Wednesday 26 October 2016

Ultimate suave bad guy leaves the stage after cancer battle

Alan Rickman, who died yesterday
Alan Rickman, who died yesterday

Alan Rickman, who has died of cancer at the age of 69, will be warmly remembered by his legions of fans as the ultimate on-screen "baddie".

With his languid voice and sharp features, Rickman was well-equipped to play villainous characters in films including Harry Potter, Die Hard and Rasputin - but he was also a consummate stage actor.

Rickman gained legions of fans after he took the role of potions master Professor Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films, playing the boy wizard's nemesis who ultimately turned out to have his best interests at heart.

But by the time he starred in the first Harry Potter film in 2001, he was already well-known for his brilliance in darker roles.

He first shot to global acclaim in 1988 when he starred as Hans Gruber, Bruce Willis's adversary in Die Hard.

Rickman picked up a Golden Globe and an Emmy for his leading role in 1995 film Rasputin, and his turn as the outrageous sheriff of Nottingham in 1991's Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves earned him a Bafta.

However, the "baddies" were not all he could turn his hand to.


As a leading man, he starred with Juliet Stevenson in supernatural romance Truly, Madly, Deeply, and he also attracted critical acclaim for his role as Colonel Brandon in Sense And Sensibility, opposite Emma Thompson.

His acting partnership with Thompson also led to roles in 2003's Love, Actually, in which they played husband and wife.

Rickman became best known here for starring as Eamon de Valera in 1996 opposite Liam Neeson in Michael Collins.

Like many British actors, Rickman's career began on the stage after he graduated from drama school Rada, and he frequently returned to the stage throughout his career.

Hailing from a working-class London family, he supported himself as a dresser before finding work with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

His breakthrough came two years before he appeared in Die Hard, when he was cast as the cruel seducer Le Vicomte in the play Les Liaisons Dangereuses in 1986. This earned him a Tony Award nomination for Best Actor in a Play and was an indication of his talent at playing the villain.

The actor quietly wed his partner of 50 years, economics lecturer and councillor Rima Horton, in 2012.

They had been together since they were teenagers and had no children.

Rickman will make a final screen appearance in a new film titled Eye In The Sky, due for release later this year, in which he stars opposite Helen Mirren and Aaron Paul.

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