Alan Rickman dies at 69

LONDON – British actor Alan Rickman, a classically trained stage star and sensual screen villain in the “Harry Potter” saga and other films, has died. He was 69.

Rickman’s family said that the actor died early Thursday in London after a battle with cancer.

Daniel Radcliffe, who played opposite Rickman in eight “Harry Potter” films, said Rickman was “undoubtedly one of the greatest actors I will ever work with.”

Born to a working-class London family in 1946 and trained at the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Rickman was often cast as the bad guy; with his rich, languid voice he could invest evil with wicked, irresistible relish.

His breakout role was as scheming French aristocrat the Vicomte de Valmont in an acclaimed 1985 Royal Shakespeare Company production of Christopher Hampton’s “Les Liaisons Dangereuses.”

Film roles included Hans Gruber, the psychopathic villain who tormented Bruce Willis in “Die Hard” in 1988; a deceased lover who consoles his bereaved partner in 1990’s “Truly Madly Deeply”; the wicked Sheriff of Nottingham in “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” in 1991; and a wayward husband in 2003 romantic comedy “Love Actually.”

Millions know him from the Potter films, in which he played Hogwarts teacher Severus Snape, who was either a nemesis or an ally – possibly both – to the titular teenage wizard.