Robbie Coltrane was best known as the lovable Hagrid, but he also played the brilliant crime-solving doctor in the British series “Cracker,” a Russian mafia head in two James Bond films and voiced a scrappy Scottish lord in Pixar’s “Brave.” If you want to catch up with his best work, here are some great places to start.
Coltrane more than holds his own opposite an Oscar-nominated Bob Hoskins in Neil Jordan’s moody neo-noir.
Danny McGlone / Big Jazza in “Tutti Frutti” (1987)
This short-lived but beloved British seris, which also helped launch Emma Thompson’s career, featured Coltrane as a rock star who dies in a bus crash and the younger brother who tries to take his place. It’s now streaming on BritBox.
Coltrane is hilarious as the spirit who is weary of persuading skinflints to change their ways on Christmas Eve. He visit to Mr. Blackadder (Rowan Atkinson) has a reverse Scrooge effect and accidentally the formerly kind shopkeeper to give up his good ways and become evil.
Sir John Falstaff in “Henry V” (1989)
In a brief flashback, we see the profound hurt on Falstaff’s face when his old friend, Hal (Kenneth Branagh) banishes him from court after being declared King in Branagh’s Oscar-nominated Shakespeare adaptation.
Charlie McManus/Sister Inviolata of the Immaculate Conception in “Nuns on the Run” (1990)
Coltrane in a convent? Yup. Two London gangsters (Coltrane and Eric Idle) are forced to disguise themselves as — what else? — nuns in this genial riff on “Some Like It Hot” from “Clue” and “My Cousin Vinny” director Jonathan Lynn. Don’t miss a habited-Coltrane playing basketball and instructing “Sister Euphemia” on how to cross yourself, Catholic: style: “Spectacles, testicles, wallet and watch.”
Dr. Edward “Fitz” Fitzgerald in “Cracker” (1993 – 1995)
Criminal psychologist Fitz smokes too much and drinks too much, but he can crack a case (hence the nickname) better than anyone else. Coltrane earned three consecutive BAFTA awards for his role as the shrewd, insightful doc.
Valentin Dmitrovich Zukovsky in “GoldenEye” 1995, “The World is Not Enough” (1999)
Coltrane happily sinks his teeth into the role of the luxury-loving ex-KGB officer turned Russian mafia head who is (sometimes) an ally to James Bond in two Pierce Brosnan films.
Sergeant George Godley in “From Hell” (2001)
Professor Rubeus Hagrid in the Harry Potter films (2001 – 2011)
When it came time to cast the Harry Potter movies, J.K. Rowling rightly insisted that Coltrane was the only actor for the part and he finally agreed to take on what would become his best-known and most beloved role. Hagrid is not only Harry’s first contact with the world of wizarding, he’s also his first real father figure. Whether Hagrid is fiercely protecting Harry, Hermione and Ron or a baby dragon, his heart is every bit as big as he is. It’s hard to imagine these films, which he made so much richer, without him.
Lord Dingwall in “Brave” (2012)
This short but feisty Scottish Lord starts a brawl among Princess Merida’s potential suitors when he and his ankle-biting son are disrespected at court. “Are you scared simperin’ jackanapes?” he shouts before siccing Wee Dingwall on the lot of them.
Coltrane received a BAFTA nomination for his portrayal of Peter Finchley, half of a popular fictional comedy duo who is put on trial for a sexual assault from several years ago. As the true nature of this “national treasure” is revealed, his family and formerly adoring fans — and people watching this award-winning series — struggle to reconcile both sides of this once beloved entertainer.