James Bond, Cracker and more: Robbie Coltrane was much more than Harry Potter

For whole generations of moviegoers, Robbie Coltrane will always be Rubeus Hagrid.

As the hulking and kindly gamekeeper of the Harry Potter movies, Coltrane endeared himself to fantasy fans who watched him play Hagrid in eight chapters of the mega-successful franchise.

It may be the defining role of his career.

Coltrane’s death at 72 after two years ill health led to an outpouring of tributes and memories for a versatile and respected thespian.

But it may be that his most famous role, which he only took after his kids persuaded him to do so, overshadowed a varied career which took in everything from sketch comedy to serious dramas.

Here are a handful of Coltrane performances you may have forgotten about.

GoldenEye and The World is Not Enough

Coltrane traded in his Scottish brogue for a playful Russian one in the first and third James Bond movies from the Pierce Brosnan era.

As Valentin Dmitrovich Zukovsy, Coltrane played up the moral ambiguity of the former KGB agent. He was useful, but could Bond trust him? Now a mafia figure, the ex-spy was reluctant to do Bond a favour but saw the profit potential of collaborating.

When he returns in The World is Not Enough, Coltrane is given more to do. His character must choose a side in the escalating conflict and thwart Elektra’s plan. But it’s his death scene – and his final action – which cements Zukovsky (and Coltrane) in the legacy of Bond’s adventures.


For British TV fans, it’s Coltrane’s run in three seasons (and two specials) of Cracker that lives on in their memories.

From 1993 to 1995, he played the gruff, alcoholic and chain-smoking Fitz, a criminal psychologist with a prodigious talent for deduction. He might’ve been brusque, but as is often the case with antihero geniuses on TV, we love them anyway (even if we probably wouldn’t want to know them in real life).

Coltrane was so beloved in the role, he won three consecutive Best Actor TV BAFTAs in row. The show itself won Best Drama in 1995 and 1996.

Ocean’s Twelve

Coltrane only had a small role in Ocean’s Twelve but it was pivotal in kicking the story off.

He played the informant Matsui, an associate of Danny’s who tipped off the master thief to the stock certificates. Of course, Matsui had been hired by The Night Fox to do exactly that in a complex set-up but it was still memorable.


Coltrane’s comedic talents were on full show in Alfresco, a 1983 sketch series that also served as a launchpad for, no less, Stephen Fry, Hugh Laurie and Emma Thompson. Ben Elton was the main writer.

How about that for illustrious company?

Today, Fry wrote on social media, “I first met Robbie Coltrane almost exactly 40 years ago. I was awe/terror/love struck all at the same time.

“Such depth, power and talent: funny enough to cause helpless hiccups and honking as we made our first TV show Alfresco. Farewell, old fellow. You’ll be so dreadfully missed.”


You didn’t so much see Coltrane in the Disney and Pixar classic as you heard him.

Coltrane gave a voice performance as Lord Dingwall in the Scottish story of Princess Merida, and he was self-deprecating about the role in the best way.

He said in a 2012 interview about voicing a shouty and short character, “Yeah, it’s not exactly glam, not the sort of thing they would have offered to Brad Pitt or George Clooney, I look like a haystack”.

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