Film fans both young and old have been saddened to hear of the death of Alan Rickman, who died this morning from cancer at the age of 69.
Despite having only started his film acting career at 41, Rickman will be remembered for a number of stand-out roles including super-villain Hans Gruber in Die Hard and his show-stealing performance as the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood Prince Of Thieves (“I’ll cut your heart out with a spoon!”).
However, especially among younger fans, it is his role as deceptive hero Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films that will live long in the memory.
The Independent describes Snape as a deeply complex character – “a malicious, slithering and petty professor on the surface, but deep down driven by good”.
This goodbye letter Rickman wrote for Empire in 2011, shortly after wrapping on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 , now seems incredibly poignant:
The letter read:
I have just returned from the dubbing studio where I spoke into a microphone as Severus Snape for absolutely the last time. On the screen were some flashback shots of Daniel, Emma, and Rupert from ten years ago. They were 12. I have also recently returned from New York, and while I was there, I saw Daniel singing and dancing (brilliantly) on Broadway. A lifetime seems to have passed in minutes.
Three children have become adults since a phone call with Jo Rowling, containing one small clue, persuaded me that there was more to Snape than an unchanging costume, and that even though only three of the books were out at that time, she held the entire massive but delicate narrative in the surest of hands.
It is an ancient need to be told in stories. But the story needs a great storyteller. Thanks for all of it, Jo.
Tributes have been pouring through social media channels with a number of prominent figures in the entertainment industry and beyond tweeting their thoughts:
Alan Rickman. Incredible actor and director. Above all, the most generous, funny, loving friend to us. @Deborra_lee and I will miss you so .
— Hugh Jackman (@RealHughJackman) January 14, 2016
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.
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) January 14, 2016
— Harry Potter Film (@HarryPotterFilm) January 14, 2016
Alan Rickman. Incredibly kind. Beyond talented. Devastatingly funny. Damn.
— Colin Hanks (@ColinHanks) January 14, 2016
According to the Independent, a statement released by Rickman’s family said:
The actor and director Alan Rickman has died from cancer at the age of 69. He was surrounded by family and friends.
A wonderful actor whose heartfelt and memorable performances will be remembered for a long time.