Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman (Photo: REX/Shutterstock)
The news of Alan Rickman’s sudden passing Thursday at the age of 69 leaves a massive hole in the British theater community. Rickman, most famous for his roles in the Harry Potter films, Die Hard, and Love Actually, was also a classical Shakespearean actor, a director, and, to many in the industry, a friend.
In a statement, his frequent co-star Emma Thompson recalled what she loved most about Rickman:
Alan was my friend and so this is hard to write because I have just kissed him goodbye.
What I remember most in this moment of painful leave-taking is his humour, intelligence, wisdom, and kindness. His capacity to fell you with a look or lift you with a word. The intransigence which made him the great artist he was — his ineffable and cynical wit, the clarity with which he saw most things, including me, and the fact that he never spared me the view. I learned a lot from him.
He was the finest of actors and directors. I couldn’t wait to see what he was going to do with his face next. I consider myself hugely privileged to have worked with him so many times and to have been directed by him.
He was the ultimate ally. In life, art, and politics. I trusted him absolutely.
He was, above all things, a rare and unique human being and we shall not see his like again.
Harry Potter auther J.K. Rowling tweeted that she was “shocked and devastated” by the loss.
There are no words to express how shocked and devastated I am to hear of Alan Rickman’s death. He was a magnificent actor & a wonderful man.— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling)January 14, 2016
My thoughts are with Rima and the rest of Alan’s family. We have all lost a great talent. They have lost part of their hearts.— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling)January 14, 2016
Daniel Radcliffe, who spent 10 years facing off against Rickman in Harry Potter, recalled how supportive Rickman was of his career:
Alan Rickman is undoubtedly one of the greatest actors I will ever work with. He is also, one of the loyalest and most supportive people I’ve ever met in the film industry. He was so encouraging of me both on set and in the years post-Potter. I’m pretty sure he came and saw everything I ever did on stage both in London and New York. He didn’t have to do that. I know other people who’ve been friends with him for much much longer than I have and they all say “if you call Alan, it doesn’t matter where in the world he is or how busy he is with what he’s doing, he’ll get back to you within a day”.
People create perceptions of actors based on the parts they played so it might surprise some people to learn that contrary to some of the sterner (or downright scary) characters he played, Alan was extremely kind, generous, self-deprecating and funny. And certain things obviously became even funnier when delivered in his unmistakable double-bass.
As an actor he was one of the first of the adults on Potter to treat me like a peer rather than a child. Working with him at such a formative age was incredibly important and I will carry the lessons he taught me for the rest of my life and career. Film sets and theatre stages are all far poorer for the loss of this great actor and man.
Emma Watson also shared a short statement on Facebook, writing: “I’m very sad to hear about Alan today. I feel so lucky to have worked and spent time with such a special man and actor. I’ll really miss our conversations. RIP Alan. We love you.”
Oliver and James Phelps, who played George and Fred Weasley in the Harry Potter films also tweeted about the loss.
Terribly sad news about the passing of Alan Rickman. A funny and engaging person who put a shy young actor at ease when I was on HP.— Oliver Phelps (@OliverPhelps)January 14, 2016
Shocked & sad to hear Alan Rickman has passed away. One of the nicest actors I’ve ever met.Thoughts and prayers with his family at this time— James Phelps (@James_Phelps)January 14, 2016
— Warwick Davis (@WarwickADavis)January 14, 2016
Sir Michael Gambon, who played Albus Dumbledore, friend/foe of Rickman’s Severus Snape, told BBC Radio 4: “Everybody loved Alan. He was always happy and fun and creative and very, very funny. He had a great voice, he spoke wonderfully well.”
“He was intelligent, he wrote plays, he directed a play. So he was a real man of the theatre and the stage and that’s how I think of Alan.”
Longtime friend Stephen Fry tweeted about the actor’s death, calling it “desperately sad news.”
What desperately sad news about Alan Rickman. A man of such talent, wicked charm & stunning screen & stage presence. He’ll be sorely missed— Stephen Fry (@stephenfry)January 14, 2016
Tributes have come in from plenty of other stars who both worked with and were inspired by Rickman:
I do not want my heroes to die! Alan Rickman is dead & he was another hero. Alan - thank you for being with us. We are sorry you had to go— Eddie Izzard (@eddieizzard)January 14, 2016
Everyone who knew Alan Rickman- or worked with him or watched his brilliant performances, feels this awful loss pic.twitter.com/pKOxFYYMUM— mia farrow (@MiaFarrow)January 14, 2016
Farewell my friend.Your kindness & generosity ever since we met in LA in 1987 & ever since is incalculable.XX pic.twitter.com/BCUkCxMFj5— Richard E. Grant (@RichardEGrant)January 14, 2016
Goodbye Alan Rickman. You were genius in Harry Potter.— Boy George (@BoyGeorge)January 14, 2016
Dreadful to hear Alan Rickman has passed away. A wonderful actor and friend. What a sad day.— Richard Madden (@_richardmadden)January 14, 2016
Devastated to hear of Alan Rickman’s passing. This week Britain has lost two of it’s greats, far too young. pic.twitter.com/C7CrtR0Ryx— Douglas Booth (@DouglasBooth)January 14, 2016
Another legend gone, another magical man taken away to entertain the heavens, It’s gonna be mighty fun up there. Rest well Alan Rickman X— russell tovey (@russelltovey)January 14, 2016
#AlanRickman.. Auditioned me as a v young actor..he sent the most lovely, encouraging hand written note.. I still cherish it .. And him. RIP— Kevin McKidd (@TheRealKMcKidd)January 14, 2016
He did so much brilliant work but Alan Rickman in Galaxy Quest: one of the greatest comedy performances ever. RIP pic.twitter.com/E9sNR4rG8E— David Schneider (@davidschneider)January 14, 2016
— Charlie Sheen (@charliesheen)January 14, 2016
Confirming Rickman’s death, his family wrote that “[h]e was surrounded by family and friends.”