LONDON •Veteran British actor Alan Rickman, who played the role of Professor Severus Snape in the popular films based on the Harry Potter books, has died at the age of 69 of cancer, his family said.
Rickman, during his award-winning career on film, TV and theatre, was well-known for his portrayal of menacing villains due to his distinct voice and features.
The family statement released yesterday said he "was surrounded by family and friends". A spokesman for the London-based Independent Talent Group confirmed his death. He died yesterday morning.
Rickman started out in theatre. His captivating stage breakthrough came in New York in 1987, as the ruthless Valmont, fatally at war with his true feelings, in Christopher Hampton's Liaisons Dangereuses.
He shot to international fame in 1988 playing German terrorist mastermind Hans Gruber in Die Hard.
Rickman did a memorable turn as the Sheriff of Nottingham in the 1991 blockbuster Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves, earning a British Academy of Film and Television Arts (Bafta) award for best supporting actor.
He also won a Golden Globe for best actor in a miniseries or television film for the title role in the 1996 film Rasputin: Dark Servant Of Destiny.
He gained legions of younger fans with his portrayal of Professor Snape in all eight Harry Potter films from 2001 to 2011.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, NEW YORK TIMES