Alan Rickman, star of stage and 'Harry Potter' dies at 69

(AP) -- British actor Alan Rickman, whose career ranged from the Royal Shakespeare Company to the "Harry Potter" films, has died. He was 69.

Rickman's family said Thursday that the actor had died after a battle with cancer.

Trained at the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Rickman was often cast as the bad guy; with his rich, languid voice he could invest evil with wicked, irresistible relish.

His breakout role was as scheming French aristocrat the Vicomte de Valmont in an acclaimed 1985 RSC production of Christopher Hampton's "Les Liaisons Dangereuses."

Film roles included the villain Hans Gruber in "Die Hard" in 1988; a deceased lover who consoles his bereaved partner in 1990's "Truly Madly Deeply"; the wicked Sheriff of Nottingham in "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" in 1991; and a wayward husband in 2003 romantic comedy "Love Actually."

Millions know him from the Potter films, in which he played the Dark Arts teacher Severus Snape, who was either a nemesis or an ally -- possibly both -- to the titular teenage wizard.

Rickman is survived by his partner of 50 years, Rima Horton, whom he married recently.

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