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Screen legend Alan Rickman, Harry Potter's Severus Snape and Die Hard's Gruber, dies aged 69 after battle with cancer

By Claire Cromie

Published 14/01/2016

Alan Rickman in the role that terrified millions children - Severus Snape, the a fictional character in J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series
Alan Rickman in the role that terrified millions children - Severus Snape, the a fictional character in J. K. Rowling's Harry Potter series
2011: Alan Rickman signs autographs as he arrives for the North American premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 at Lincoln Center in New York. AFP PHOTO / STAN HONDASTAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images
1998: Helen Mirren and Alan Rickman during a photocall rehearsal for 'Anthony and Cleopatra' at the Olivier Theatre on London's South Bank. John Stillwell/PA Wire
2008: Alan Rickman, Tim Burton, Helena Bonham Carter, Johnny Depp and Timothy Spall at the premiere of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street at the Odeon West End Cinema, Leicester Square, London. Joel Ryan/PA Wire
Alan Rickman was the host at 'Hollywood Salutes Bruce Willis: An American Cinematheque Tribute' at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, Beverly Hills, Ca. 9/23/00. Rickman came out onstage with crutches after a clip was shown of him falling to his death in a Bruce Willis film. Photo:Kevin Winter/ImageDirect.
1999 Alan Rickman stars in the new movie "Galaxy Quest." Photo Dreamworks
2015: Alan Rickman in front of the Qatar Tourism wall of flowers containing 35,000 carnations during day two of the Glorious Goodwood Festival, Chichester. John Walton/PA Wire
2001: Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson at London's Ivy Restaurant, helping to launch ActionAid Week. Johnny Green/PA Wire
Alan Rickman and his partner Labour Councillor Rima Horton arrive for the 50th anniversary gala of the NFT at the National Film Theatre on the South Bank in London. Yui Mok/PA Wire
2010: Frances de la Tour, Alan Rickman, Tom Wilkinson and Andy de la Tour perform at the Concert For Haiti, sponsored by the TUC, at Congress House in London. Rickman has died from cancer aged 69, his family said. Ian West/PA Wire
2010: Alan Rickman attends the world premier of "Alice in Wonderland" at the Odeon Cinema in London's Leicester Square. AFP PHOTO / CARL COURTCARL COURT/AFP/Getty Images
2007: Alan Rickman arrives for the premiere of "Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street" in New York. AFP PHOTO / NICHOLAS ROBERTSNICHOLAS ROBERTS/AFP/Getty Images
2003: Alan Rickman is seen during a press conference for the premiere of the film "Love actually" in Paris. AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYSGABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images
2012: Alan Rickman walks on the red carpet as he arrives to attend the World Premier for the film 'Gambit' in Leicester Square, central London. AFP PHOTO / ANDREW COWIEANDREW COWIE/AFP/Getty Images
2009: Alan Rickman arrives at the New York premier of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in New York. AFP PHOTO / DON EMMERTDON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images
2013: Alan Rickman poses during the photocall of "Une Promesse" presented out of competition at the 70th Venice Film Festival at Venice Lido. AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYSGABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images
2015: Alan Rickman poses for photographers on the red carpet for the UK premiere of the film "A Little Chaos" in central London. AFP PHOTO / JUSTIN TALLISJUSTIN TALLIS/AFP/Getty Images
2010: The Prince of Wales (left) meets Alan Rickman on arriving for the Royal world premiere of Alice in Wonderland at the Odeon, Leicester Square, London. Ian West/PA Wire
2015: Helen McCrory, Alan Rickman and Kate Winslet attending the UK premiere of the film A Little Chaos at the Odeon Kensington, London. Ian West/PA Wire
2006: Sigourney Weaver with Director Marc Evans and co-star Alan Rickman at the Dominion theatre in Edinburgh for the Premier of Snow Cake during the Edinburgh International Festival. Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
2001: Alan Rickman as 'Elyot' and Lindsay Duncan as 'Amanda' at a photocall for Howard Davies's production of Noel Coward's "Private Lives" at the Albery Theatre in London. Peter Jordan/PA Wire
2000: Queen Elizabeth II meeting actors Juliet Stevenson and Alan Rickman at the opening of the new premises of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. Ian Jones/Daily Telegraph/PA Wire
1999: Linda Fiorentino, Alan Rickman, Ben Affleck and Salma Hayek on the rooftop of the Palais des Festivals, promoting their latest movie "Dogma", directed by Kevin Smith during the 52nd Annual International Cannes Film Festival 1999. Neil Munns/PA Wire
2001: Comedian Vic Reeves, comedian and host Eddie Izzard, actor Alan Rickman and comedian Harry Enfield on stage during a photocall prior to the 'We Know Where You Live. Live!' event to mark the 40th anniversary of Amnesty International at London's Wembley Arena. William Conran/PA Wire

Alan Rickman, the much-loved British actor, has died at the age of 69.

His family said he had been suffering from cancer, but like David Bowie who also died from cancer at 69 this week, his illness was not made public.

The admired giant of British film and theatre was best know for his "baddie" roles as Severus Snape in Harry Potter and Hans Gruber in Die Hard.

It was as Bruce Willis's sadistic adversary he shot to global fame and acclaim at the age of 41.

He nearly turned down the role, but relented in the end.

"I read the script, and I said, 'What the hell is this? I’m not doing an action movie,'" Alan revealed, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

"Agents and people said, ‘Alan, you don’t understand, this doesn’t happen. You’ve only been in L.A. two days, and you’ve been asked to do this film.'"

He also played Eamon de Valera in Michael Collins alongside Liam Neeson.

But Rickman experienced a new level of fame when he was cast as the dark Professor Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films.

He won legions of new, younger fans from the wizarding role, appearing in all eight movies.

Last year he revealed he had secretly married his high school sweetheart Rima Horton after 50 years together.

Asked what the secret of his successful relationship was, though they were not married, Alan replied: "We are married, just recently."

"It was great because no one was there. After the wedding in New York, we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and ate lunch."

Rickman often worked with Emma Thompson, most notably as husband and wife in Love Actually, but also in Judas Kiss, Sense and Sensibility and Harry Potter.

Other notable roles from his illustrious career include Robin Hood: prince of Thieves, Sweeney Todd and most recently, A Little Chaos.

His death comes ahead of the release of a new film called Eye In The Sky in which he stars alongside Helen Mirren and Aaron Paul.

The thriller is set to open in UK cinemas on April 8, according to IMDb.

And the star had also completed another film set for release later this year called Alice Through The Looking Glass.

Rickman, who was also a film-maker, said JK Rowling's long-running Harry Potter series prevented him from returning to the director's chair for almost two decades.

He directed and starred as French King Louis XIV alongside Kate Winslet in A Little Chaos, and on the red carpet at the Scottish premiere of the film last February, he said he had no idea Rowling's saga would stretch to six novels and seven films when he took the role of Severus Snape in 2001.

''I wasn't free until now because I started doing Harry Potter, and when I started there were only three books written so I didn't know I was going to be unable (to direct),'' he said.

''Because if you're going to direct a film it's over a year of your life and I didn't have that.

''So once I had finished with that series of films I was free, and then along came this wonderful script."

A Little Chaos was the star's second outing behind the camera, 18 years after he directed Emma Thompson in Scotland-based drama The Winter Guest.

Online Editors

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