Alan Rickman died on Thursday morning, aged 69, surrounded by family and friends after a short battle with pancreatic cancer.
To the younger generation he will always be Severus Snape, the incredible villainous teacher who appears bent on making the hero’s life a misery in the Harry Potter films. Others will remember him from movies as varied as Die Hard and Love Actually, or for his distinguished stage career.
He leaves his wife, Rima Horton, an arts patron and former Labour councillor. They met when he was 19 and had lived together for 35 years before marrying secretly in 2012.
Rickman, who was born into a working-class family in Hammersmith, began his acting career on the stage before graduating to Hollywood films.
He trained at Rada, worked with the RSC and won a series of awards including a Bafta and a Golden Globe, but this never phased him, explaining, “Parts win prizes, not actors”.
Celebrities of film and theatre paid tribute to the actor, who will star in two films later this year.
Tributes came from J K Rowling, the Harry Potter author, and the cast of the films, as well as politicians and actors from around the world.
Rowling said: “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.”
While Michael Gambon, who played Dumbledore, said: “Everybody loved Alan. He was always happy and fun and creative and very, very funny.”
Emma Thompson, a close friend who worked with him on Love Actually and Sense and Sensibility, said she had “kissed him goodbye” and spoke of a “moment of painful leave-taking”.
Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe said Rickman was “undoubtedly one of the greatest actors I will ever work with.
“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.”
Rickman’s death comes just days after the passing of pioneering singer and artist David Bowie.
The British actor kept his illness a secret and neighbours were shocked by his passing, describing him smiling and “looking well” only weeks before his death.
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