Actor Alan Rickman has died at the age of 69. Which of his many roles he was best know for may depend on your age and how highbrow you like your entertainment.
While he played some traditional villain roles such as the Sherriff of Nottingham, Judge Turpin, Rasputin and Vicomte de Valmont, he also had two major franchise roles which were very much his own: Hans Gruber in Die Hard and Severus Snape in Harry Potter.
Arguably Rickman’s greatest characteristic was bringing a level of depth to what could have been cartoonish portrayals. It’s an approach described by a Wikipedia editor as being a “complex antagonist” and by Gizmodo as “villains to root for.”
His work as Snape was particularly impressive given the role’s complex character arc and the overlap between the filming of the movies and JK Rowling completing the series of books. There was even a popular story that Rowling gave Rickman exclusive detailed insight into the fate of Snape in the later books, though he denied this and said he had simply been given “a tiny piece of information which helped me think it was a more ambiguous role.”
A family statement released today said that Rickman died from cancer and was surrounded by family and friends.