Alan Rickman, 'Die Hard' and 'Harry Potter' Actor, Dead at 69

Golden Globe-winning actor passes away following a battle with cancer

Alan Rickman, the British actor who portrayed likable villains in films like Die Hard and the Harry Potter series, has passed away Credit: Jamie Simonds/Redux

Alan Rickman, the British actor who portrayed likable villains in films like Die Hard and the Harry Potter series, has passed away. "The actor and director Alan Rickman has died from cancer at the age of 69. He was surrounded by family and friends," his family wrote in a statement confirming the actor's death, the BBC reports.

Rickman's acting career began on the stage with a stint in the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) as well as roles on numerous BBC productions. In 1987, a RSC production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses came to Broadway, earning Rickman a Tony Award nomination and paving the way for his first major Hollywood role as the German terrorist Hans Gruber in the 1988 action film Die Hard. Rickman's memorable turn as the perfect foil to Bruce Willis' John McClain resulted in more villainous roles, including as the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and as a sadistic ranch owner in Quigley Down Under.

Rickman didn't just play the villain: The actor's filmography spanned roles in romantic comedies (Truly, Madly, Deeply, Love Actually), period dramas (Sense & Sensibility), sci-fi (Galaxy Quest, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy), historical biopics (Michael Collins, the Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning lead role in Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny, Ronald Reagan in The Butler), musicals (Sweeney Todd) and comedy (Dogma, Bob Roberts.)

However, Rickman may best be remembered for his portrayal as the taciturn Professor Severus Snape in the eight-film Harry Potter franchise. The actor also portrayed CBGB owner Hilly Kristal in the 2013 film CBGB and reprised his vocal role of Absolem the Caterpillar in Alice Through the Looking Glass, the sequel to Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland due out this May.

"Alan Rickman is undoubtedly one of the greatest actors I will ever work with," Daniel Radcliffe wrote. "He is also one of the loyalest and most supportive people I've ever met in the film industry. Alan was extremely kind, generous, self-deprecating and funny. And certain things obviously became even funnier when delivered in his unmistakable double-bass. Film sets and theatre stages are all far poorer for the loss of this great actor and man."

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling took to Twitter to eulogize Rickman. "There are no words to express how shocked and devastated I am to hear of Alan Rickman's death," she wrote. "He was a magnificent actor & a wonderful man. We have all lost a great talent."