Robbie Coltrane and Rembrandt are on the Grand Canal in Venice. They are sharing a dram and talking (Robbie has miraculously learnt fluent Dutch for this meeting!) over the noise of a vaparetto Riva with a V-8 engine that is burbling in the background. Robbie would have liked to chat about the Great Eastern to Isambard Kingdom Brunel, but he was too busy designing some bridge or other to sit still for long enough.
Robbie’s favourite drink is whisky, Scotland’s National Drink. It always makes him proud, when in some far-flung place in the world, scanning the shelves in a bar or hotel, eyes dazzled by endless green, blue or even yellow concoctions (some with little trees apparently growing inside them), to find a group of gems from Islay, Deeside or Speyside, and to know that the quality will be consistently excellent. Anis, on the other hand, is something Robbie would never drink. He drank a lot of it one night when he was young, and the smell of it always makes him feel queasy.
Robbie’s most memorable drink to date was consumed when he was filming Huckleberry Finn and spent a terrific evening with Jason Robards. They sipped whisky and watched the Mississippi flow by as he told great tales of his life in the movies, and so much more. Robbie found him to be such an interesting guy, with a wry sense of humour: both a survivor and a great talent.
Robbie has also known and worked with a lot of very talented Scots: John Byrne, Peter McDougall, Sandy Stoddart, Muriel Gray and Tilda Swinton to name but a few. He believes we also owe a lot to Bridget McConnell and others, who believe the quality of everyone’s life is enriched by the arts. Almost any art by Henry Raeburn or John Byrne gives Robbie pleasure or engages him at some level.
When it comes to Scotland. Robbie is inspired by the constantly changing weather, which throws the landscape into a different light, quite literally, from one moment to another. It always makes him glad to be home.