Alan Rickman — one of the most respected stage and screen actors of his era — passed away three years ago today, at the age of 69, per the New York Times. Rickman was known as a Shakespearean stage actor in the early part of his career, before getting his first major film role in 1988. Rickman, known for both his range and his distinctive, booming voice, continued to perform on the big screen for the remainder of his life.
A look at the best films Rickman made in his nearly 30-year movie career follows.
- Die Hard. Rickman’s first movie role was probably his most famous. He played villain Hans Gruber in director John McTiernan’s 1988 action blowout Die Hard. The film had a massive influence on the action movies of the ensuing decade, with Rickman’s performance also being influential on the way bad guys were played in the years afterward. This is undeniable, whichever side of the “Christmas movie” debate one comes down on.
- Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. After Die Hard, Rickman was quickly cast in several other films, appearing in four movies in 1991. The best known of these was another villainous role, in which Rickman played the Sheriff of Nottingham — opposite Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood.
- Bob Roberts. Rickman played a small but memorable role in director Tim Robbins’ 1992 political satire. Rickman played Lukas Hart III, a Machiavellian political consultant who assisted Bob Roberts, Robbins’ titular folk-singer and conservative Senate candidate.
- Sense and Sensibility. In Ang Lee’s 1995 Jane Austen adaptation, Rickman played Col. Brandon, a suitor of Emma Thompson’s Marianne. The film also starred Kate Winslet and Hugh Grant, forming one of the more prestigious casts of any 1990s movie.
- Dogma. In Kevin Smith’s 1999 satire about the Catholic Church, Rickman played Metatron, a seraph who was essentially a “spokesman” for God.
- Galaxy Quest. Also in 1999, Rickman appeared in director Dean Parisot’s parody of Star Trek, as the plot had the cast of a popular Star Trek-like TV series having to actually battle real aliens. Rickman played Alexander Dane, a serious actor who played a Mr. Spock-like character — and saw the material as beneath him. The film has become a cult hit over time.
- The Harry Potter series. In Rickman’s other most famous role, he played Professor Severus Snape in all eight Harry Potter films. The films range in terms of release from between the years 2001 and 2011. In playing the duplicitous character, Rickman defined himself — and the famous character — for an entire generation of film-goers.
- Love Actually. Rickman again paired up with Emma Thompson in the 2001 classic, another film associated with the Christmas season. Rickman played an advertising executive tempted to cheat on his wife (Thompson) with his secretary (Heike Makatsch.)
- Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. In director Tim Burton’s 2007 adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s musical, Rickman played Judge Turpin, in a rare film performance in which he was able to sing.
- Lee Daniels’ The Butler. In director Lee Daniels’ 2013 film about the adventures of a black man who served as a butler in the White House over the decades, Rickman played President Ronald Reagan, opposite Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan.