Film News: Alan Rickman, Snape in Harry Potter, Dies at 69

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LONDON – He lived in a show age when a classically trained British actor could also portray a German villain, an indecisive husband and one of the most memorable characters in the Harry Potter series. Alan Rickman was all of these, and he did it with a signature style. Rickman died in London at age 69 on January 14, 2016.

Alan Rickman
Alan Rickman as Severus Snape
Photo credit: Warner Home Video

Alan Rickman was born in London, and his early college background was in art and design, while pursuing drama on the side. He worked for a few years before auditioning with the Royal Academy of Drama in 1972. After graduating, he worked his way up the British stage, both in the Royal Court Theatre and Royal Shakespeare Theatre. He was doing television and narrator parts when his big break came in 1988 as Hans Gruber in “Die Hard.” Gruber was named the 46th greatest villain in film history on an American Film Institute list.

He took on a series of different roles in movies, such as the Sheriff of Nottingham (“Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves”), a TV alien (“Galaxy Quest”) and a husband who couldn’t decide whether to have an affair (“Love Actually”). But his legend was sealed in 2001, when he took on the character of Severus Snape in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” Rickman was perfect as the duplicitous wizard and instructor at Hogwarts, and he played the role for the entire film series.

Alan Rickman
Alan Rickman Makes a Memorable Exit as Hans Gruber in ‘Die Hard’
Photo credit: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

He had lived with his partner Rima Horton since 1977, and they married in 2012. Alan Rickman died of cancer in his home city of London.

On acting, he said, “I approach every part I’m asked to do and decide to do from exactly the same angle: who is this person, what does he want, how does he attempt to get it, and what happens to him when he doesn’t get it, or if he does?” And also reflected, “I do take my work seriously and the way to do that is not to take yourself too seriously.”

Sources for this article from Wikipedia and Alan Rickman, 1946-2016. senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Writer, Editorial Coordinator

© 2016 Patrick McDonald,

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