Robbie Coltrane grew so fond of the young ‘Harry Potter’ cast working with them made him feel like he was watching his own kids grow up.

The acting icon, who died aged 72 on Friday (14.10.22) after being left wheelchair-bound by knee pain after an osteoarthritis battle, said in his last known film appearance he became highly protective of the franchise’s child stars, including Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint.

He said about working with the youngsters during an interview for HBO’s TV special ‘Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts’ – his last known film, released on New Year’s Day: “You’ve got to remember, when they first started they were about eight. I think the oldest of them was 11.

“Now they’re big grown-ups with their own lives. Grint’s had a baby – Grint’s now a father! It’s just astonishing, the change.

“Watching them growing up was kind of like watching your own grow up, you know. Because you were protecting them.

“I was always astonished at how fearless they were. I remember walking into The Great Hall, and I’ve been doing this for 30 years, and I thought, ‘Dear Lord! Woah, better get this one right’.

“I do have enormous happy memories of this actually.”

He also insisted the adult actors were on their best behaviour without any “fighting or swearing” on set as “everyone just thought, ‘Kids’.”

Robbie, who played Hogwarts’ gentle giant gamekeeper Rubeus Hagrid in all eight Potter films, which launched in 2001 and grossed nearly £10 billion at the box office, was also lauded for playing psychologist ‘Fitz’ in 1990s TV detective drama ‘Cracker’,

He was also globally famous for his turn as Valentin Dmitrovich Zukovsky in James Bond films ‘GoldenEye’ and ‘The World Is Not Enough’.

The ‘Harry Potter’ cast and creator Jk Rowling lead tributes to Robbie after his passing was announced by his agent on Friday evening.

Daniel Radcliffe said in a statement to Variety: “Robbie was one of the funniest people I’ve met and used to keep us laughing constantly as kids on the set.

“I’ve especially fond memories of him keeping our spirits up on ‘Prisoner of Azkaban,’ when we were all hiding from the torrential rain for hours in Hagrid’s hut and he was telling stories and cracking jokes to keep morale up.

“I feel incredibly lucky that I got to meet and work with him and very sad that he’s passed. He was an incredible actor and a lovely man.”

Fred Weasley actor James Phelps also recalled Robbie Coltrane’s kindness on the Potter films, saying on Twitter: “I’ll never forget in September 2000, Robbie Coltrane came over to a very nervous 14yr old me on my 1st ever day on a movie set and said ‘Enjoy it, you’ll be great’. Thank you for that x.”

Robbie shared son Spencer and daughter Alice with sculptor Rhona Gemmell, who he married in 1999 but divorced four years later.