Happy trails, Hans.
Sources report that acclaimed actor Alan Rickman has died after a short battle with cancer.
He was 69.
Though he never won an Academy Award, the formally-trained Rickman was renowned for his dramatic onscreen chops in Truly, Madly, Deeply, Sense & Sensibility, and Love Actually. He won an Emmy for his turn as the titular “mad monk” in HBO’s Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny in 1996.
But perhaps Rickman was best loved for portraying wizard-with-a-secret Severus Snape in the wildly popular Harry Potter films (2001-2011).
“Don’t lie to me,” the Slytherin House sorcerer famously cautioned his pupils.
Despite his middle-class English upbringing, Rickman scored an internship at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in the early ‘70s. His studies there resulted in a coveted membership in the Royal Shakespeare Company, under whose umbrella he honed his skills in productions of As You Like It and Les Liaisons Dangereuses.
Rickman’s Hollywood breakthrough came in 1988, when he played over-educated terrorist Hans Gruber (and Clay…Bill Clay) in the Bruce Willis actioner Die Hard. Sporting Armani suits and spouting Alexander the Great quotes while planting explosives and murdering stockbrokers trapped in an L.A. high-rise on Christmas Eve, Rickman’s GQ-dapper villain set a new standard in an age dominated by speechifying saboteurs, musclebound menaces, and karate-kicking crazies.
“Shoot the glass!” Rickman’s Gruber memorably instructed his henchmen.
As the Sheriff of Nottingham in 1991’s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Rickman threatened to carve out a henchman’s heart with a spoon “because it would hurt more.” He starred with Tim Allen and Sigourney Weaver (as Alexander Dane / Dr. Lazarus) in the well-received 1999 sci-fi spoof Galaxy Quest, and voiced Marvin the Android in the big-budget adaptation of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in 2005.
More recently, Rickman drew attention as Judge Turpin in the Tim Burton-directed Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007) and as beleaguered concert promoter Hilly Kristal in C.B.G.B. (2013).
Rickman reprised his voice part as Absolem the Caterpillar for Alice Through the Looking Glass, the upcoming sequel to Burton’s Alice in Wonderland (2010).