His voice was unmistakable, his acting was flawless, and his reputation as one of the nicest men in Hollywood stood strong. Alan Rickman, who worked on stage and screen and behind the camera for over 30 years, died in London at 69. His death was confirmed this morning by his family who said he was "surrounded by family and friends" as he lost his battle to cancer.
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He stood apart from other actors because of his tone, but also from the way he could control his facial muscles. He was best known as his role as Professor Snape in the Harry Potter films.
Some of the cast and crew from those movies were the first to reach out on social media.
Daniel Radcliffe, who played Harry Potter, wrote that Rickman was “one of the greatest actors I will ever work with” as well as “one of the loyalest and most supportive people I’ve ever met in the film industry”.
JK Rowling, who wrote the Harry Potter books, said: “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”, while Michael Gambon, who played Dumbledore, said: “Everybody loved Alan. He was always happy and fun and creative and very, very funny.”
The actor, who was never nominated for an Oscar, though certainly deserved them, seemed to overshadow the nominations.
He shot to fame when he starred as Hans Gruber, Bruce Willis's sardonic adversary in Die Hard, a role he won after two days in Los Angeles in 1988. He was 41.
He was also known from his roles in Truly, Madly, Deeply, Sense and Sensibility, Love, Actually, and The Song of Lunch.
Rickman was also an accomplished direction. In 1995 he directed Emma Thompson and her mother in the acclaimed Scottish drama The Winter Guest.
Thompson – who said she had “just kissed him goodbye” – wrote:
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.
He was the ultimate ally. In life, art and politics. I trusted him absolutely. He was, above all things, a rare and unique human being and we shall not see his like again.
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According to BBC, Rickman's future roles that are still to be seen include Eye in the Sky, a thriller about drone warfare that won rave reviews at the Toronto film festival last year, and repeating his voiceover as Absolem the Caterpillar in Alice Through the Looking Glass, also due for release later this year.