Alan Rickman, an incredible actor on stage and screen who touched countless hearts and inspired generations of professional actors, died in London at the age of 69. Rickman, according to reports, has been battling cancer. His death was confirmed by his family on Thursday morning.

We can spend weeks arguing over Alan Rickman’s definitive role. To some, he’ll forever be remembered as the oily, uber-confident Hans Gruber, the terrorist attempting to steal millions over the Christmas holiday who has his plan foiled by an uppity New York cop in the original Die Hard. Rickman’s personable yet maniacal portrayal of Gruber created the mold around which numerous screen villains tried to emulate in the years following the success of Die Hard. While countless films tried to steal the Die Hard formula, applying the "cop in a blank" template, the same amount of actors pretended to be Rickman playing Gruber. No one ever matched the originality that Rickman brought to the role.



Later, however, the amazing Alan Rickman earned praise (and a much larger fan base) when he joined the on-screen world of the Harry Potter universe, playing misunderstood Professor Severus Snape in all eight films adapted from the works of JK Rowling. Readers of the Potter series likely figured it would be impossible for one actor to convey the range of Snape over the course of the Potter story. But Rickman protected almost all of Severus Snap’s valuable secrets, playing the magical role of double agent throughout the course of the narrative so that you never really knew what side he was on, or how much you could truly trust him. It was a masterclass in acting, in an ensemble filled with some of the screen’s greatest actors.



And yet, that’s just scratching the surface of the work that Alan Rickman accomplished over the course of his amazing career. Remove Die Hard and the Harry Potter series from the actor’s resume, and you still have titles like Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Sense and Sensibility, Dogma, Galaxy Quest, Sweeney Todd, Bottle Shock and the wonderful, potentially underrated, Love Actually.

Needless to say, Alan Rickman’s contributions to the world of entertainment are immeasurable. Over the course of his illustrious career, Rickman earned one BAFTA (for Robin Hood), one Emmy, one Golden Globe but no Oscar nominations. We can only hope the Academy does something special in his honor later this month.

Alan Rickman, according to The Guardian, is survived by his spouse, Rima Horton, whom he married in 2012.

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