By: Nick Bergeman ~Staff Writer~
English actor and director Alan Rickman died last Thursday, Jan. 14, at a London hospital from pancreatic cancer. He had been diagnosed last August after suffering a stroke but kept his terminal diagnosis from public knowledge, much like recently deceased English entertainer David Bowie. Both were 69 years old.
In a career of highlights, Rickman may be best remembered for his widely beloved role as Potions Master Severus Snape in the film adaptations of the Harry Potter series. Critics and fans alike praised Rickman’s performance as Snape for the entire length of the film series.
An outpouring of tributes came from former costars and fans after news broke of his death, including a memorial set up under the “Platform 9¾” sign at the London King’s Cross railway station, in reference to his role in the Harry Potter films.
Rickman began his career as a stage actor, including work with the Royal Shakespeare Company. He first gained prominence for originating the role of Vicomte de Valmont in Christopher Hampton’s adaptation of “Les Liaisons Dangereuses,” for which he was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play in 1987.
After several stage and television roles, Rickman was cast in his first feature film at 42 years old in 1988 as villain Hans Gruber in “Die Hard,” opposite Bruce Willis. The film has come to be widely considered one of the greatest action movies ever made, and Rickman’s character Hans Gruber was named by the American Film Institute as the 46th best villain in film history.
Gruber became the first in a string of roles as villainous characters for Rickman, including as the Sheriff of Nottingham in “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” (for which he won a BAFTA for Best Supporting Actor), the title character in the HBO biopic “Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny” (for which he won a Golden Globe and Emmy for Best Actor in a TV movie) and Judge Turpin in Tim Burton’s adaptation of “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.”
In addition to various other acting credits on stage and screen, Rickman enjoyed a successful career as a director and writer, including on the films “The Winter Guest” in 1997 and “A Little Chaos” in 2015.
Besides his entertainment career, Rickman will be remembered for his commitment to various charities and benevolent causes, such as being honorary president of the International Performer Aid’s Trust.
Rickman finished two films before his death that have yet to be released. Those two are “Eye in the Sky,” a thriller to open in the U.S. on April 1, 2016, and “Alice Through the Looking Glass,” the sequel to the 2010 “Alice in Wonderland” to be released May 27, 2016. Though gone, Rickman’s influence will continue to be felt through his performances. Always.