On January 14th, 2016, the death of the British actor Alan Rickman was confirmed by his family, who stated he was suffering cancer and died at 69, surrounded by friends and family.
Born in Acton west London in 1946 to a working-class family, he trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and began performing in plays after graduating, working in many productions with the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Easily recognized by his unique voice and persona, Rickman was admired and well-known for the diverse roles he had played, spanning from theatre, T.V., and film. He had also taken up directing in more recent years. He was especially famous for his portrayals of Hans Gruber in Die Hard and Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films. Other roles include the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Colonel Brandon in Sense of Sensibility, Harry in Love Actually, Alexander Dane in Galaxy Quest, and the voice of Absolem the Caterpillar in Alice and Wonderland and Alice through the Looking Glass, which is his final film to be released on May 27, 2016.
Rickman won many awards in his lifetime, including an Emmy Award, a Golden Globe, and a Screen Actors Guild for his role of Rasputin in Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny. He also won a BAFTA for his role in Robin Hood. Alan Rickman was never awarded an Oscar, but when asked about it in interviews, he harboured no hard feelings about it, saying, “Parts win prizes, not actors,” in an interview with the US television network IFC in 2008.
Many people expressed their grief online–fans and fellow actors alike. Author J.K. Rowling shared on her Twitter, “There are no words to express how shocked and devastated I am to hear of Alan Rickman’s death. He was a magnificent actor & a wonderful man.” On his Google+ page, Daniel Radcliffe wrote a brief piece, part of which said, “As an actor he was one of the first of the adults on Potter to treat me like a peer rather than a child. Working with him at such a formative age was incredibly important and I will carry the lessons he taught me for the rest of my life and career. Film sets and theatre stages are all far poorer for the loss of this great actor and man.”
On Thursday night, fans left flowers and letters on platform nine and three quarters in King’s Cross Station in London as tribute to the actor. In Universal Studio’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter, fans performed a eulogy for Rickman by drawing wands into the air, reminiscent of a poignant moment in the book series.
Many people drew parallels to the death of David Bowie, who was also British and died of cancer at the age of 69 the same week.