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British icon Alan Rickman dies of cancer at 69

British actor Alan Rickman has died of cancer aged 69, his family have confirmed.

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Rickman passed away in London, surrounded by family and friends, after suffering from cancer.

The celebrated actor was perhaps best known for his role as Professor Snape in the Harry Potter movies — with younger audiences at least.

But older viewers also know him as Hans Gruber, Bruce Willis’s adversary in the 1988 action film Die Hard. He also played an outrageous Sheriff of Nottingham in 1991’s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, the honourable Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility (1995), former President of Ireland Éamon de Valera in the historical biopic Michael Collins (1996), and hapless Harry in Love Actually (2003).

After graduating from Rada, Rickman worked as a dresser for stars such as Ralph Richardson and Nigel Hawthorne before finding work with the Royal Shakespeare Company. His stage roles included Valmont in Christopher’s Hampton’s Les Liaisons Dangereuses (1986), which is considered to be his breakthrough role and earned him a Tony nomination, and Mark Antony opposite Helen Mirren as Cleopatra at the Olivier Theatre in London (1998).

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Recent film roles included an art-loving lord in the Coen brothers’ Gambit (2012), Ronald Reagan in Lee Daniels’ The Butler (2013) and King Louis XIV alongside Kate Winslet in A Little Chaos (2014).

He has a part in Eye in the Sky, a thriller about drone warfare that went down a storm at the 2015 Toronto film festival and is due to be released later this year.

Social media tributes to Rickman have been flooding in, with celebrities as well as legions of fans expressing their grief and paying their respects.

RIP Alan Rickman, 1946 – 2016.

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