Alan Rickman (1946-) b. London, England.
A distinguished British stage actor born in London’s Hammersmith district, Alan Rickman won a scholarship to West London’s Latymer Upper School before studying graphic design at the Royal College of Art. At the age of twenty-six he abandoned a career as a graphic designer, deciding his heart lay in acting, and duly attended Royal Academy of Dramatic Art for three years. After leaving RADA, Rickman joined the Royal Shakespeare Company. He began to make his name on the stage, playing a wide range of regional, then later, national theatre roles throughout the 1980s. In 1988, Rickman made his film debut as the evil German uber-terrorist Hans Gruber in Die Hard (1988).
Success came again when he was cast in another villainous role, as the dastardly Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves (1991), confirming his talent for playing the sardonic villain. But Rickman has avoided being typecast; displaying a sensitive side as Juliet Stevenson’s ghostly lover in Anthony Minghella’s Truly, Madly, Deeply (1991). He turned in further diverse performances when cast as the chivalrous Colonel Brandon in Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility (1995), and Eamon De Valera in Neil Jordan’s biopic Michael Collins (1996). In 1997, he branched out into directing, making his debut with The Winter Guest (1997). Rickman even proved he could send himself up when cast as the Shakespearian thespian in sci-fi spoof Galaxy Quest (1999). The Harry Potter franchise occupied Rickman frequently, with appearances as Professor Severus Snape in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001), and the numerous subsequent sequels.
In Richard Curtis’ interwoven romantic comedy, Love Actually (2003), Rickman’s adulterous husband was an indictment of selfishness love and one of the few vignettes of humour and concern. Tim Burton’s adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2008), captured Rickman in superlatively creepy form as the predatory Judge Turpin.