It’s a sad week for British artists this week, as following the death of David Bowie it’s been announced that Alan Rickman has died, aged 69. A statement from his family revealed that he had been suffering from cancer, which sadly took his life.
While he didn’t make his movie debut until 1988 as Hans Gruber in Die Hard (but what a debut), he had already appeared in several British TV shows and received massive amounts of praise (including a Tony nomination) for his stage work. Indeed it was while playing a scheming character in Dangerous Liaisons on Broadway that he came to the attention of producer Joel Silver, who cast him in Die Hard.
After going up against John McClane, he became one of Britain’s most respected screen actors, thanks to films such as Truly Madly Deeply, Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves (for which he won a BAFTA), Sense & Sensibility, Galaxy Quest, Sweeney Todd and Love Actually. Of course, he also found a legion of fans with his pitch perfect portrayal of Severus Snape in the Harry Potter movies.
As well as acting he directed two movies, 1997’s The Winter Guest and 2014’s A Little Chaos, both of which he also provided the screenplay for.
Unsurprisingly news of his passing has been greeted with sadness by those who knew and admired him, including the younger cast of Harry Potter, many of whom noted that despite the villainous characters he often played on screen, he was one of the most generous and influential people they knew as they grew up.
Daniel Radcliffe summed it up with a post on Google+, where he 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.’
‘People create perceptions of actors based on the parts they played so it might surprise some people to learn that contrary to some of the sterner (or downright scary) characters he played, Alan was extremely kind, generous, self-deprecating and funny. And certain things obviously became even funnier when delivered in his unmistakable double-bass.
‘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.’