Actor Alan Rickman, most known for his role of enigmatic Professor Severus Snape across the 8 movies of the Harry Potter franchise, passed away early this morning at the age of 69 after a bout with cancer, his family confirms.
Rickman created many memorable roles after arriving in Hollywood – and I mean RIGHT after. Two days after coming to Los Angeles, he was offered his first film role as the criminal mastermind Hans Gruber opposite Bruce Willis in 1998’s Die Hard, and forever made his mark off the bat. But he wasn’t an inexperienced actor, being well known in London’s West End, originating the role of Vicomte de Valmont in Les Liaisons Dangereuses in 1985 and carried that role to Broadway in 1987. Theater still remained his “first love”.
He followed up Gruber with another villainous role as the Sheriff of Nottingham against Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves with such an amazing “love to hate” character performance – something that he seemed to excel at. His portrayal as the Sheriff was even parodied in the slapstick comedy Robin Hood: Men In Tights by Roger Rees.
Other roles that we remember him and his distinctive voice most for were Metatron in Dogma, Dr. Lazarus/Alexander Dane in Galaxy Quest, and Harry, the husband who makes a mistake in Love Actually opposite Emma Thompson, whom he worked with many times and directed The Winter Guest, and they were good friends. Thompson was apparently with him and his family when he died.
“Alan was my friend and so this is hard to write because I have just kissed him goodbye,” she wrote in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “What I remember most in this moment of painful leave-taking is his humour, intelligence, wisdom and kindness. His capacity to fell you with a look or lift you with a word. The intransigence which made him the great artist he was – his ineffable and cynical wit, the clarity with which he saw most things, including me, and the fact that he never spared me the view. I learned a lot from him. He was the finest of actors and directors. I couldn’t wait to see what he was going to do with his face next. I consider myself hugely privileged to have worked with him so many times and to have been directed by him.”
His Harry Potter co-star Daniel 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. I’m pretty sure he came and saw everything I ever did on stage both in London and New York. He didn’t have to do that. I know other people who’ve been friends with him for much much longer than I have and they all say “if you call Alan, it doesn’t matter where in the world he is or how busy he is with what he’s doing, he’ll get back to you within a day. … As an actor he was one of the first of the adults on Potter to treat me like a peer rather than a child. Working with him at such a formative age was incredibly important and I will carry the lessons he taught me for the rest of my life and career. Film sets and theatre stages are all far poorer for the loss of this great actor and man.”
Another Harry Potter co-star, Evanna Lynch, who played Luna Lovegood, posted a wonderful story about him on Facebook. And author J.K. Rowling said on Twitter: “There are no words to express how shocked and devastated I am to hear of Alan Rickman’s death. He was a magnificent actor & a wonderful man.”
By Grabthar’s Hammer, by the suns of Worvan, you shall be avenged.