Raphael Coleman, who starred in 2005’s Nanny McPhee alongside Emma Thompson and Colin Firth, has died. He was 25.
The young actor, who turned to activism after studying zoology at the University of Manchester, died on Friday after he collapsed suddenly during a run, The Mirror reported Monday. His mother and stepfather both confirmed the news on social media.
“Rest in peace my beloved son Raphael Coleman, aka Iggy Fox,” wrote Coleman’s mother, Liz Jensen, on Twitter Friday. “He died doing what he loved, working for the noblest cause of all. His family could not be prouder. Let’s celebrate all he achieved in his short life and cherish his legacy.”
Liz shared an essay that Coleman wrote for the organization Extinction Rebellion’s publication with the tweet in which the former actor explained that he decided to move on from wildlife conservation because “as an activist my voice could be far more influential than it had been as a scientist.”
Extinction Rebellion also confirmed his death with an update at the top of the essay.
“James ‘Iggy’ Fox died on 6 February,” the statement said. “He was 25, had given up a career in science to join XR and fought hard for the cause, especially for Indigenous rights. Iggy was a burning bright soul and he will be deeply missed by us all. Here is the article he wrote for issue 3 of The Hourglass newspaper.”
On Saturday, Coleman’s stepfather Carsten Jensen shared a lengthy and emotional Facebook post in light of his stepson’s death.
“To die young,” he began the post. “I guess there’s nothing that makes you see death as unfair and meaningless as when a young person dies. It’s life itself that’s sabotaged. It just happened to my wife, Liz, whose youngest son, Raph of only 25, died last Friday. He collapsed without prior health problems in the middle of a trip and could not be restored. I got to know raph when he was six years old, and we were so close.”
Jensen went on to describe Coleman as “old-wise” growing up, “extremely literate and loved to lecture adults with his always astonishing knowledge.”
“He was a child actor in the popular British Comedy Nanny McPhee, where he played himself with great talent, a little redhead boy who was always mixing explosive chemical ingredients. He had several roles, was rewarded and could have chosen a career as an actor. But he wanted to be a scientist, not to blow up something, as his figure in Nanny McPhee, but to save the planet,” Jensen continued, explaining that Coleman traveled “around the world all alone” at 18 years old.
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“He became a biologist, suited to a Buddhist monastery in Thailand, spent a year in Costa Rica’s jungle and six months in Indonesia, where he qualified for a certificate as a diver,” he wrote.
“But first and last, it was the exhibition rebellion that came to the life of the British climate activist group that brought London’s traffic to stop and within a few months of explosive hurry spread to 60 countries. Raph was one of the first and most active members. Under the name Iggy Fox, he controlled the group’s use of social media, spoke at demonstrations, and was arrested again and again. By April, he should have been in court accused of painting the Brazilian Embassy with red when the amazon jungle was standing in flames. He didn’t want a lawyer, but he wrote himself on his defense court when he died.”
“Death turned off raph, but it did not turn off the light that burned in him, because no one who has known him has been unaffected by it or will forget it, and that is how he lives on,” Jensen continued.
“When I think of Raph, I see something that will never die, a blunt of eternity, a light beam that lives forever in young people,” he wrote. “We believe that it is us, the older generations who have something to give the young people. We believe that we are the ones who pass the baton of life to them. But I think it’s the other way around. The young people remind us why we’re alive. They remind us of the purpose of life that this is the gift we must not in distraction until we have unpacked it.”
In another tweet on Saturday, Liz shared a photo with her son from an Extinction Rebellion event. “RIP Iggy Fox, aka Raphael Coleman,” she wrote, “he knew that we are all already in Heaven, right here on Earth.”