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Actor Alan Rickman dies aged 69

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British film legend Alan Rickman has died at the age 69 after a battle with cancer, his family has confirmed.

Following the passing of David Bowie earlier this week, the Die Hard and Harry Potter star becomes the latest British icon to be cruelly snatched from us.

One of the greatest actors of his generation, he was an acting colossus, a performer who would have felt just as comfortable reading Shakespeare on Broadway as playing a middle class everyman in a Richard Curtis film and a dastardly villain in a Hollywood blockbuster.

And much like the late Bowie, he too was a working class London lad done good. Born in Acton, he won a scholarship to a junior school where he would go on to discover the joys of drama, eventually finding himself a graduate of RADA.

Finding fame with the 1982 BBC adaptation of Barchester Towers, The Barchester Chronicles, he first picked up attention stateside as the male lead in 1987’s Les Liasons Dangeruses, which went to Broadway and won him a Tony nomination.

Then came his biggest break of all. Appearing in Die Hard as German terrorist Hans Gruber, in Rickman’s hands, this slimy thorn in the side for John McClane would become one of the most famous cinematic villains of all-time, inevitably leading to a few similar roles (who can forget his turn as Robin Hood’s arch nemesis the Sheriff of Nottingham in Prince of Thieves?) along with some other great on-screen moments.

He might not have won an Oscar (he did win a Golden Globe in the title role for the 1996's HBO biopic of Rasputin) but you can bet when the 88th Academy Awards take place again next month, there will be an empty seat somewhere.

(Image: Rex)

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