Rickman was born Alan Sidney Patrick Rickman in Hammersmith, London to a working-class family, the son of Margaret Doreen Rose (née Bartlett), a housewife, and Bernard Rickman, a factory worker.
father died when Rickman
was eight, leaving his
mother to raise their four children mostly alone.
married again, but divorced his
stepfather after three years.
"There was one love in her
Rickman excelled at calligraphy and watercolour painting, and he won a scholarship to Latymer Upper School in London, where he started getting involved in drama.
After graduating, Rickman attended Chelsea College of Art and Design and made his way as a graphic designer, which he considered a more stable occupation than acting.
"Drama school wasn't considered the sensible thing to do at 18," he
received a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
(RADA) which he
attended from 1972-1974.
While there, he
works and supported himself working as a dresser for Sir Nigel Hawthorne and Sir Ralph Richardson, and left after winning several prizes such as the Emile Littler Prize
, the Forbes Robertson Prize, and the Bancroft Gold Medal.
After graduating from the RADA
worked extensively with various British repertory and experimental theatre groups on productions including The Seagull
and Snoo Wilson's The Grass Widow at the Royal Court Theatre, and has appeared three times at the Edinburgh International Festival.
In 1978, he
played with the Court Drama Group, performing in several plays, most notably Romeo And Juliet and A View from the Bridge.
While working with the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) he starred in, among other things, As You Like It.
would be the male lead in the 1985 Royal Shakespeare Company
production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses, directed by Christopher Hampton, which would be a sellout.
When the show went across the Atlantic in 1986, Rickman
went with it to Broadway and there earned a Tony Award nomination for his
into writing comedy and proceeded to direct several of her
"If people want to know who I am, it is all in the work", he
To television audiences he
also became known as Mr. Slope in the BBC's
1980s adaptation of Barchester Towers.
played future Irish Taoiseach and president Éamon de Valera in the film Michael Collins alongside Liam Neeson as the title character.
While playing romantic leads in British movies (Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility; Jamie in Truly, Madly, Deeply), he
was generally typecast in Hollywood films as an over-the-top villain (German terrorist Hans Gruber in Die Hard and the Sheriff of Nottingham
in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves).
role in Die Hard earned him a spot on the American Film Institute's list of the "100 Best Heroes/Villains" as the 46th best villain in film history.
performance of Sheriff of Nottingham
in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves also made his
name known by the wide media as one of the best actors to give portrayal as villain in films.
has also played comedic roles in films such as Galaxy Quest, Dogma, and Love Actually
won a Golden Globe
and an Emmy for his
performance as Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny in 1996, and was also nominated for an Emmy for his
work as Dr. Alfred Blalock in 2004's Something the Lord Made.
appeared in the Harry Potter films as the Potions professor Severus Snape.
was cast in 2005 as the voice of Marvin the Paranoid Android in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy film.
and David Learner, who occupied Marvin's costume for the TV adaptation and stage shows, studied together at RADA
has performed on stage in Noel Coward's romantic comedy Private Lives, which transferred to Broadway after its successful run in London at the Albery Theatre and ended in September 2002.
Rickman had reunited with his Les Liaisons Dangereuses co-star Lindsay Duncan, and director Howard Davies for this Tony Award-winning production.
Rickman has also been featured in several musical works - most notably in a song composed by the English songwriter Adam Leonard.
was one of the many artists who recited Shakespearian sonnets on the 2002-released When Love Speaks CD, and is also featured prominently in a music video by the band Texas entitled In Demand, which premiered on Europe MTV in August 2000.
In the video, lead singer Sharleen Spiteri danced the tango with Rickman: the clip was nominated for Best British Video at the Brit Awards.
played Severus Snape, the seemingly sinister potions master of J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter saga, in the five films of that series to date.
Rickman directed the play My Name Is Rachel Corrie in April 2005 at the Royal Court Theatre, London, and won the Theatre Goers' Choice Awards for best director.
In 1995 Rickman
turned down the role of Alec Trevelyan in the 1995 James Bond film Goldeneye.
Rickman has taken issue with being labeled as a "villain actor", citing the fact that he has not portrayed a stock villain character since the Sheriff of Nottingham in 1991.
has further said that he
has continued to portray characters of complex and varying emotions, and does not think it is fair to assign characters a label of good or evil, hero or villain. Prior to the book release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Rickman
had spoken on occasion about Snape quite easily, but with the controversy of the character following the events of the sixth book, Rickman
refused to speak on the character.
In 2007, Rickman
appeared in the critically-acclaimed Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street directed by Tim Burton; he
played the role of Judge Turpin, the main antagonist.
According to Miami Herald
, Rickman performance "makes the judge's villainy something to simultaneously savor and despise", with his
"oozing moral rot and arrogance".
was chosen by Empire as one of the 100 Sexiest Stars in film history (No 34) in 1995 and ranked No 59 in Empire's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" list in October 1997.
Rickman became Vice-Chairman of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in 2003.