In the Harry Potter movies, Hagrid — the gamekeeper at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry — stands well over eight feet tall. This dude makes Shaq look downright petite! However, fans of the books and films know he's a gentle giant. And actor Robbie Coltrane, 54, is a big softie, just like his character. Especially when he talks about the cast of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (opening tomorrow), whom he considers extended family.

"It was like going back home for Thanksgiving," Coltrane says of reuniting with his co-stars. "It's like, 'Hi, how are you? What have you been doing?' It is very nice."

Coltrane's sentimental side really came out while making the series finale of Frasier. The producers had been after him to guest star for a while, but their timing always conflicted with his Potter gigs. At last, he was cast as Daphne's mumbling brother, Michael. "God, I love that show," he admits. "You talk about working with a family. And the last line was, 'Goodnight, Seattle.' I wasn't even [on this show before] and I was all choked up!"

Before he got all weepy, Coltrane had a blast playing Daph's inarticulate, never-before-seen sibling. "We made up this language," he recalls, chuckling. "It is kind of a Yorkshire dialect. It had to sound sort of like words, and it had to sound like an American person's idea of an English accent. Every so often, you had to throw in a word that people would recognize. Otherwise, it is just somebody talking rubbish. That was such fun."