Actor Alan Rickman, dead at 69, played heroes and villains

British actor Alan Rickman has died from cancer at 69. Though popular for playing antagonists in Hollywood blockbusters, his career included a diverse cast of characters.

Though known for playing antagonists, he's played a diverse cast of characters

British actor Alan Rickman died of cancer at age 69, after a wide-ranging career that began at the Royal Shakespeare Company and continued through the Die Hard and Harry Potter series. (Andrew Cowie)

British actor Alan Rickman has died from cancer at 69. Though popular for playing antagonists in Hollywood blockbusters, as in the Harry Potter series and Die Hard, his career included a diverse cast of characters. 

Alan Rickman was the terrorist and vault cracker Hans Gruber in 1988's Die Hard. (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment)

Years before he played opposite Bruce Willis as terrorist Hans Gruber, Rickman was a part of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

He periodically returned to the theatre throughout his life, even after his success on the big screen.

Alan Rickman played opposite Helen Mirren in a 1998 London production of Antony and Cleopatra as the two titular characters. (John Stillwell/PA via AP Photo)
Alan Rickman played Leonard, a lecturing professor, in the Broadway play Seminar, in New York back in 2012. (Jeremy Daniel/The Publicity Office/AP)

He acted aside Emma Thompson as the romantic lead Colonel Brandon in 1995's Sense and Sensibility. He also played her husband in Love Actually

Alan Rickman embraces actress Emma Thompson in front of the Golden Lion at the 54th Venice Cinema Festival in 1997. Rickman directed Thompson in the British entry to the festival, The Winter Guest. (Claudio Onorati/EPA)
Actors Laura Linney and Emma Thompson posed beside Alan Rickman at the premiere of the 2003 film Love Actually, where Rickman plays her cheating husband. (Albert Ferreira/Reuters)

Rickman had a deep, resonant voice, which often made him ideal for playing villains, as when he played the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. However, Rickman hadn't portrayed that kind of cackling antagonist since the 1991 film.

He's been a character actor, jumping into romantic and comedic roles when necessary. 

In 1999, Alan Rickman took on the role of actor Alexander Dane, who plays the alien Dr. Lazarus, in the comedic send-up of television space operas, Galaxy Quest. Tim Allen, centre, and Sigourney Weaver, right, joined him as part of the crew. (Dreamworks/Getty Images)

A year after Sense and Sensibility, he played Grigori Rasputin in the HBO television film Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny.

He won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for playing the enigmatic Russian advisor. 

Actresses present an Emmy to Alan Rickman for outstanding lead actor in a mini-series or special for his lead role in Rasputin, during the 48th Primetime Emmy Awards. (Vince Bucci/AFP/Getty Images)

Likely his most memorable role was Severus Snape in the Harry Potter film series. 

Snape is Hogwarts' potions teacher, with whom the young wizard has a difficult relationship. 

Professor Severus Snape was a Harry Potter antagonist throughout much of his time at Hogwarts, although the films slowly reveal a more complicated side of the character, as in this scene from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. (Warner Bros. Pictures/AP Photo)

As the series grew into eight films, Rickman got to see its actors grow up from children to young adults. 

Cast members of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban stand together before the 2004 preview in New York City. Rickman stands behind the teenage Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson, the series' three main actors. (Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images)
Seven years later Alan Rickman joins the same actors, plus Tom Felton and Matthew Lewis at the New York premiere of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2, the final film in the series. (Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)

Rickman's last widely released film was A Little Chaos, which he co-wrote and directed and in which he played King Louis XIV. He's also recently appeared in Eye in the Sky, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, though his final film will be Alice Through the Looking Glass, to be released in May. 

Alan Rickman arrives for the screening of A Little Chaos as a director and actor for the closing of the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival. (Warren Toda/EPA)


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