British actor Alan Rickman, now best known for his iconic role in the “Harry Potter” series, passed away at age 69, according to a statement by his family. He had been struggling with cancer.
As The Guardian’s Michael Billington noted, Rickman “was part of a generation that honed its craft in regional and fringe theatre before finding fame in film and television.” The actor studied at London’s Latymer school and at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art before bursting on the scene in the late 1970s at Birmingham, Sheffield, and at William Shakespeare’s famous theater, Stratford-upon-Avon.
Rickman’s film pedigree proved no less impressive. In 1991, he portrayed the slimy Sheriff George of Nottingham in “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.” He played leading roles in such household films as “Die Hard” (1988), “Galaxy Quest” (1999) and “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street” (2007).
Nevertheless, Rickman is best known for one of the most complex heroes to grace modern film—the mysterious Professor Snape in “Harry Potter.” Rickman brought his classic flourish, restraint, and mystique to the role, nearly stealing the show throughout eight movies.
“Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling expressed the sorrow of all the bereaved 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.
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) January 14, 2016