Former Royal Shakespeare Company actor and screen star, Alan Rickman has died after losing a battle against cancer. He was 69.
Rickman’s big break was his role as the Vicomte de Valmont in the play Les Liaisons Dangereuses in 1985, for which he was nominated for a Tony Award.
Rickman gained wider notice for his film performances as Hans Gruber in Die Hard and Severus Snape in the Harry Potter film series.
Rickman was born in Acton, London and won a scholarship to Latymer Upper School in London, where he became involved in drama. He went on to Chelsea College of Art and Design and then the Royal College of Art before working as a graphic designer for the Notting Hill Herald.
Three years later he wrote to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) asking for an audition and was awarded a place. While there, he studied Shakespeare’s works and supported himself by working as a dresser for Nigel Hawthorne and Sir Ralph Richardson.
He left after winning several prizes, including the Emile Littler Prize, the Forbes Robertson Prize and the Bancroft Gold Medal.
After graduating from RADA, Rickman worked extensively with British repertory and experimental theatre groups in productions including Chekhov’s The Seagull and Snoo Wilson’s The Grass Widow at the Royal Court Theatre.
In 1978, he performed with the Court Drama Group, gaining parts in Romeo and Juliet and A View from the Bridge, among other plays.
While working with the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) he was cast in As You Like It.
Rickman had also directed The Winter Guest at London’s Almeida Theatre in 1995 and the film version of the same play in 1996 starring Emma Thompson and her real life mother Phyllida Law.
He also compiled (with Katharine Viner) and directed the play My Name Is Rachel Corrie in April 2005 at the Royal Court Theatre, London, and won the Theatre Goers’ Choice Awards for Best Director.
In 2011, Rickman opened in Seminar, a new play by Theresa Rebeck, at the John Golden Theatre on Broadway. Rickman won the Broadway.com Audience Choice Award for Favorite Actor in a Play and was nominated for a Drama League Award.
Rickman’s film roles included Severus Snape in the Harry Potter franchise; the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Jamie in Truly, Madly, Deeply, Colonel Brandon in Ang Lee’s 1995 film Sense and Sensibility, Harry in Love Actually, and P. L. O’Hara in An Awfully Big Adventure.
More recently, he played Judge Turpin in the film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s musical of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
In 1995, he was awarded the Golden Globe, Emmy Award and Screen Actors Guild Award for his portrayal of Rasputin in Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny.
Rickman won a BAFTA Award, a Golden Globe Award, an Emmy Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award.