actor National Treasure Nominated
2016 Royal Television Society Award Best Actor – Male Won
2016 Monte-Carlo Television Festival Outstanding Actor in a Mini Series Won
2016 Broadcasting Press Guild Award Best Actor Won

Honorary Awards



  1. ^ a b "ITV to salute '50 greatest stars'". BBC News. BBC Online. 3 July 2006. Retrieved 9 August 2014.
  2. ^ a b "Robbie Coltrane's magical career". BBC News. 31 December 2005.
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  4. ^ Paton, Maureen (20 March 2003). "'Hagrid? I'm just Dad'". London. Archived from the original on 25 October 2003.
  5. ^ "FACE OF THE DAY: Robbie Coltrane; The Trane just kept on a-rollin'". HeraldScotland. 14 November 2001. Retrieved 22 October 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  6. ^ Fisher, Mark (12 February 2015). "The Slab Boys are back: John Byrne and David Hayman mix some fresh mayhem". the Guardian. Retrieved 23 October 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  7. ^ a b Guide, British Comedy. "The Comic Strip Presents... series and episodes list". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 25 October 2021.
  8. ^ a b Guide, British Comedy. "The Comic Strip Presents... Series 5, Episode 6 - Jealousy". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 21 April 2022.
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  10. ^ a b Laugh??? I Nearly Paid My Licence Fee (TV Series 1984– ) - IMDb, retrieved 21 April 2022
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  12. ^ a b "The Robbie Coltrane Special". Retrieved 21 April 2022.
  13. ^ "The Bogie Man (1992)". BFI. Retrieved 29 June 2022.
  14. ^ "Dr Edward "Fitz" Fitzgerald". Retrieved 15 August 2011.
  15. ^ "j.k. rowling". Retrieved 15 August 2011.
  16. ^ Alderson, Andrew (4 November 2001). "'They really do look as I'd imagined they would inside my head'". The Telegraph. Retrieved 9 February 2022.
  17. ^ Adams, Lisa (20 January 2011). "Robbie Coltrane bids fond farewell to beloved Chrysler Jeep as it moves to Riverside Museum". Daily Record. Retrieved 24 September 2021.
  18. ^ Hughes, Sarah (17 September 2016). "Robbie Coltrane: the jovial giant with an enduring hint of menace". the Guardian.
  19. ^ Adejobi, Alicia (14 May 2019). "Harry Potter's Robbie Coltrane left in wheelchair after crippling battle with osteoarthritis leaves him in excruciating pain". Metro. Retrieved 20 July 2021.
  20. ^ McKenna, Kevin (12 July 2014). "Yes or No? Scotland's stars take sides in independence debate". The Guardian.
  21. ^ a b "The Young Ones". Retrieved 23 October 2021.((cite web)): CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  22. ^ Gormley, Charles (29 December 1992), The Bogie Man (Comedy), BBC Films, BBC Scotland, retrieved 29 June 2022
  23. ^ Coltrane in a Cadillac, Tiger Aspect Productions, 4 May 1993, retrieved 25 October 2021
  24. ^ "The Gruffalo's Child". BBC One. Retrieved 10 December 2011.
  25. ^ "The Many Faces of Robbie Coltrane". Retrieved 22 October 2021.
  26. ^ "Evening Standard British Film Awards 1990-2001". 10 April 2012. Retrieved 3 March 2022.
  27. ^ "Robbie Coltrane is honoured at the Scottish Baftas". BBC News. 14 November 2011. Retrieved 3 March 2022.