'His talent was immense, his generosity of heart and time knew no bounds' - Tributes to Alan Rickman
Published 14/01/2016 | 12:38
Legendary actor Alan Rickman has died at 69, his family confirmed.
The Harry Potter star was suffering from cancer and his family confirmed he died on Thursday.
He is largely regarded as one of the most beloved British actors of our generation with roles in Love Actually, Die Hard, Michael Collins, and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and an illustrious stage career.
A family statement said: "The actor and director Alan Rickman has died from cancer at the age of 69. He was surrounded by family and friends."
The actor, who won a Tony Award in the 2002 production of Noel Coward's Private Lives, married his high school sweetheart last year after 50 years together.
Rima Horton and Rickman have been together since they met when he was 19 and she was 18.
What desperately sad news about Alan Rickman. A man of such talent, wicked charm & stunning screen & stage presence. He'll be sorely missed— Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) January 14, 2016
The couple lived together in London for 50 years.
I do not want my heroes to die! Alan Rickman is dead & he was another hero. Alan - thank you for being with us. We are sorry you had to go— Eddie Izzard (@eddieizzard) January 14, 2016
Rickman shot to fame in 1988, when he starred as Hans Gruber, Bruce Willis’s enemy in Die Hard. He was famously offered the part two days after arriving in Los Angeles, when he was aged 41.
He went on to become one of the world's most celebrated stars of stage, TV and film.
Rickman starred in the 1996 film Michael Collins, a historical biopic of the Irish civil war, in which he played Éamon de Valera. He later expressed his dismay that the film had a “Hollywood ending”. But fans will likely always think of him as Professor Severus Snape, from the Harry Potter franchise.
Irish director Neil Jordan today described Alan Rickman’s portrayl of Eamon de Valera in his 1996 film, Michael Collins as “uncanny”.
“He was one of those wonderful actors, one of those treasures. He accepted the role without question because he thought the film was important,” he said.
“As many actors do, he totally identified with the character.
“My abiding memory of him is I had 4,000 extras I think in the set we’d built of the GPO and O’Connell Street and Alan’s very first scene was to speak on the podium in front of 4,000 Irish people and he was terrified.
“His recreation of the picture of De Valera, his voice and his stance, everything like that was uncanny and quite immaculate.
“The fact that he had up until then been best known as the villain in Die Hard was perhaps not the best thing but he was just such a good actor and I felt lucky to have him.”
Speaking on Drivetime on RTE Radio 1, Neil said Alsn “watched everything he possibly could” to prepare for the role.
“He was such a genius, he managed to make that level of exactitude and almost-nit-picking-way-of-talking part of the character,” he said.
“Alan was playing a character that was the least sympathetic of the bunch but he did it beautifully.
“I’m shocked he died so young, I didn’t even know he was sick.
“I would have loved to have worked with him again,” he added.
In 2010, Rickman starred in the Abbey Theatre's production of John Gabriel Borkman with Fiona Shaw. Today, Fiach MacConghail, Director of the Abbey Theatre paid tribute to the actor.
"We have heard with great sadness about the untimely death of Alan Rickman. We extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to Rima and his fellow actors in the theatre community."
"We have fond memories of Alan’s work with us here at the Abbey Theatre in Frank Mc Guinness’s version of John Gabriel Borkman in 2010 which was a sell-out success and which transferred to the BAM Harvey Theater, in New York."
"Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis," Mr MacConghail.
Irish actress Cathy Belton worked with Rickman on John Gabriel Borkman at the Abbey Theatre both in Dublin and on tour in New York. She was also directed by him last year in his feature film A Little Chaos.
Today, she said: "I was deeply saddened to hear the news of Alan's passing today. It was a joy and a privilege to work with him but it was even more of a privilege to call him a dear friend."
"His talent was immense, his generosity of heart and time knew no bounds both professionally and personally. His dry Celtic wit was a joy to be around, always challenging, charming, questioning and listening."
"It was no wonder he felt so at home in Ireland during his many times working and visiting here. His death is such a great loss to us all, my heartfelt sympathies go to his beloved wife Rima, his rock and light at his side for over fifty years. The world is a lesser place without him and I will miss him greatly."
Michael Colgan, artistic director of Dublin's Gate Theatre today said he had spoken with Rickman about the possibility of him directing a plan at the theatre.
"Unfortunately I did not get the opportunity to work with Alan, however, I did meet him on several occasions and at one of these meetings we discussed the possibility of him directing a play at the Gate."
"Alan was a great man of the theatre, with a terrific understanding both as an actor and a director. He was exceptional, and in my view one of his defining performances was in the role of Valmont in Les Liaisons Dangereuses which I saw at the Barbican. I am saddened to hear of the passing of this great man."
Stephen Fry led an outpouring of tributes today on Twitter: “What desperately sad news about Alan Rickman,” he wrote on Twitter. “A man of such talent, wicked charm and stunning screen and stage presence. He'll be sorely missed.”
Meanwhile, comedian Eddie Izzard said: “I do not want my heroes to die! Alan Rickman is dead and he was another hero. Alan - thank you for being with us. We are sorry you had to go.”
Rickman spoke of how he struggled to get over the Potter phenomenon, and marvels at meeting "obsessed" fans who weren't born when he began playing shifty Severus Snape.
"What is it about 'once upon a time'," he wonders aloud, "that still has such power over people's imaginations? I find it a relief to think a child will pick up an actual book and get lost inside it. There's something just fundamental about it; it's how we figure out who we are by telling stories to each other."
Last year, asked what the secret of his successful relationship was, though they were not married, Alan said: "We are married, just recently."
"It was great because no one was there. After the wedding in New York, we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge and ate lunch."
The actor also revealed he gave his new wife a simple US$200 (€183) gold band that "she never wears".
Last year, Rickman came to Dublin for a special screening of his period romance A Little Chaos at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival, where he spoke about his Irish heritage through his paternal grandmother.
"When I came here, and I'm not kidding," he said, "it was absolutely like coming somewhere I knew, and that was back in the mid-nineties when I was shooting An Awfully Big Adventure. And those were the days before the banks went belly-up."
"Then it was unbelievably celebratory, and for me to just go into a bar and there wasn't some dreadful jukebox but actually people talking and seeing Sharon Shannon play in a club, it was honestly like meeting a bit of myself. And I was talking to (Texas singer and friend) Sharleen Spiteri about being a Celt, how you smell each other out, because my mother's family is Welsh. There's not a lot of English blood in me."
In 2009, he received the James Joyce Award by University College Dublin’s Literary and Historical Society.
According to the actor's IMDB page, Rickman's father died when he was eight years old. He studied Graphic Design at Chelsea College of Art and Design, where he met his wife Rima. He ran a successful graphics design business, Graphiti, with friends for several years before his love of theatre led him to audition with the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in London.
At 26, Rickman received a scholarship to RADA, and began his professional acting career which lasted over 40 years.
Rickman stars in two films which are set to be released this year - Eye in the Sky, and Alice Through the Looking Glass.