Kate Winslet, Emma Thompson, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Helen Mirren among those remembering the giant of movies and theatre known best to many as Professor Snape in Harry Potter who has died at the age of 69
The world of stage and screen is in mourning for one of its most singular and best-loved stars. Alan Rickman died on Thursday morning aged 69 after suffering from cancer. His agent said that he died at home, surrounded by family and friends.
Emma Thompson, who had collaborated with Rickman on the likes of Sense and Sensibility, Love Actually and Rickmans directorial debut, The Winter Guest, spoke of her immense sadness, having just kissed him goodbye.
What I remember most in this moment of painful leave-taking is his humour, intelligence, wisdom and kindness, she wrote. His capacity to fell you with a look or lift you with a word.
Thompson continued: I couldnt wait to see what he was going to do with his face next 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.
An actor whose arch features and languid diction were recognisable across the generations, Rickman began his career in the theatre but found international stardom with a clutch of high-profile film roles including Hans Gruber in Die Hard (1988) and a charming, dastardly sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991). But it was his part as Professor Snape in the Harry Potter films which found him a fresh legion of fans.
Cast and crew on those movies were also quick to pay tribute to the actor. Daniel Radcliffe wrote that Rickman was one of the greatest actors I will ever work with as well as one of the loyalest and most supportive people Ive ever met in the film industry.
The younger actor recalled how Rickman came to see every play he was in, and how all Rickmans acquaintances enjoyed his attentive friendship: If you call Alan, it doesnt matter where in the world he is or how busy he is with what hes doing, hell get back to you within a day.
Said co-star Emma Watson: I feel so lucky to have worked and spent time with such a special man and actor. Ill really miss our conversations. RIP Alan. We love you. Rupert Grint said he was devastated and that [e]ven though he has gone I will always hear his voice.
Rickmans illness had not been publicly known and the seeming suddenness of his death was reflected in many of the tributes. Jason Isaacs said he was [s]idestepped by the awful news. The polar opposite of the icy, manipulating characters he became best known for, Alan was hilarious, warm-hearted and fabulous company.
JK Rowling, who wrote the Harry Potter books, said: There are no words to express how shocked and devastated I am to hear of Alan Rickmans death. He was a magnificent actor & a wonderful man.
Ralph Fiennes, who played Voldemort, described Rickman as a dear friend. I cannot believe he is gone and we are the poorer for it, he said. But his spirit and great generosity live on the hearts of everyone who knew him. Funny, acutely perceptive, extraordinarily loyal and giving – Alan cared.
Meanwhile Michael Gambon Dumbledore in the latter films said: Everybody loved Alan. He was always happy and fun and creative and very, very funny.
Last year, Rickman made his second film as director: A Little Chaos, set in the gardens of Versailles and starring Kate Winslet (the object of Rickmans affection in Sense and Sensibility). Winslet, who was also Oscar-nominated on Thursday, remembered the kindest and best of men [who] had the patience of a saint. He was a warm-hearted puppy dog, who would do anything for anyone if it made them happy.
Winslet said that, aged 19, she had initially been intimated by Rickman before realising he was an exceptionally warm and giving man and an utterly phenomenal actor and gifted director. And that voice! Oh, that voice We are all so devastated to lose Alan.
Rickman has two films still to be released, including Eye in the Sky, a drone warfare thriller in which he features alongside Helen Mirren. The two starred together in a 1998 stage production of Antony and Cleopatra. Mirren remembered Rickman as a great friend and a towering person, physically, mentally and as an artist whose voice could suggest honey or a hidden stiletto blade, and the profile of a Roman Emperor.
Rickman had been in a relationship with economics professor and former Labour councillor Rima Horton since 1965; the two married in 2012. He remained politically active throughout his life: he was born, he said, a card-carrying member of the Labour party, and was highly involved with charities including Saving Faces and the International Performers Aid Trust.
In 2005, he directed the award-winning play My Name is Rachel Corrie, which he and Katharine Viner now Guardian editor-in-chief compiled from the emails of the student who was killed by a bulldozer while protesting against the actions of Israels armed forces in the Gaza Strip.
Sigourney Weaver, Rickmans co-star in 1999 comedy Galaxy Quest and 2006 drama Snow Cake, cited the play, saying: He used his talent always to make a difference, his production of Rachel Corrie being one of the most powerful examples.
Alans enormous strength of character infused every character he played, she continued. Who else could have brought such pain and wit to Snape? I cant believe hes gone.
Ian McKellen, who starred alongside him in an HBO film about Rasputin, said Rickman put liberal philanthropy at the heart of his life and was a super-active spirit, questing and achieving, a super-hero, unassuming but deadly effective.
Others paying tribute to the actor remarked on his almost hypnotic hold over audiences and his countless devoted fans. His close friend Ruby Wax said that when she first saw him on stage, he was the most charismatic, sexiest thing Id ever seen.
Rickman directed Waxs standup shows for 20 years a little-known career credit for the actor. He had brilliant comic timing, she said. Hed say my lines and I would weep with laughing. But he could also play dry: the eyes would go slit-like and hed deliver unbelievable lines. I dont think Alan was appreciated as much as he should have been.
Stephen Poliakoff, with whom Rickman worked on 1999 psychodrama Close My Eyes, said the people often underestimated Rickmans capacity for career-anxiety as well as his allure for audiences. At a party before Rickmans breakthrough stage performance in Les Liaisons Dangereuses at the RSC, he recalled Rickman saying: Im nearly 40 and nobody here knows who I am.
Said Poliakoff: People said he wasnt sexy enough, heterosexual directors in the theatre didnt think he was attractive to women just about the greatest miscalculation in showbiz history!
Rickman was a man with whom many enjoyed long-lasting associations. Richard Wilson had known him since 1980, and they remained close despite never again working together. Even when he was ill, he had that great stillness and great dignity, said Wilson, who credited Rickmans professional success to his ability to be very metamorphic, he could take on anything.
The thing about Alan is that although he became a film star, one continually met him in tiny fringe venues all over the country. He was just so generous with his time, and with his encouragement. He was just very, very giving.
Harriet Walter first met Rickman in 1981 and described him as the most generous man I ever met a mentor and a brother figure to a generation of us. She was another of the many friends who said Rickman was loyal enough to see every stage production they were in.
Catherine Bailey, a fellow student of Rickmans at Rada, had remained in touch with him for half a century; the pair made a short film together in 2014.
He could make the impossible happen, she said. I saw him two days before he died and he wanted to hear about me and my family and how we were A man of great integrity, fiercely loyal and discreet, a friend to so many, loved by so many.
Bailey also paid tribute to his wife. My heart goes out to Rima, she wrote. Mutually supportive, devoted in life and there for each other in death.