Alan Rickman, Harry Potter and Die Hard actor, dies aged 69

Beloved British actor and director Alan Rickman has died after losing a cancer battle at the age of 69.

A giant of stage and screen, he was best known for playing Professor Snape in Harry Potter and villain Hans Gruber in Die Hard. He also starred in Robin Hood and Love Actually.

His family said in a statement: “The actor and director Alan Rickman has died from cancer at the age of 69. He was surrounded by family and friends.”

Rickman’s death comes just months ahead of the release of a new film called Eye In The Sky, in which he stars alongside Helen Mirren. He had also completed another film set for release later this year, Alice Through The Looking Glass.

The London-born actor was a long-standing member of the Royal Shakespeare Company and had won a BAFTA Award, a Golden Globe Award, an Emmy Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award.

Despite an accomplished 30-year career, he never won an Oscar. But he once noted that “parts win prizes, not actors”.

Stephen Fry was among those paying tribute to Rickman. “What desperately sad news about Alan Rickman,” he wrote on Twitter. “A man of such talent, wicked charm and stunning screen and stage presence. He’ll be sorely missed.”

Edinburgh author JK Rowling, who created the character Professor Snape, one of Rickman’s most famous roles, tweeted to express her shock: “There are no words to express how shocked and devastated I am to hear of Alan Rickman’s death. He was a magnificent actor & a wonderful man.”

Harry Potter actor James Phelps, who played Fred Weasley, said Rickman was “One of the nicest actors I’ve ever met. Thoughts and prayers with his family at this time.”

Rickman married his partner of 50 years, economics lecturer and Labour councillor Rima Horton, in a quiet ceremony in 2012. He had no children.