Alan Rickman's career, although associated with a handful of roles, was more varied than people realised.

Beginning his career in his mid-thirties, Rickman came to international prominence at the age of 42 when he starred in John McTiernan's bonafide action classic 'Die Hard' as the villainous Hans Gruber. From then on, Rickman forged a career that saw him work alongside some of the biggest names in the industry and turned him into a household name.

Here's just a small sampling of some of his finest work.

 

5. 'HARRY POTTER & THE DEATHLY HALLOWS, PART II' - "You have your mother's eyes..."

Severus Snape is often cited as one of the most beloved children's literary characters of the past twenty years and it's easy to see why when you read the books. However, it can be said that Alan Rickman's performance in the role was what truly brought it to life for both readers and viewers alike. His icy, baritone voice complimented his grave persona, so much so that you'd almost think the role was written for him. His greatest scene in the series, however, sees him working alongside fellow British thesp Ralph Fiennes. It's a brilliantly staged scene that shows, more than anything, Rickman was able to command a screen with the least amount of energy needed.

 

4. 'GALAXY QUEST' - "I used to be an actor, now look at me!"

Often overlooked in Alan Rickman's filmography is 'Galaxy Quest', probably the best sci-fi comedy of the last twenty years. The cast of a 'Star Trek'-esque TV series are unwittingly drawn into an actual intergalactic war by aliens who have taken their TV series as fact and inspiration. Weird enough on its own, but it's how it skewers acting itself that makes that bit better - thanks, in part, to Alan Rickman's bitingly funny Dr. Lazarus. Clearly taking aim at Patrick Stewart's run as Captain Picard, Rickman played a classically-trained actor who's forced to slum it on a sci-fi TV show. In fact, of the movie itself, Patrick Stewart commented after seeing 'Galaxy Quest' that "no one laughed louder or longer in the cinema than I did."

 

3. 'SENSE AND SENSIBILITY' - "There is nothing lost that may be found if sought."

Although he was often recognised for his villainous roles, Rickman made no secret of the fact that he preferred less one-note roles. John Sessions remarked as much on 'QI', citing his role as Col. Brandon in Sense and Sensibility, before breaking into a pitch-perfect impression of him. Again, Rickman's gravelly, baritone voice is in full effect as he recites a poem to Kate Winslet's ailing Marianne Dashwood. The whole scene, from the costumes to the music to Rickman's precise, considered reading, is all so decadent and elegant.

 

2. 'MICHAEL COLLINS' - "The Irish people established the republic, it can only be disestablished by the Irish people."

As a historically accurate piece of information, 'Michael Collins' is anything but. However, as a piece of film, it is entertaining for its colourful flourishes and strong performances by Liam Neeson, Alan Rickman and Gerard McSorley. The film was initially controversial for how it portrayed Eamonn DeValera, however Rickman can't be faulted for disappearing into the role. Taking on his mannerisms to a tee and flattening his voice and accent to recreate Dev's, Rickman played the role beautifully.

 

 

1. 'DIE HARD' - "I am going to count to three. There will not be a four."

Without a shadow of a doubt, Hans Gruber is the role that he will be ultimately remembered for. Regularly topping polls and lists of the greatest on-screen villains, Rickman's portrayal of the quasi-terrorist / armed robber was pitch perfect in every sense of the word. His oily, refined mannerisms became a textbook for future action films and their villains and, sure enough, everyone's got a favourite line. Here's ours.