Robbie Coltrane – A gentle giant
By Kieran Burt.
Not long ago, Robbie Coltrane sadly passed away. He was aged 72, and his work affected so many people. Most people know him as the caring and loveable Rubeus Hagrid in Harry Potter, but he’s been in much more than just that. Here’s a look at some of the other roles that Coltrane has appeared in.
Coltrane has appeared in two Bond films, Goldeneye (1995) and The World Is Not Enough (1999). In both, he appears as the character Valentin Zukovsky, an ex-KGB agent and ally to James Bond. At first, the pair are in conflict with each other, after Bond shot Zukovsky in the leg and stole his car. Years later, Zukovsky would begrudgingly help Bond to find Janus, played by Sean Bean.
Later, in The World Is Not Enough, Zukovsky would again help Bond. Now the owner of a casino, Bond is seeking information on the terrorist Renard. Zukovsky takes Bond to a former safehouse in Istanbul, where Zukovsky is almost killed by an IED. Later in the film, Elecktra King shoots Zukovsky, and he dies shortly after.
Coltrane has dipped into the sci-fi genre, playing Rhun in the 1983 film Krull. This film comes very early in Coltrane’s career, when the actor wasn’t well known. The character of Rhun is played by Coltrane, who is a stubborn bandit. While the film was critically panned and failed at the box office, it luckily didn’t derail Coltrane.
Describing Coltrane as a gentle giant seems apt, especially when considering his role as the voice as the Gruffalo. The 2009 film adaptation is based on the book of the same name written by Julia Donaldson. It features a mouse tricking several animals (including the titular Gruffalo) so that they don’t eat him. Coltrane later reprised his role as the Gruffalo in the 2011 sequel, The Gruffalo’s Child.
This role, while being aimed at younger audiences, showcases his range as an actor. Voice acting requires a whole different set of skills than just regular acting, as using body gestures is much harder to do. Coltrane will no doubt make an impact as the monster in this adaptation of the beloved children’s book.
In 2012, Coltrane lent his talents to voice acting once again, this time to Disney’s Brave. This is the story of a girl who wishes to defy an age-old tradition, but ends up cursing her mum in the process. Coltrane voiced the authoritarian Lord Dingwall, a Scottish lord who is well versed in solving his problems with a good old bout of fisticuffs. When The Guardian spoke to Coltrane and asked if he considered it stereotyped old Scotsmen to “bickering scrappers”, Coltrane responded with:
“That’s what life was like in those days. What do you think Japan was like? They regularly stole each others’ lands with violence, so no, I didn’t think it was offensive.”
Coltrane makes a brief but memorable appearance in the 2004 film Ocean’s 12, as an informant named Matsui. As he’s not part of the main cast, he doesn’t get much time to shine. Matsui works out of a coffee shop, and he becomes memorable for his part in a trick that he plays on Matt Damon’s character, Linus Caldwell. Matsui, Danny Ocean (George Clooney), and Rusty Ryan all speak pseudo-philosophical nonsense to confuse Caldwell into nking they’re speaking in code. Caldwell then randomly blurts out the lyrics to the Led Zeppelin single “Kashmir”, which Danny and Rusty immediately call on him for insulting Matsui’s niece. In a Reddit thread discussing the scene, many people consider it to be the best in the franchise.
While Coltrane’s role as Hagrid is no doubt his most recognizable role, the actor has featured in a multitude of films and franchises. His films are loved by many generations of people, not just those that have grown up with the Harry Potter franchise but those who saw his other work too. His booming voice will have touched the ears of the children who watched The Gruffalo. He is a presence that is a presence that will be sorely missed.