Offered to Rickman just two days after he arrived in LA aged 41, this is the role that catapulted the actor to stardom. As the sardonic and brilliant terrorist mastermind Gruber, Rickman stole the show from ostensible star Bruce Willis; none of the sequels’ villains could come near to his performance.
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves – Sheriff of Nottingham (1991)
Another brilliantly villainous role, Rickman’s Sheriff was the saving grace of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Outrageously evil, the flamboyant baddie was an incredibly fun performance from the actor – and a Bafta-winning one in the process.
Truly Madly Deeply – Jamie (1991)
This film from Anthony Minghella saw a brilliant lead performance from Rickman as Jamie, a deceased cellist who returns from the dead to reunite with his girlfriend (Juliet Stevenson). Profoundly moving, it was yet another sign of Rickman’s versatility.
Dogma – The Metatron (1999)
When searching for the voice of God, it’s hard to think of actors better suited than the distinctive tones of Alan Rickman. Credit to Dogma for casting Rickman as the surly heavenly spokesman.
Love, Actually – Harry (2003)
Of all the storylines in this modern Christmas classic, it’s Rickman and Emma Thompson’s disintegrating marriage that proves the most moving and believable.
Galaxy Quest – Alexander Dane (1999)
Rickman showed his lighter side in this warm-hearted parody of Star Trek, as a typecast actor struggling to escape his role from a beloved sci-fi series. Funny but utterly believable, it’s another perfect supporting turn.
The Harry Potter series – Severus Snape (2001-11)
To many, this is the Alan Rickman role that defines the actor. After being personally chosen for the Harry Potter character by JK Rowling, Rickman spent eight films and ten years portraying steely Potions master Severus Snape, a man tortured by loss and jealousy to become a bitter yet ultimately noble man.
It may have been Rowling’s novels that created Snape, but Rickman brought him to life – and most fans will never forget him for it.