Alan Rickman's characters were memorable and indelible

Alan Rickman as Severus Snape in the "Harry Potter" films.
Alan Rickman as Severus Snape in the "Harry Potter" films.
Published Jan. 14, 2016

Decorated British actor Alan Rickman, with the slow, deep voice that made him an uncanny villain, has died at age 69.

Rickman's family said the actor, who broke into the profession in 1985, died after a battle with cancer, according to the Associated Press.

Here are a few of his best-known roles:

Warner Bros.

From 2001 through 2011, Rickman portrayed the cold, clever professor at Hogwart's School of Witchcraft and Wizardry who was constantly waiting around every corner to discipline young Harry Potter. Often cruel without obvious reason, seemingly partial to the Slytherin House and blatantly insulting, Snape had a complex back story, perfectly concealed by Rickman.

Twentieth Century Fox

The chief villain of the 1988 Bruce Willis classic Die Hard, he's calculating, cold, elegant — classic Rickman. Gruber, delightfully evil in finely-tailored suit, is an internationally-feared German terrorist, even by Willis' John McClane, who said Gruber was the worst threat he'd ever encountered.

Universal Studios

Rickman's turn in the 2003 film Love Actually wasn't exactly villainous. But Harry, the director of a British design agency, gets no love when he turns a wandering eye toward his secretary as his self-sacrificing wife cheerfully keeps their family going. When he's caught though, Harry appears genuinely crestfallen and apologetic.


In 1990's Truly, Madly, Deeply, Rickman played a ghost whose girlfriend is overcome with grief after his death. He returns to her in his new form, but brings along behaviors that infuriate her. In the end, when Nina is torn between loving Jaime and an attraction to a new man, he leaves and lets Nina move on.

Columbia Pictures Corp.

An unlikely romantic lead, Rickman played the worthy, rich suitor of Marianne Dashwood in 1995's Sense and Sensibility, based on the Jane Austen novel. Considered an old, uninspired bachelor by Dashwood, he's polite, quiet and stoic, but he gets his girl in the end.

In the Kevin Smith film Dogma, Rickman portrayed the angel Metatron, who comes to earth to ask Bethany to fulfill a mission. He explains that he is "as anatomically impaired as a Ken doll," because angels have no genitalia. Here's a scene from the movie. WARNING: The language is graphic.

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