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One of the biggest stars of British TV and film, Alan Rickman, has died from cancer at the age of 69. His death has been confirmed by his family today.

The instantly recognisable voice and sleepy eyes of Rickman adorned innumerable blockbusters, from the first Die Hard film in 1985 to the role of Professor Severus Snape in the Harry Potter movies in the 2000s. His languid, icy charm was perfectly suited to villainous roles, such as the German megalomaniac Hans Gruber in Die Hard. Humour was never far away…

 

In between, there were big roles in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves with Kevin Costner (1991), Sense and Sensibility with Kate Winslet (1995), Michael Collins with Liam Neeson (1996), Galaxy Quest with Sigourney Weaver (1999), and Love, Actually with Emma Thompson (2003).

 

The Hammersmith-born actor got his first breaks on television, in period drama roles – Therese Raquin in 1980 was soon followed by his breakthrough performance as Obadiah Slope in BBC1’s The Barchester Chronicles in 1982.

Rickman won a Golden Globe, an Emmy and a Screen Actors’ Guild award for his performance in the lead role of 1996 mini-series Rasputin. He won a best supporting actor Bafta for Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

Stars have been quick to pay tribute to him online, including Harry Potter creator JK Rowling:

Robert Pattinson:

David Harewood:

Champion long jumper Greg Rutherford:

Rickman married his longtime partner, Rima Horton, last year.

He became beloved of a new generation when he played the sarcastic, complex Professor Snape in the Harry Potter movies and he took the role to his heart.

SEE PHOTOS from the career of Alan Rickman.