January 2016 will forever be known as a month of loss for culture. Less than a week ago the world received the shocking news of David Bowie’s death and today we learn of another legend’s passing. Alan Rickman, star of the Harry Potter series and beloved stage actor, has passed away from cancer at the age of 69.
Rickman’s most recognisable role was as Professor Snape in the Harry Potter series; a role which everyone loved to hate and in no small part thanks to Rickman’s masterful performance and singular voice. However, the actor’s first big-screen staple was as the evil Hans Gruber in Die Hard alongside Bruce Willis and was a role that would bring his sensational talent to the upper echelons of cinema.
Long before that he was a giant of British stage, screen and TV, his first role being Tybalt in the 1978 BBC production of Romeo and Juliet. He would later appear in the highly acclaimed Smiley’s People with Sir Alec Guinness in 1982, and later in his film career he would play the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility, and Emma Thompson‘s loving husband in Love Actually.
His languid and powerful voice was perhaps his most recognisable feature, and he made good use of it to affect the menace of Snape as well as convey the mystic wisdom of Absolem in Alice in Wonderland and in Alice Through The Looking Glass (which shall be his last feature film).
Rickman accomplished much within his esteemed career: he directed his long-time collaborator Emma Thompson and her mother, Phyllida Law, in the Scottish drama The Winter Guest and later directed the stage play My Name is Rachel Corrie; he won a Golden Globe, an Emmy, a BAFTA and many more awards yet the absence of an Oscar never seemed to bother him; and he was a politically-active individual involved in much charity work and occasionally acting in roles that reflected issues important to himself.
Alan Rickman once said that “talent is an accident of genes, and a responsibility.” If this was the case, then we was one of the greatest accidents cinema has had the privilege to bear witness to, and he carried it with such responsibility that the world is lesser for his parting. Rickman is survived by his wife, Rima Horton; a woman he met when he was 19 in 1965, becoming his first girlfriend, and whom he would marry in 2012.