Unbelievable. Actor Alan Rickman is dead of cancer at 69. Just like David Bowie.
I've known about Rickman ever since the first "Die Hard." From there, the man went on to have a stellar career in movies, rocketing up to A-list status. He played many memorable characters besides Hans Gruber. Among them: he was the Sheriff of Nottingham in "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves"; he was The Metatron in "Dogma"; he was Alexander Dane in "Galaxy Quest"; he was Judge Turpin in "Sweeney Todd"; and of course, he was Severus Snape in all eight of the Harry Potter movies.*
About a year ago, Rickman had also made a short video called "Epic Tea Time with Alan Rickman," which I found hilarious. As you can see in the video, one of Rickman's signature talents was that he could smoothly combine being funny with being sinister. I sometimes wonder why he never appeared in a Quentin Tarantino film, given Tarantino's own tendency to mix darkness and humor (I discuss this a bit in my review of "Django Unchained").
Rickman was not only an expert at fusing the sinister and the humorous: he also made it sexy to sound nasal. Americans get ragged all the time for their nasal voices (it's true: we do sound like Gilda Radner), but Rickman, from across the pond, allowed us to revel without shame in the basso vibrations of his substantial nasal cavity. His distinctive voice became the target of light-hearted celebrity impressions; here's a now-classic clip of Benedict Cumberbatch having a "Rickman-off" impression contest with Jimmy Fallon.
It's a shame to know that we now live in a world without Alan Rickman. I had heard not a peep about his cancer; only a few minutes ago, I saw people on Twitter writing RIPs for him. Let me add my sad voice to the throng. Alan Rickman was a true entertainer who obviously knew better than to take himself too seriously. That's a good trait in an actor, and a good trait in a human being. Mr. Rickman, you will be sorely missed.
*Rickman's filmography consists of far more than the movies I've mentioned, but I wanted to mention only the movies I've actually seen.