Legendary stage and screen actor Alan Rickman has died from cancer, his family announced Thursday. He was 69.
Vox reports that Rickman, a well-known maestro of stage acting, performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company and also on Broadway. His skillful acting and powerful performance as Valmont in Christopher Hampton’s “Les Liaisons Dangereuses” earned him a Tony nomination.
His arrival to the world of acting was quite late; and to the world of cinemas, even later. A graphic designer as a young adult, he was 26 when he entered the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. His maiden role, when he was in his early 40s, was of the villain Hans Gruber in Die Hard (1988). He worked on the stage and cinema through the 1980s, delighting audiences with his acting.
However, there is a lot said, and yet isn’t enough, about his role as the tragic hero of the massively popular Harry Potter series. To those raised with Harry Potter novels written by J.K. Rowling, Rickman will always be remembered as Hogwarts professor Severus Snape. WIRED says Tim Roth was the original choice for the role, but he decided to go with Tim Burton’s remake of Planet of the Apes. The Harry Potter franchise saw legendary actors, including Michael Gambon, Maggie Smith, Gary Oldman, and Robbie Coltrane among others playing the characters of the lovable Harry Potter universe; and while many fans were disappointed over the changes made in the movies, there is little criticism in Rickman’s portrayal of Snape.
Daniel Radcliffe, who portrayed Harry Potter, described Rickman as “one of the greatest actors” he has had an opportunity to work with. On a social media post, Radcliffe wrote, “Alan Rickman is undoubtedly one of the greatest actors I will ever work with. He is also, one of the loyalest and most supportive people I’ve ever met in the film industry. He was so encouraging of me both on set and in the years post-Potter.”
Rickman wrote a letter to Empire Magazine after his part in the series was wrapped up. The letter, first published in 2011, said, “I have just returned from the dubbing studio where I spoke into a microphone as Severus Snape for absolutely the last time. On the screen were some flashback shots of Daniel, Emma and Rupert from ten years ago. They were 12. I have also recently returned from New York, and while I was there, I saw Daniel singing and dancing (brilliantly) on Broadway. A lifetime seems to have passed in minutes” (You can read the entire letter here).
Nevertheless, he remained unaffected that his list achievements and accomplishments did not include winning an Oscar. In 2008, the veteran actor said, “Parts win prizes, not actors.”