Alan Sidney Patrick Rickman (born 21 February 1946) is an English actor.
Rickman is a former member of the Royal Shakespeare Company in both modern and classical theatre productions. His breakout performance was his 1985 role as the Vicomte de Valmont in the play Les Liaisons Dangereuses, for which he was nominated for a Tony Award. Rickman is well known for his film performances as Hans Gruber in Die Hard, the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, for which he won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role in 1991 and Severus Snape in the Harry Potter film series.
Rickman’s other notable film roles include Jamie in Truly, Madly, Deeply, Colonel Brandon in Ang Lee’s 1995 film Sense and Sensibility, Harry in Love Actually, and P. L. O’Hara in An Awfully Big Adventure. More recently, he played Judge Turpin in the film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim’s musical of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. In 1995, he was awarded the Golden Globe, Emmy Award and Screen Actors Guild Award for his portrayal of Rasputin in Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny.
Rickman has won a BAFTA Award, a Golden Globe Award, an Emmy Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award.
Rickman was born on 21 February 1946 in Acton, London, England to a working class family, the son of Margaret Doreen Rose (née Bartlett), a housewife, and Bernard Rickman, a factory worker. His ancestry is English, Irish and Welsh; his father was Catholic and his mother a Methodist. He has one older brother, David (b. 1944), a graphic designer; a younger brother, Michael (b. 1947), a tennis coach; and a younger sister, Sheila (b. 1950) Rickman attended Derwentwater Primary School, in Acton, a school that followed the Montessori method of education.
When he was eight, Rickman’s father died, leaving his mother to raise him and his three siblings mostly alone. She married again, but divorced his stepfather after three years. “There was one love in her life”, Rickman later said of this. He excelled at calligraphy and watercolour painting. From Derwentwater Junior School he won a scholarship to Latymer Upper School in London, where he became involved in drama. After leaving Latymer, he attended Chelsea College of Art and Design and then the Royal College of Art. This education allowed him to work as a graphic designer for the radical newspaper the Notting Hill Herald, which he considered a more stable occupation than acting. “Drama school wasn’t considered the sensible thing to do at 18”, he said.
After graduation, Rickman and several friends opened a graphic design studio called Graphiti, but after three years of successful business, he decided that if he was going to pursue acting professionally, it was now or never. He wrote to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) requesting an audition and was awarded a place at RADA, which he attended from 1972 to 1974. While there, he studied Shakespeare’s works and supported himself by working as a dresser for Nigel Hawthorne and Sir Ralph Richardson. He left after winning several prizes, including the Emile Littler Prize, the Forbes Robertson Prize and the Bancroft Gold Medal.
In 1965, at the age of 19, Rickman met 18-year-old Rima Horton, who became his first girlfriend and would later be a Labour Party councillor on the Kensington and Chelsea London Borough Council (1986–2006) and an economics lecturer at the nearby Kingston University. They have lived together since 1977. In 2015 Rickman confirmed he and Rima Horton were married in a private ceremony in New York City in 2012. He is an active patron of the charity Saving Faces and honorary president of the International Performers’ Aid Trust, a charity that alleviates poverty in some of the world’s toughest conditions. When talking about politics, Rickman has said he “was born a card-carrying member of the Labour Party”.
He is the godfather of actor Tom Burke.