British actor and director Alan Rickman, who is well-known for his performances as Severus Snape in the Harry Potter franchise and as Hans Gruber in Die Hard , has died at 69.
His family released a statement that reads as follows:
“The actor and director Alan Rickman has died from cancer at the age of 69. He was surrounded by family and friends.”
The London-native worked on stage with the Royal Shakespeare Company and in UK television before he earned his first role in film as German terrorist Gruber, fighting against John McClane (Bruce Willis) in the 1988 film Die Hard.
He was only in Hollywood for two days before landing the role. When you’ve got it, you’ve got it!
This was one of the actor’s most memorable performances, but he told The Guardian in 2015 that he was close to not accepting it. “What the hell is this? I’m not doing an action movie,” he explained was his initial reaction.
But, after thinking deeply about the storyline, he changed his mind. “Every single black character in that film is positive and highly intelligent,” he said. “So, 28 years ago, that’s quite revolutionary, and quietly so.”
Rickman’s career lasted about four decades, but he never won an Oscar. He did win a BAFTA Award, however, for best supporting actor in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and was nominated three more times for his work in films such as Sense and Sensibility and Truly Madly Deeply.
He also picked up a Golden Globe in 1997 for best actor in HBO’s biopic Rasputin.
For a certain generation, Rickman is only known as a bullying wizard who is integral to the story of Harry Potter, Professor Snape. When he took the role in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in 2001, he really did not know much about the role.
“People thought I knew a lot, and I didn’t,” he said, according to CNN. “When I was asked to do it, there were only three books written.”
But Rickman eventually learned his role well and always recognized his place in the epic franchise. He explained this to the Los Angeles Times in 2011:
“It was a punctuation mark in my life every year, because I would be doing other things but always come back to that, and I was always aware of my place in the story even as other around me were not,” he said.
And producer David Heyman agreed. “He had a real understanding of the character, and now looking back, you can see there was always more going on there–a look, an expression, a sentiment–that hint at what is to come,” Heyman explained. “The shadow that he casts in these films is a huge one, and the emotion he conveys is immeasurable.
He always had a way of commanding the screen that made you want to be invested in his character and his story. He’s a huge loss to Hollywood and to fans everywhere.
However, fans still have a couple of more projects to look forward to. He did voice work for the upcoming Alice Through the Looking Glass and his film Eye in the Sky, which centers on drone warfare in Kenya, will be released in March.
Rickman is survived by his wife, Rima Horton.