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Why Hollywood Won't Cast Robbie Coltrane Anymore

Long before Robbie Coltrane started playing beloved half-giant groundskeeper Rubeus Hagrid in the Harry Potter films, he began his acting career in the world of theater and comedy. Coltrane actually started down his creative career path while attending art school, but he felt like he couldn't express the ideas in his head through those visual mediums. Wondering if acting would be a better fit, he moved to London and got his foot in the door by doing standup comedy.

In the 1980s, Coltrane slowly built up his name recognition with roles in British comedy series like A Kick Up the Eighties, The Comic Strip, and Alfresco. Before playing Hagrid, he was perhaps best known for starring in the crime drama series Cracker and two James Bond films, GoldenEye and The World is Not Enough.

After nearly two decades in the industry, Coltrane eventually landed the role of Hagrid, but ever since the final Harry Potter film, his career has been a bit stagnant. By all accounts, Coltrane would like to continue acting, but there are a few factors that might be making directors a bit hesitant to work with him these days. Here's why Robbie Coltrane isn't landing the high-profile roles he used to, and how he could turn it around.

His no-nonsense attitude

Robbie Coltrane has always made it clear that he doesn't have time for silly questions or drama. He proudly describes himself as "no nonsense." While that's probably a valuable trait if you want to have a successful acting career and keep your name out of the tabloids, Coltrane's attitude can occasionally veer into territory that some would consider unnecessarily caustic.

While interviewing Coltrane for The Guardian, journalist Decca Aitkenhead noted that his demeanor could switch from clever and funny to acerbic and guarded with a single question if he deemed it too frivolous for a serious response. "The no-nonsense edge is never far from the surface, and it only takes a clumsy question to provoke the sharp end of it," noted Aitkenhead. "So although you laugh a lot in his company, you never quite relax." It's not a stretch to imagine that this could make him potentially difficult to work with — impatience could certainly be detrimental to an actor's reputation.

He's not a fan of the press

Part of being an actor is getting used to a lack of privacy. It's unfortunate and unfair that even actors who value their privacy are basically forced to live under the scrutiny of the public eye if they become successful enough, but it's a sacrifice that everyone in the industry has to make. Coltrane is definitely one of those actors, which is perfectly understandable, but he's also known for a certain animosity towards the press — and occasionally fans.

In addition to an infamous outburst directed toward Piers Morgan, Coltrane also has a habit of letting personal details slip to reporters, then quickly backtracking and telling them that whatever he just said shouldn't end up in print. It's similar to Hagrid's habit of running his mouth and then frantically realizing that he shouldn't have revealed a secret. Coltrane, however, tends to use stronger language than Hagrid would — like "If you write that down, I will kill you."

Thankfully, when it comes to young Harry Potter fans, Coltrane is known for his patience. He feels that he has a responsibility to them, and he's happy to sign their books.

His struggles with alcoholism

Many creative professionals struggle with substance abuse, and it seems to be especially common in Hollywood — it's not unusual to hear that one of your favorite actors is checking in for a stint in rehab. No matter how successful someone is on the surface, there's no guarantee that they aren't struggling behind the scenes. Like many other actors, Coltrane has had a troubled relationship with alcohol. He's been quoted as admitting, "Booze is my undoing. I can drink a gallon of beer and not feel the least bit drunk." He's also described himself as a "bottle-of-whiskey-a-day-or-nothing-man." There's no question that an actor who has the tendency to drink too much (and engage in the frustrating and unsavory behaviors that go along with that) can be tough to deal with on set.

Coltrane isn't the only former Harry Potter cast member who has a history of alcoholism. Daniel Radcliffe has also owned up to drinking heavily during those early years of his career, and he's said he was even under the influence while shooting some scenes in the films. Coltrane is far from alone in this, but it may have had an impact on his ability to land new roles.

His health problems have worsened

Acting can be a grueling, exhausting profession. Between long days on set, physically demanding scenes that need to be shot over and over again, and the lack of sleep that comes with a schedule starting early and ending late, it can wear a person down. Dealing with health problems can really set an actor back, and unfortunately, Coltrane has been in poor health for years.

Coltrane deals with osteoarthritis, which has only been getting worse with age. Now, chronic pain caused by the condition has become so severe that Coltrane spends most of his day in a wheelchair. He is planning to get a knee replacement at some point in the future, and his doctors have been encouraging him to lose weight to make it possible. On top of all that, Coltrane is diabetic. Hopefully, his knee replacement will help to alleviate some of the pain and help him get back in front of the camera.

He worries that he was typecast

Although Coltrane has appeared in plenty of different films and television shows over the course of his career, he'll probably always be best known for playing Hagrid. Obviously, Coltrane considers it a great honor to have been a part of the Harry Potter series, and he has nothing but respect for author J.K. Rowling. "Think of all the millions of children she's encouraged to read who'd never have opened a book in their lives, and how good the books were," he told The Guardian.

However, there's no doubt that playing such a famous character for years could easily cause an actor to be typecast, which was one of Coltrane's only reservations about taking on the role in the first place. Coltrane admitted in an interview with the BBC after the release of the first film that he was concerned about being typecast if he spent the next decade of his life playing Hagrid. It appears that this concern may have been valid, and perhaps this is part of the reason he has struggled to find better roles after Harry Potter.

His recent films haven't gotten rave reviews

After his Potter years came to an end, Coltrane continued working steadily on a variety of films and TV shows. Unfortunately, none have received the same kind of adoration Harry Potter did. Of course, it would be difficult to beat that, and it's unlikely that Coltrane expected anything after Potter to reach the same level of acclaim. But it's probably frustrating to star in such an amazing series and then appear in films that don't go over nearly as well with audiences and critics.

In 2013, Coltrane played Jaggers in the film Great Expectations. Although it was based on a classic story, and Coltrane's performance was generally well regarded, the film itself got a mixed response from critics. In 2015, he played the doctor in Effie Gray, a film about the love triangle between Victorian art critic John Ruskin, his wife Effie Gray, and the artist John Everett Millias — which was also met with a mixed response. For a successful actor like Coltrane, being in a string of mediocre films can make it feel like they have to prove themselves all over again.

He continued working on children's films

Not all of Coltrane's post-Potter films have struggled with the critics: the Pixar film Brave, in which Coltrane voiced Lord Dingwall, was a standout. Coltrane has also done voiceover work for a few other films in addition to Brave, including Gooby and The Tale of Despereaux.

But what do these releases have in common? They're all children's films. Coltrane had already sort of typecast himself as Hagrid, a character in a franchise geared towards kids (although of course there have always been plenty of adult Harry Potter fans as well). And if he wanted to get back to more serious roles in films targeted at older audiences, this might have made it more difficult. That's not to say that working on animated films was a bad idea — clearly, Brave was a big hit, and with Coltrane being Scottish, it's easy to see why he would have wanted to be a part of it. Perhaps Coltrane even felt conflicted about which direction he wanted to take his career in for a while.

He starred in a controversial series

While Coltrane did work on several children's films after Potter, some of his other roles were far from family-friendly. For example, he took a risk by starring in the series National Treasure, in which he played Peter Finchley, a fictional comedian who is accused of committing a sexual offense. It focuses on the pitfalls of trial by media and how it affects legal proceedings, and Coltrane was enthusiastic about the project from the beginning, saying he thought that the script was brilliant. But people warned him that playing such a controversial character, especially with the current conversation happening around similar issues in the entertainment industry, might not be the best idea.

Clearly, Coltrane decided to go for it anyway. "A lot of people said, 'Don't touch it Rob, it's poisonous, it's not going to do you any good,'" Coltrane told Channel 4, but his response to those objections was the sensible reminder "It's pretend!" It was a complete 180 from his previous roles–and now, casting directors might be wondering what to do with him.

He doesn't live the typical Hollywood lifestyle

Robbie Coltrane has never been flashy. In fact, it seems that his preference for a quieter, simpler lifestyle is at odds with the entertainment industry as a whole. His frustration with hierarchies and the "posh" class in Scotland began when he was in secondary school, and chafed under the expectation that he should follow the rules perfectly. He's quick to distance himself from the celebrity label, stating, "I'm certainly not in the ranks of the super rich. I don't have that kind of money."

Coltrane is definitely not a guy who's too concerned with climbing the social ranks or making connections with people just for the sake of landing a role. It seems like he'd much rather keep to himself for the most part, do his job well, and focus on the people he genuinely cares about. He might not always be interested in playing the Hollywood game — he sticks with the same principles that he's held since he was a kid in school.

He hosts his own TV show

Robbie Coltrane hasn't been totally out of work lately: since 2016, he's hosted the series Robbie Coltrane's Critical Evidence. In this show, Coltrane explores some of the strangest and most confounding murder cases in Britain. There's no question that true crime stories are intriguing for many people, and the show definitely has an audience — it's run for two seasons so far, and it's still ongoing.

The show has been Coltrane's main project for the past two years, and as the host, it's safe to say that it has probably taken up much of his time. Plus, it truly seems like a passion project for him — judging by some of the projects he's taken on over the years, like his breakout work on the series Cracker, he's clearly interested in the psychology of criminals. For now, Critical Evidence has taken precedence over other potential roles.

He's not going after any specific roles

Robbie Coltrane has already accomplished quite a bit in his career. He was part of Harry Potter history, he's been in comedies and dramas, he appeared in James Bond films, he's done standup comedy, theater, and voice acting for animated films — and now he's even hosting his own TV show. Although Coltrane intends to continue acting, he says that he doesn't really have any specific roles that he feels he needs to play before retiring.

As far as reading scripts goes, Coltrane says, "Whatever turns up, turns up... realistically, I just look at what comes in." He's said that he'd like to be in a cowboy film one day, or get the opportunity to work with actors like Al Pacino or Robert De Niro, but he isn't being especially proactive about going after particular part. He's fine waiting and seeing which opportunities come his way.

He plans to make a comeback

Despite the health problems that he's currently struggling with, Robbie Coltrane says he wants to make a comeback. He's not quite ready to hang up his hat just yet.

In 2018, Coltrane's agent, Belinda Wright, told Express that Coltrane was slated to appear in an upcoming film and a TV series that were both in development. However, due to the fact that Coltrane's health issues have worsened recently, these projects may have been put on the back burner. As of right now, it's unlikely that Coltrane would be able to put in long hours on set due to his chronic pain, but he's said that he wants to end his career in television with one final award-winning performance — and ideally, he'll get that chance after his knee operation.

Hopefully, Coltrane's surgery will be a success, and he'll be able to return to doing what he loves most. His fans definitely miss his presence on the big screen.