Acclaimed actor of stage and film Alan Rickman has died of cancer at the age of 69, and heartbroken fans are putting pencil to paper to celebrate and mourn him.
Though Rickman’s work encompassed a wide range of genres and characters, and garnered him some of the top awards in the acting industry, he is perhaps best known for playing a handful of villains you love to hate.
Cool and collected Hans Gruber in Die Hard (1988) and the bombastic Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991) are endlessly quotable, but he is beloved for playing the enigmatic Professor Severus Snape in the 8-part Harry Potter movie series.
As Hogwarts’ best bad guy or worst good guy, Rickman kept audiences enthralled (and guessing) until the last – all the while regaling them with meme-worthy one-liners and his trademark mellifluous growl.
Potter fans – a vocal, internet-savvy bunch to begin with – are now taking to cyberspace to share their tributes to the acting giant, with many paying tribute to his character Snape’s most vulnerable moments, including his death.
These artistic salutes are fitting. Rickman didn’t actually pursue an acting career until his late twenties when he enrolled in the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts alongside classmates (and future acting legends) Fiona Shaw and Kenneth Branagh. Until then, Rickman was actually a graphic designer with a studio in London’s SoHo district, which he opened after finishing art school at the Royal College of Art in 1969.
A maker through-and-through, Rickman’s words in an interview with IFC are a battle cry for all those struggling to justify or even believe in their own creativity:
“It’s a human need to be told stories … we need to tell stories to each other about who we are, why we are, where we come from, and what might be possible. Or, what’s impossible? What’s a fantasy? … Actors are agents of change. A film, a piece of theater, a piece of music, or a book can make a difference. It can change the world.”
It is for this generous dedication to the arts that Alan Rickman will be remembered. “Always.”