Remember Alan Rickman, a force in theater, film and television

To a younger generation of fans, he was the black-caped dark arts teacher Snape, who spoke in a perpetual hiss and sneer as he spoke to Harry Potter.

But for many others, British actor Alan Rickman was a famous force in theater, film and television for more than 30 years. Polymath, he received BAFTA awards for portraying legendary figures (such as the villainous Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves), garnered cult worship for playing the villains (Bruce Willis’ nemesis, Hans Gruber in Die hard and Judge Turpin in Sweeney Todd: Fleet Street Barber Demon). Despite his comfort in heavier roles, Rickman was not afraid to go stupid, as he did when he voiced King Philip on the animated TV show. king of the hill.

The baritone actor died in London on Thursday at the age of 69, The Guardian first reported. In a statement provided to the BBC, Rickman’s family confirmed that he died from a battle with cancer and that he was “surrounded by family and friends” when he passed away.

Rickman, a native Londoner, worked as a dresser for several actors, including Sir Nigel Hawthorne, before cutting his teeth into theatrical roles with the Royal Shakespeare Company. He turned heads for the first time in 1986, as the handsome Valmont in the production of Dangerous relationships (inspiration for, among other films, Cruel intentions), which also earned him a Tony nomination. He would later appear alongside Helen Mirren as Mark Antony in the Olivier Theater production of Cleopatra, and would be nominated for another Tony for the play Private life.

He collaborated with the current editor-in-chief of The Guardian Katharine Viner to compile and conduct the remarkable piece My name is Rachel Corrie, which is investigating the death of a student protesting the actions of the Israel Defense Forces in Gaza.

Rickman also had an illustrious film career, which began in 1988 with his turn in the action film. Die hard. Just before the most distinctive role of his career, as Professor Severus Snape in the film adaptation of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter franchise in 2001, he played a satirical version of a Shakespearean actor turned sci-fi star in the movie. Galaxy Quest. For his last role, he voiced the blue caterpillar in the upcoming animated film Alice through the looking glass, to be released later this year.

Rickman’s partner since 1965, economics professor and Labor Party adviser Rima Horton, had been a friend since adolescence. The two secretly married in 2012, according to People. A virulent political activist, Rickman once said that he was born a “full member of the Labor Party”.

Rickman considered acting a serious profession and responsibility. “I want to swim both ways at the same time,” he once said. “Desire for success, court failure.”

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