Actor, Director Alan Rickman Dies at 69

Alan Rickman Dead
Courtesy of Megan Ridgwell/racingfotos.c/REX/Shutterstock

LONDON — British actor and director Alan Rickman, whose films included the “Harry Potter” franchise, “Die Hard” and “Truly Madly Deeply,” died of cancer in London on Thursday. He was 69.

His Hollywood roles included Severus Snape in the Harry Potter movies, which earned him a legion of new fans. Rickman brought the beloved book character to life, carrying him through the saga in which his role ended up being pivotal to Potter’s fate. He recently completed “Alice Through the Looking Glass,” in which he delivered the voice of the Blue Caterpillar.

Rickman was little known in the United States before his fascinating turn as vaguely German villain Hans Gruber in John McTiernan’s “Die Hard”; Gruber’s motives at first seem relatively idealistic until Bruce Willis’ John McClane realizes that the takeover of Nakatomi Plaza is just a high-stakes robbery. As McClane single-handedly destroys the plot, Rickman’s Gruber watched in delicious disbelief. The extraordinary success of the film elevated the careers of everyone involved, including Rickman.

See More: Daniel Radcliffe, J.K. Rowling Pay Tribute to Alan Rickman

As an actor, Rickman won a Golden Globe and an Emmy for TV biopic “Rasputin,” and a Bafta for “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves,” in which he played villain the Sheriff of Nottingham. He was Bafta-nominated for “Michael Collins,” “Sense and Sensibility” and “Truly Madly Deeply.”

In his review of “Sense and Sensibility,” Roger Ebert wrote: “The next man to appear is Col. Brandon, played by that indispensable villain Alan Rickman, who is not a villain this time but seems to be, with his dark, brooding air and the speaking style of a sentimental hangman.”

Anthony Minghella’s “Truly, Madly, Deeply” was a supernatural love story akin to “Ghost.” Rickman’s character has died, but he has never left the side of Juliet Stevenson’s character. The Washington Post said: “Rickman gives a wonderfully sleepy performance. The afterlife has left him tired and pale. His speech is slow, his lips are cold and he blames the government for just about everything.”

Rickman won over many millennials as the cheating husband in “Love Actually” while also starring in those comedies “Galaxy Quest” and “Dogma.”

He made his directorial debut with 1997’s “The Winter Guest,” which played in competition in Venice, and also directed 2014’s “A Little Chaos,” which ran at the Toronto Film Festival. On stage he directed the controversial play “My Name Is Rachel Corrie.”

Rickman is survived by his wife, Rima Horton, whom he married last year. The couple had lived together since 1977.

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  1. cadavra says:

    Hate to nitpick, but with all-British casts and mostly-British crews (and based on novels written by a Brit), the Harry Potter films hardly merit the designation “Hollywood.”

    • Panko1 says:

      But all the money that was used to make the Harry Potter films came from Warner Bros. Hollywood studios.

      • cadavra says:

        Where the money comes from does not dictate a film’s “nationality.” Warners won the bidding war for the rights, but a UK company could just have easily done so. China has co-financed several U.S. franchise pictures, but that doesn’t make them “Chinese.”

        And to nitpick even further, Warners is in Burbank!

  2. Patrick Holm says:

    Since Die Hard a huge fan. His voice, his eyes, his irresistable charm (playing a villain or not), in short, his presence on screen and on stage will be surely missed.

  3. Daryle says:

    So sad….may he rest in peace. Besides the films noted above, I really enjoyed him in “Love, Actually, too.

  4. Daniel says:

    One of the best voices in cinema. A dry comedy without being a comedian. A calm and charged energy simultaneously.
    Condolenses to his survivng family.

  5. Gabe says:

    I was shocked hearing this

  6. Carol N Little says:

    RIP Alan Rickman. You were one of my favorite actors. I saw Truly, Madly Deeply several times. I thought you were very sexy and endearing at the same time. I will miss you terribly.

  7. another legend gone…..and one of my favorite actors…..RIP dear Alan Rickman

  8. Dave J. says:

    Played many iconic villain roles, and may Alan Rickman rest in peace!

  9. Most certainly way past the time for devotion of massive funds to end this unacceptable disease.

  10. Amazing talent! Thank you Alan Rickman for the great characters only a genius like you would have been able to play. My condolences to his beloved wife Rima Horton

  11. Phil Ayling says:

    He was a great actor. BTW Variety, no matter how the funding was put together describing Harry Potter solely as a Hollywood film is rhetorical overkill.

  12. Kristy says:

    gonna miss him he was my favorite british actor growing up, he delivered severus snape to everyone brilliantly and he had a voice like no other. you had a brave fight alan rest in peace.

  13. Toni says:

    There’s that “battle with cancer” metaphor again. I hate it. It implies that the person who died of cancer is a loser. May I remind everyone here that there is no cure for cancer? If someone died of a heart attack, would we shake our head and say that they had lost their “brave fight” with unseen cardiovascular issues? Would we comfort someone at their grandfather’s funeral by telling them that he had simply lost his courageous war with Alzheimer’s? If someone commits suicide, do we say they lost their brave battle with mental illness? So why the “battle-war-fight” metaphors for cancer and the “brave-courageous” metaphors for people with who have died from it?


My husband died of cancer in 2003 – he hated the endless “win-lose-war-fight” metaphors. He had a rare and aggressive form of cancer that he knew would kill him, and its capacity to take his life was not within his (or his doctor’s) span of control. There was nothing he or anyone else could do to beat his death sentence, and he was adamant that his funeral/obituary make no mention of his “bravery” for fighting some imaginary “battle.”


Rickman was a masterful actor, and the favorite villain of many. He died of cancer, and we’ll miss him and remember him fondly.

  14. He charmed his way into the hearts of many, many fans who will miss him. If you missed “A Song of Lunch” with Rickman and Emma Thompson I recommend it.

  15. Lisa says:

    That’s too bad. There was something very intriguing about him. May he rest in peace.

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