British actor Alan Rickman, famous for his roles in Die Hard and the Harry Potter films, has died at the age of 69.
The beloved star, with a career spanning more than three decades, lost his battle with cancer on Thursday morning (local time) in London.
“The actor and director Alan Rickman has died from cancer at the age of 69.
“He was surrounded by family and friends,” a statement from the family said.
With his aquiline features and cultured – if often menacing – English accent, he became one of Britain’s best-known actors of stage and screen over the past 30 years with a career stretching from the Royal Shakespeare Company to sci-fi spoof Galaxy Quest.
Click here to see the actor’s impressive list of films
A stage and screen actor, and director, he was well known for his portrayal of Hollywood villains, including Harry Potter’s Severus Snape, Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and – the role that propelled him to on-screen fame – Hans Gruber in Die Hard.
He was respected and admired among his co-stars and Hollywood celebrities, revealed in earnest tributes from friends.
“Alan was my friend and so this is hard to write because I have just kissed him goodbye,” said British actress Emma Thompson, who appeared with Rickman in a number of films including Love Actually.
“He was the finest of actors and directors. I couldn’t wait to see what he was going to do with his face next.
“He was, above all things, a rare and unique human being and we shall not see his like again.”
Harry Potter author JK Rowling tweeted: “There are no words to express how shocked and devastated I am to hear of Alan Rickman’s death. He was a magnificent actor and a wonderful man.”
Meanwhile, Die Hard’s Bruce Willis, who appeared alongside Rickman in the 1988 film, said: “Another dear friend gone … Yippe Kaye aye dear chap. We will always have Nakatomi.”
‘A brilliant actor and a principled man’
Rickman was born in Acton, in west London, on February 21 in 1946, and was awarded a Golden Globe, an Emmy, a BAFTA – the British equivalent of an Oscar – and a Screen Actors Guild Award in his time on screen.
He was raised by his mother after his father died when he was just eight years old, growing up with an older brother, and younger brother and sister.
Even from a young age, his artistic talent shone through.
As well as an affinity for exploring the nuances of complex characters, he also excelled at calligraphy and watercolour painting, and even had a stint as a graphic designer for a newspaper.
Surprisingly, he decided against studying drama and told Time Out magazine in 1986 it “wasn’t considered the sensible thing to do at 18”.
It was with the Royal Shakespeare Company, in their 1985 production of Christopher Hampton’s adaptation of Les Liaisons Dangereuses, that he stepped into the spotlight.
Rickman wasn’t only present in the entertainment sphere, and was politically minded.
He was actively involved in the left-wing Labour Party, along with his wife, Rima Horton – a Labour councillor and his partner of more than 50 years.
“Brilliant actor, deeply principled man. My heart goes out to Rima and his family,” Ed Miliband, Labour’s former leader, said on Twitter.
A graduate of London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Rickman got his big break appearing the Broadway version of Les Liaisons Dangereuses in the mid-1980s.
– with AAP