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Alan Rickman, Known for Villain Roles, Dies at 69

Actor Alan Rickman died today of complications of pancreatic cancer (file photo).

LOS ANGELES - Alan Rickman, the acclaimed British stage and screen actor with a velvety voice who won fame for his villain roles, died of cancer today at the age of 69.

According to his family, the actor passed away quietly surrounded by his family. Death was attributed to complications from pancreatic cancer.

According to reports, Rickman suffered a minor stroke last August, which then led to the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. But the actyor concealed the fact that he was terminally ill from all but his closest family and friends.

Rickman first came to the attention of American audiences as "Vicomte de Valmont" in "Les Liaisons Dangereuses" on Broadway in 1987 (he was nominated for a Tony Award for his performance in the role). Denied the role in the film version of the show, Rickman instead made his first movie appearance opposite Bruce Willis in Die Hard as the villain, "Hans Gruber". Rickman's take on the urbane villain set the standard for screen villains for decades to come.

Though often cited as being a master of playing villains, Rickman has actually played a wide variety of characters, such as the romantic cello-playing ghost "Jamie" in Anthony Minghella's Truly Madly Deeply and the noble "Colonel Brandon" of Sense and Sensibility. He's treated audiences to his comedic abilities with films like Dogma, Galaxy Quest and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and roles like "Dr. Alfred Blalock" in Something the Lord Made and "Alex Hughes" in Snow Cake, showcase his ability to play ordinary men in extraordinary situations. Rickman even conquered the daunting task of singing a part in a Stephen Sondheim musical as he took on the part of "Judge Turpin" in the movie adaptation of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. In 2001, Rickman introduced himself to a whole new, and younger, generation of fans by taking on the role of "Severus Snape" in the movie versions of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. He has continued to play the role through the eighth and last movie "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2."

Ralph Fiennes, said " I cannot believe he is gone", and "Harry Potter" creator J. K. Rowling called Rickman "a magnificent actor and a wonderful man". Emma Watson wrote, "I feel so lucky to have worked and spent time with such a special man and actor. I'll really miss our conversations". Daniel Radcliffe appreciated his loyalty and support. "I'm pretty sure he came and saw everything I ever did on stage both in London and New York. He didn't have to do that".

Evanna Lynch said it was scary to bump into Rickman in character as Snape, but "he was so kind and generous in the moments he wasn't Snaping about". Rupert Grint said, "even though he has gone I will always hear his voice."


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