Alan Rickman: From 'Die Hard' to 'Harry Potter,' A Look Back at His Most Memorable Roles
By Emily Krauser
Family, friends and fans are mourning the loss of Alan Rickman, the beloved British actor who died at 69 in London after battling cancer.
Condolences immediately poured in from across the globe after his death was reported on Thursday. Rickman was one of those actors who not only seemed to pop up in every movie you love, but also managed to steal every scene. He was a big presence, but not one that was bigger than life, despite his oft-cast role as the villain.
His Harry Potter co-star, Daniel Radcliffe, said it best in his tribute to Rickman when he wrote, "People create perceptions of actors based on the parts they played so it might surprise some people to learn that contrary to some of the sterner(or downright scary) characters he played, Alan was extremely kind, generous, self-deprecating and funny. And certain things obviously became even funnier when delivered in his unmistakable double-bass."
We're taking a look back at eight of the most memorable roles portrayed by the man with that "unmistakable" bass.
1. Professor Severus Snape, Harry Potter franchise
To many Harry Potter fans, Snape and Rickman were intertwined, making this real-life death after the professor's demise in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, a deeply painful blow. The Emmy and Golden Globe winner portrayed the series’ mysterious, lost anti-hero with great complexity and depth, and it's only right to remember him with one of Snape's most powerful lines: "Always."
2. Hans Gruber, Die Hard
If any one person can convince you of the idea that its never too late, it should be Rickman: Though he was a veteran theater actor, his turn as Hans Gruber marked his feature film debut -- at age 42. His accent may be implacable (British? German? British-German? No one really knows), his portrayal as the German villain trying to overtake Nakatomi Plaza on Christmas was one of the highlights in the classic flick that never took itself too seriously.
3. Harry, Love Actually
It was beyond refreshing to see Rickman in a romantic comedy, as the chameleon was so accustomed to playing villains -- not that his role in this rom-com to end all rom-coms was exactly a hero. Yet despite an affair with his secretary (seriously, who cheats on Emma Thompson?!), Rickman's role as Harry in the film's most depressing storyline felt layered and multi-dimensional. Plus, hating Rickman is never an option.
Rickman literally played the voice of God. This is an archangel for the ages, with the perfect amount of blunt sass to boot. Just look at the glorious wings on this seraphim:
5. Alexander Dane, Galaxy Quest
It was meant as a joke when the emcee of an on-screen Galaxy Quest fan convention declared of Alexander, "That guy can act," but the line translates as truth when it comes to Rickman himself. In fact, some of the best lines in this Star Trek spoof were delivered by Rickman, who plays an actor not only completely over uttering his iconic line from the faux sci-fi series, but for the hoopla surrounding his alien role as well.
6. Sheriff George of Nottingham, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
It's pretty impressive how such a lovable man managed to play so many sinister, malignant characters, but Rickman pulled every one of his turns off like the pro that he was -- even in campy movies that are completely, utterly ridiculous. Bless his heart for giving us this BAFTA-winning performance, considering that last year he even admitted to The U.K.'s The Times that not only was the script "terrible," but he had two friends help give him “some good lines” during a rogue meeting at a Pizza Express (a chain restaurant in the U.K.).
7. Jamie, Truly Madly Deeply
Just take a moment to let the joy of Rickman belting out a song wash over you.
This beyond-the-grave movie will most likely take on even more meaning now than it did when it was released in 1990 -- Rickman portrayed Jamie, a ghost who returns from the after-life to visit his heartbroken girlfriend, Nina.
Though one of his smaller roles, his turn as Colonel Brandon in 1995's big-screen adaption of the time-honored novel features a scaled-back but pretty perfect Rickman as his character tries to win Kate Winslet’s Marianne. It was also the first of many collaborations with his frequent co-star and good friend, Thompson.
Many of Rickman's co-stars in these films, including Radcliffe, Thompson, Emma Watson and Tim Allen shared their condolences along with fond memories of the formidable actor. Hear some of these tributes in the video below.