Prominent British actor and theatre artiste Alan Rickman, popularly known for playing Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series, passed away on January 14 aged 69. He had been suffering from cancer.
Rickman was born in Acton, in west London, and attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. He became known to a wider audience in Britain when he played the Vicomte de Valmont in Christopher Hampton’s adaptation of Les Liaisons Dangereuses in 1986, and to the Western audience as the villain Hans Gruber in Die Hard in 1988.
He was also involved in a plethora of political activities in his lifetime and considered himself a born Labour-Party supporter. His wife Rima Horton was an economist and a Labour Party councillor – they’d been together since 1965 and married in 2012.
In 2005, Rickman and The Guardian‘s current editor-in-chief, Katherine Viner, scripted the acclaimed play My Name is Rachel Corrie based on the writings of the titular character, who was an American activist killed by an Israeli bulldozer in 2003.
Though he never won an Academy Award, Rickman was celebrated for his versatility and presence on the stage and for the breadth of characters he assayed in a career spanning almost three decades, ranging from lovers to villains to kings. His acting was often marked by an antagonistic indolence – exemplified by his portraiture of Snape in the seven Harry Potter films.
His other acclaimed performances include the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991), Jamie in Truly, Madly, Deeply (1991), and Éamon de Valera in Michael Collins (1996). He has also directed a few films, the Emma-Thompson-starrer The Winter Guest (1997) standing out as arguably the best among them.
Two films featuring Rickman are set to be released i 2016: Eye in the Sky, in which he plays an army general, and Alice Through the Looking Glass, for which he’s voiced Abselom the Caterpillar. The latter was filmed last.