America first saw Alan Rickman perform when he was 42 years old in the film Die Hard. Before that, he had spent years on the British stage and in television. He has been in scores of films, most often playing the villain, but occasionally surprising us with a thrilling heroic performance.
Rickman was far too young to die at just 69 years old after a long battle with cancer. As a tribute to his memory, let's look back at ten of his greatest films in no particular order.
1. Harry Potter (2001-2011)
His role as Severus Snape, the devilish potions master in the Harry Potter series is perhaps Rickman's most remembered and loved role. He played the viscous tormentor for the majority of the books, but was eventually revealed to be the hero of the entire series.
2. Sense and Sensibility (1995)
Starring opposite Kate Winslet, Alan had the opportunity to play the rare heroic gentleman in the famous Jane Austen story. Colonel Brandon manages to sweep the young Marianne off her feet with his genteel nature and stalwart attention.
3. Die Hard (1988)
This list wouldn't be complete without this Bruce Willis film, which is one of the first America saw of the actor. He plays the evil Hans Gruber who leads a team of organized criminals.
4. Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (2005)
In this other-worldly film, we never see his face, but his voice is unmistakable. Rickman voices the clinically depressed robot Marvin. Like his role as Severus Snape, Rickman has the opportunity to play a somewhat unlikable character who ends up saving the day in the end.
5. Galaxy Quest(1999)
Alan Rickman had another opportunity to star in an other worldly film in Galaxy Quest, a story of a group of actors who are mistakenly recruited to save an alien race. He played the role of a once-great actor who then feels a little lost without his role on the stage. The opportunity to save the world is a life changer for him. It just goes to show how many diverse roles and shows Rickman had the opportunity to star in. By Grabthar's hammer.
6. Truly, Madly, Deeply (1990)
This film is not well-known, but his performance is highly praised. In this film, he plays a ghost. His character died tragically, leaving behind a grieving girlfriend, and he came back to haunt her in a friendly way. He manages to strike the perfect balance between annoying and charming.
7. Sweeney Todd: Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)
Johnny Depp is the most remembered for this musical adaptation of a serial killer in London. Rickman plays the corrupt reigning magistrate of the city who spins lies and deception. Once again, Alan plays an evil character and excels in the role.
8. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)
There's no better actor to play the ruthless Sheriff of Nottingham. After his chilling performance, he won the BAFTA award for the Best Actor in a Supporting Role.
9. Alice in Wonderland (2010)
Rickman voiced Absolem the Caterpillar in the Tim Burton version of Lewis Caroll's classic. Before he passed, he also had the opportunity to voice the famous blue caterpillar in the upcoming sequel, Alice Through the Looking Glass, which is set to hit theaters in May.
10. Love Actually (2003)
Once again, Rickman had the opportunity to star alongside Emma Thompson in the role of Harry, the director of a design agency. The nasty character has an affair with his secretary while his wife (Emma Thompson) suffers alongside him.
In his 38 years on the stage and in front of the screen, Rickman played some extremely diverse roles. The ability to switch between villain and hero isn't something many people can do so effortlessly. Alan Rickman has left a mark on the world that will long be remembered through cinema.
[Image via Ian Gavan/Getty Images]