Alan Rickman, ‘Harry Potter’s’ Severus Snape, dies at 69

J.K. Rowling paid tribute to Alan, calling him a ‘magnificent and wonderful’ person.

Alan Rickman, beloved British stage and screen actor best known for his enigmatic roles in Harry Potter and Die Hard, has passed away. He was only 69 years old.

The Guardian published the sad story this morning, reporting that Rickman died in London after privately battling cancer.

For many people, Rickman captured our hearts as Severus Snape in the Harry Potter saga. He first shot to international fame in 1988, starring as the villainous Hans Gruber in Die Hard. His illustrious career spanned 30 years and included roles as the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility.


Alan Rickman was not only a terrific Professor Snape. He was a self-proclaimed Harry Potter superfan (despite not actually saying this oft-cited quote about reading the books when he’s older), and was committed to bringing the Potions Master to the screen in the most intriguing, truthful way possible.

When the final movie in the series, Deathly Hallows, Part 2, hit theaters in 2011, Rickman wrote a heartfelt goodbye letter to fans (for Empire Magazine) that we feel is appropriate to bring back on this sad occasion:


As not all the Harry Potter books were out while the movie series was being made, and Snape’s loyalties was a huge and important mystery, many fans believed that J.K. Rowling had told Rickman of Snape’s fate. But Rickman made sure to discount this in a 2011 interview withHitFix.

“She gave me one tiny, little, left of field piece of information that helped me think that he was more complicated and that the story was not going to be as straight down the line as everybody thought,” Rickman said. “If you remember when I did the first film she’d only written three or four books, so nobody knew where it was really going except her. And its was important for her that I know something, but she only gave me a tiny piece of information which helped me think it was a more ambiguous route.”

Ambiguous indeed. Rickman’s penchant for capturing layered, morally grey villains was unparalleled, and the world has truly lost a great talent much too soon.

J.K. Rowling paid tribute to Rickman on Twitter:


Actors from the Harry Potter film series also paid tribute:



Said actress Emma Thompson in a statement to The New York Times:


Alan was my friend and so this is hard to write because I have just kissed him goodbye. What I remember most in this moment of painful leave-taking is his humour, intelligence, wisdom, and kindness. HIs capacity to fell you with a look or lift you with a word. The intransigence which made him the great artist he was — his ineffable and cynical wit, the clarity with which he saw most things, including me, and the fact that he never spared me the view. I learned a lot from him.

He was the finest of actors and directors. I couldn’t wait to see what he was going to do with his face next. I consider myself hugely privledged to have worked with him so many times and to have been directed by him.

He was the ultimate ally. In life, art and politics. I trusted him absolutely.

He was, above all things, a rare and unique human being and we shall not see his like again.

Dan Radcliffe wrote on his Google Plus page:


Alan Rickman is undoubtedly one of the greatest actors I will ever work with. He is also, one of the loyalest and most supportive people I’ve ever met in the film industry. He was so encouraging of me both on set and in the years post-Potter. 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. I know other people who’ve been friends with him for much much longer than I have and they all say “if you call Alan, it doesn’t matter where in the world he is or how busy he is with what he’s doing, he’ll get back to you within a day”.

People create perceptions of actors based on the parts they played so it might surprise some people to learn that contrary to some of the sterner(or downright scary) characters he played, Alan was extremely kind, generous, self-deprecating and funny. And certain things obviously became even funnier when delivered in his unmistakable double-bass.

As an actor he was one of the first of the adults on Potter to treat me like a peer rather than a child. Working with him at such a formative age was incredibly important and I will carry the lessons he taught me for the rest of my life and career. Film sets and theatre stages are all far poorer for the loss of this great actor and man.

Finally, Emma Watson wrote on Facebook, “I’m very sad to hear about Alan today. I feel so lucky to have worked and spent time with such a special man and actor. I’ll really miss our conversations. RIP Alan. We love you”

It really is a sad start to 2016. Earlier this week, the world shook from the loss of British iconDavid Bowie, who also passed away from cancer, also aged 69.

Rest in peace, Alan. Thank you for everything you have given us.


Leave a Reply