We remember Alan Rickman's greatest characters
British film great Alan Rickman has died of cancer at the age of 69. A screen legend on both sides of the Atlantic (and beyond), no Hollywood actor was as adept at playing the sneering villain you were supposed to despise, yet secretly respected. As memorable as his dastardly performances in Die Hard and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves were, Rickman also knew how to draw empathy and fondness from an audience. Truly, Madly, Deeply. Galaxy Quest. Love Actually. This was a man whose onscreen creations were so often sharp of tongue, yet tender of heart. Here, we look back upon his most memorable roles.
Hans Gruber in Die Hard (1988)
The role for which Rickman will be remembered by an entire generation a cold, ruthless German terrorist who provided the perfect foil for Bruce Willis hot-headed John McClain. His masterful display of bastardery helped separate Die Hard from two-dozen similar schlock-and-awe 80s flicks.
Image: 20th Century Fox
Jamie in Truly, Madly, Deeply (1990)
A big change from the norm, as Rickman portrays a sensitive musician who also happens to be a ghost. He helps his widowed wife (Juliet Stevenson) move on from his death. No villainy here; just a romantic tale with a hugely poignant final scene. Oh, and an incredible moustache.
Image: BBC Films
Judge Turpin in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)
One of the few Rickman performances where he deliberately suffocates any hope of audience sympathy, stalking and manipulating Benjamin Barkers wife with relentless menace. As a result, his comeuppance is one of the most satisfying character demises committed to film (also: there's singing!).
Image: Warner Bros
Rasputin in Rasputin: Dark Servant Of Destiny (1996)
This TV movie also starred Ian McKellen and charted the final four years of Rasputins time as healer to the Tsar of Russia. Rickman was hardly known at the time, but he still managed to score three Golden Globes (including Best Actor) and an Emmy for the role.
Marvin in The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (2005)
Who else on the planet could have done a better job as the Sirius Cybernetics Corps nihilistic robot the original Paranoid Android? Rickman's maudlin, wonderfully human delivery of I'm a personality prototype. You can tell, cant you? is just one of the many laugh-out-loud wisecracks in the movie.
Image: Buena Vista Pictures
Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series (2001-11)
There was more to him that met the eye, said Rickman of playing Harry Potters downbeat schoolmaster in 2012. Its something unnameable. He lives within very tight confines emotionally, physically. He lives a solitary kind of existence. Only Rickman could nail such a mysterious character so well.
Image: Warner Bros
The Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Theives (1991)
The jet-black beard, the acerbic tongue, the snarling one-liners Locksley, Im gonna cut your heart out with a spoon! Rickmans Sheriff immediately secured cult anti-hero status, and is one of the most widely parodied villain roles in film.
Image: Warner Bros
Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility (1995)
An unfashionable yet exemplary display of Rickmans versatility within a single role, in which he perfectly showcases the many sides to Jane Austens General. To Elinor, hes a helpful friend; to Mrs Dashwood a noble gentleman; to Marianne, a boring old codger... until they fall in love.
Image: Columbia Pictures
Harry in Love Actually (2003)
A role that perfectly summarises much of Rickmans career output. You really should despise his character for cheating on his loyal wife with the hot office secretary, and yet, you still end the film wanting to give Harry a reaffirming pat on the back. Followed by a pint down the pub. Just to check he's okay.
Image: Universal Pictures
Alexander Dane in Galaxy Quest (1999)
The standout performance in Dean Parisots sci-fi parody, which deliberately meddles with expectations set by previous Rickman characters. Bristling with bitterness and regret, all signs point to him turning on his crew and committing some ungodly, Sheriff of Nottingham-style deed, but instead he performs a glorious, heroic about-face to shatter those pre-conceptions. Bravo!
Image: Dreamworks Pictures