British director Alan Rickman attends the premiere of film "A Little Chaos" during the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival in Toronto, Canada, on Sept. 13, 2014. (Xinhua/Zou Zheng)
LONDON, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) -- British actor Alan Rickman who played the sarcastic wizard teacher Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films has died at the age of 69.
A member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Rickman appeared in a number of major films, including Die Hard, Love Actually and Robin Hood Prince of Thieves, collecting a series of awards for his work. His great love was appearing on stage in the theatre.
He died at his London home, with the family saying he was suffering from cancer.
The author J K Rowling once said Rickman was a 'gift of a character' appearing in all eight Harry Potter films.
A brief statement issued in London by Rickman's family stated: "The actor and director Alan Rickman has died from cancer at the age of 69. He was surrounded by family and friends."
Rickman was instantly recognisable by his voice, notable for its languid diction. He won fans on every continent with his portrayal of the anti-hero Professor Snape, in the Harry Potter films.
Film and theatre critics have described him as one of the best loved and most admired British actors of the past 30 years.
In one of his many famous quotes, Rickman once said "Actors are agents of change. A film, a piece of theater, a piece of music, or a book can make a difference. It can change the world."
Within news of his death being announced, tributes started to pour in from fans as well as the world of entertainment.