Tom Felton Pays Tribute to Late 'Harry Potter' Co-Star Robbie Coltrane on His Birthday
Tom Felton is remembering his late Harry Potter co-star Robbie Coltrane on what would have been his 73rd birthday. In an essay shared with E! News on Thursday, Felton, who starred in the beloved franchise as Hogwarts student Draco Malfoy opposite Coltrane's Rubeus Hagrid, remembered Coltrane as "endlessly playful" and "always kind."
Noting that "in the early days of Harry Potter, the cast comprised two distinct groups: children and adults," Felton, who was just 13 when he starred in the first film alongside Emma Watson, 9, and Daniel Radcliffe, 11, wrote, "do the math: You were either one of the kids, or you were one of the grown-ups. Unless, that is, you were Robbie Coltrane." The actor said that Coltrane "managed to be an adult and a child at the same time, maintaining a foot in both camps," adding that Coltrane's "knowledge of the world was astounding." Felton said, "you could tell that the older actors valued and respected his experience."
"We just wanted to be, well, kids – mischievous, impish and high-spirited. But so did Robbie," Felton wrote. "He had more mischief in him than a common room full of Slytherins. He could fool around with the best of us. He might have had the mind of an adult, but he truly had the heart of a child."
According to Felton, Coltrane "was always looking to lighten the mood and make us laugh," and during their first table read for the first film, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, Coltrane and Watson decided to play a joke during introductions, Felton recounting, "Before we started, we all introduced ourselves: 'I'm Dan, and I'll be playing Harry Potter.' 'I'm Tom, and I'll be playing Draco Malfoy.' Robbie and Emma were sitting side by side. When their turn came, he persuaded her to swap characters. 'I'm Emma and I'll be playing Rubeus Hagrid.' 'I'm Robbie and I'll be playing Hermione Granger.' We all giggled into our scripts as this huge, friendly, charming, smiling man reminded us with that one little joke that we should approach this endeavor with a sense of fun."
Despite his playful demeanor, Felton remembered Coltrane as a "true professional" and someone who the young cast "learned our trade from watching." Felton added that Coltrane "set a great example" to everyone on how to "nail the basic skills of being on set, but never in a boring or patronizing way." He also credited Coltrane for creating "an environment that allowed us all to be playful."
"He never took himself too seriously – and these characteristics lay at the heart of everything, I think, because if Robbie took himself too seriously, if he forgot what it meant to be kind, there would have been no Hagrid," Felton concluded. "Without Hagrid, there's no Hogwarts. And nobody could, would or ever will play that gentle giant half as well as my dearly missed friend Robbie Coltrane."
Coltrane starred as Hagrid throughout the franchise's eight films. The beloved actor passed away at the age of 72 in October 2022, just months after he reunited with his former costars for the HBO Max special Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts, which was released on New Year's Day 2022.