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Love Actually and Harry Potter actor Alan Rickman has died, aged 69.

British actor, Alan Rickman – best known for roles in ‘Harry Potter’ as Professor Severus Snape and in ‘Love Actually’ has died.

Rickman’s family confirmed the British film and theatre star died on Thursday morning in hospital suffering from cancer. He was 69-years-old.

British actor, Alan Rickman – best known for roles in ‘Harry Potter’ as Professor Severus Snape and in ‘Love Actually’ has died.

His family said in a statement: “The actor and director Alan Rickman has died from cancer at the age of 69. He was surrounded by family and friends.”

Rickman, also known for roles in ‘Die Hard’, ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’, ‘Truly, Madly, Deeply’, ‘Sense and Sensibility’ and ‘Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves ‘was famed for his character portrayal of villains.

His death has prompted an outpouring of grief from fellow actors, writers and directors and millions of fans around the world, many of who have pointed out how David Bowie, who died just days earlier also of cancer, was too aged 69.

Former co-star Emma Thompson, with who Rickman starred in ‘Love Actually’ paid tribute to her “friend” and “ally”, who she describes as “a rare and unique human being”.

Thompson and Rickman acted together in several films, most notably as a husband and wife in ‘Love Actually.’

She said: “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. 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.”

J.K. Rowling – the Harry Potter author who created the character Prof Snape, one of Rickman’s most famous roles – tweeted her shock:

Daniel Radcliffe, who also starred alongside Rickman in ‘Harry Potter‘ expressed his sorrow writing a post on his Google Plus page.

“Film sets and theatre stages are all far poorer for the loss of this great actor and man.”

While Rickman was more famous for his nasty bad guy roles his very British wit was also much admired by fans.

There is no doubt though that the role fans most loved him for role was on ‘Harry Potter’. Among many of the anecdotes being shared today is Alan Rickman’s heartfelt goodbye letter to Severus Snape that he wrote for Empire in 2011.

It reads:

‘I have just returned from the dubbing studio where I spoke into a microphone as Severus Snape for absolutely the last time. On the screen were some flashback shots of Daniel, Emma, and Rupert from ten years ago. They were 12. I have also recently returned from New York, and while I was there, I saw Daniel singing and dancing (brilliantly) on Broadway. A lifetime seems to have passed in minutes.

Three children have become adults since a phone call with Jo Rowling, containing one small clue, persuaded me that there was more to Snape than an unchanging costume, and that even though only three of the books were out at that time, she held the entire massive but delicate narrative in the surest of hands.

It is an ancient need to be told in stories. But the story needs a great storyteller. Thanks for all of it, Jo.

Rickman is survived by his wife Rima Horton, whom he married secretly last year after meeting 50 years ago.

British actress Emma Watson was one of a chorus of stars who expressed their dismay. She tweeted:

Fans have taken to Twitter to quote one of his most famous lines as a way of expressing their grief, respect and love for Alan Rickman.

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