One of the best loved British actors of all time, Alan Rickman, has passed away at his home in London. Rickman was 69, and had been suffering from cancer. The news of his passing was confirmed by the actor’s family.
Although he turned to professional acting fairly late in life, Rickman had a phenomenal career spanning thirty years, and delivered some tremendous performances both on stage and screen. He first came to the public’s attention in 1988, playing the role of Hans Gruber in Die Hard. From there more film roles followed, but it was his starring role as Jamie in Truly, Madly, Deeply and then his turn as the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves that really cemented his status as a sublimely talented actor.
Rickman was noted for his diction, which was incomparable to anyone else. His languid delivery gave him the ability to play wry humor just as well as a villainous role, and also romantic leads. Rickman worked with Emma Thompson a number of times – first as Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility (1994), which Thompson scripted and also starred in, then the pair reunited to play husband and wife in Love, Actually (2003) and former lovers in The Song of Lunch, a 2010 drama for the BBC. Rickman also directed Thompson and her mother, Phyllida Law in The Winter Guest (1995). The drama marked his directorial debut.
Rickman also gave a notable and critically acclaimed performance as the titular role in Rasputin in 1996, a role for which he won an Emmy and a Golden Globe. Other film roles of note include Eamon De Valera in Michelle Collins (1996), The Metatron in Dogma (1999), disenchanted actor Alexander Dane in the good-natured Star Trek parody Galaxy Quest, Lord Shabandar in the 2012 remake of Gambit and of course, Severus Snape in Harry Potter. Most recently, Rickman had returned to voice the part of the Blue Caterpillar for Alice Through the Looking Glass.
Rickman’s work on stage was also highly praised, and he was nominated for a Tony for his role in Les Liaisons Dangereuses. Other notable roles included playing Mark Antony opposite Helen Mirren in Antony and Cleopatra, the title role in Ibsen’s John Gabriel Borkman, his voice role as the depressed robot Marvin in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and many, many more.
Of all his work, it was perhaps his work on Harry Potter which stood out the most. As Severus Snape, Rickman brought to life one of J.K. Rowling’s most iconic characters. Though Rickman disliked the idea that he was typecast as a villain, few could argue that he was not perfectly cast as Snape. His was the villain we all loved to hate and hated to love. Rowling has previously described Snape as “a gray area“; that is to say, viewers should feel conflicting emotions over his role in Harry Potter’s life. Rickman more than managed to bring this out on screen, and his performance (rightly) gained him a whole new legion of fans. As Snape he was intimidating, infuriating, funny and completely captivating to watch.
A truly unique and incredible talent, Rickman will be sorely missed on stage and screen. He is survived by his wife, Rima Horton.
R.I.P. Alan Sidney Patrick Rickman: 21 February 1946 – 14 January 2016