Robbie Coltrane plays comedian Paul Finchley in National Treasure

We uncovered some fascinating facts about the man famous for playing the shaggy-haired giant Hagrid in the Harry Potter movies.

His real name isn’t Robbie Coltrane

He was actually born Anthony Robert McMillan and changed his name when he got into acting. He took the stage name Coltrane as a nod to jazz great John Coltrane.

Before he became an actor he wanted to be an artist

After finishing school, Coltrane studied drawing, painting and film at Glasgow School of Art. That career path didn’t quite pan out, but he said that art school “opened my mind in so many ways”.

He once squatted in a property in London

People often think an actor’s life is glamorous, but in his early days Coltrane lived with some other squatters in an abandoned property on Finchley Road in London. He says the group did repairs on the place despite the council telling them it was unsafe to live in.

Hollywood came calling and he said no

Coltrane has said that Steven Spielberg was a fan of his British TV series Cracker and he was offered several US TV shows after playing the criminal psychologist. He decided to stay in the UK to be close to his children.

He wasn’t always well behaved

Coltrane famously described alcohol as his “undoing” and once allegedly yelled obscenities at TV personality Piers Morgan outside The Ivy, a celebrity haunt in London.

Robbie Coltrane is fiercely protective of his privacy

He is notoriously private

Coltrane is known to go to great lengths to protect his privacy in interviews. He often refuses to answer questions and once said to a Guardian journalist, “If you write that down I will kill you”.

He suffers from osteoarthritis

After it was discovered that he had no cartilage left in one knee, doctors told Coltrane he had to lose more than 40kg to be given treatment. The actor now walks with a cane and does so on-screen in National Treasure.

He didn’t have to audition to star in Harry Potter

Coltrane was cast as lovable giant Rubeus Hagrid in Harry Potter thanks to author JK Rowling. He was part of Rowling’s dream cast for the movies, as well as Maggie Smith as Professor McGonagall, and was given the part without auditioning.  

Stream the whole season of National Treasure or check out Coltrane in his documentary series, Robbie Coltrane’s Critical Evidence.