Britain has lost another legend this week: Actor Alan Rickman, perhaps best known as Hans Gruber and Severus Snape, died "surrounded by family and friends" in London after a battle with cancer, according to a family statement. He was 69. He was often picked to play the villain, but he was "one of Britain's best-loved acting stars," per the BBC. Known across generations, Rickman got his start performing with the Royal Shakespeare Company before nabbing roles in Die Hard (a part he was offered just two days after arriving in Los Angeles at age 41); Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves; Love Actually; and the Harry Potter films, per the Guardian. He also showed his softer side in the romance Truly, Madly, Deeply and in the film adaptation of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility.
His last works, Eye in the Sky and Alice Through the Looking Glass, are due out later this year. "Rickman was a one-off ... an actor of singular charm and hypnotic charisma," film critic Peter Bradshaw writes at the Guardian. "He was a glorious Cavalier in a world of Roundheads." On Twitter, British actor Stephen Fry calls Rickman "a man of such talent, wicked charm & stunning screen & stage presence," while Harry Potter actor James Phelps describes him as "one of the nicest actors I've ever met." "A film, a piece of theater, a piece of music, or a book can make a difference. It can change the world," Rickman once said. He leaves behind his wife, Rima Horton, whom he married secretly in recent years after nearly 50 years together, per the Telegraph. (Read more Alan Rickman stories.)