Page last updated at 00:02 GMT, Saturday, 31 December 2005

Robbie Coltrane's magical career

Robbie Coltrane
Coltrane won three consecutive Baftas for his role in Cracker

Scottish actor Robbie Coltrane, who has been made an OBE in the New Year honours list, is best known for his recurring role in the Harry Potter films.

Author JK Rowling is said to have personally requested the 55-year-old for the part of Rubeus Hagrid, the gentle giant who tends the grounds and looks after the animals at Hogwarts School of Wizardry and Witchcraft.

The larger-than-life role, which he has played in four films to date, has made him an international star.

But the actor, born Anthony Robert McMillan in Rutherglen on the outskirts of Glasgow on 30 March 1950, had already established himself in the UK thanks to roles in two James Bond movies and ITV crime drama Cracker.

Jazz lover Coltrane, who took his stage name in tribute to the saxophonist John Coltrane, was the middle child of a teacher mother and a physician father who worked at one time as a police surgeon.

Educated at the Glenalmond public school in Perthshire, the future Bafta winner later enrolled at Glasgow Art School where he took a diploma in drawing, painting and film.

Chain-smoking

In 1973 he made a 50-minute documentary called Your Mental Health that earned awards and critical notice.

Working as a stage actor and stand-up comedian, Coltrane supported himself in the 1970s through a series of low-paid jobs.

Robbie Coltrane as Hagrid
He first played Hagrid in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

One of his early successes was The Slab Boys by John Byrne, with whom he would work again in 1987 on the BBC TV series Tutti Frutti.

Coltrane worked extensively in television in the 1980s, appearing in The Comic Strip Presents, The Young Ones and Blackadder.

Film roles followed, including Kenneth Branagh's Henry V and the comedies Nuns on the Run and The Pope Must Die.

However, it was his role as chain-smoking forensic psychiatrist Fitz in Cracker that proved the turning point.

Robert Lindsay was writer Jimmy McGovern's first choice but Coltrane made the part his own, winning three consecutive best TV actor Baftas.

Coltrane has a son, Spencer, and a daughter, Alice, with ex-wife Rhona Gemmell, from whom he separated in 2003.

He will shortly be seen playing the prime minister in Stormbreaker, a junior James Bond-style adventure based on the bestselling novels by Anthony Horowitz.



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