Date of Birth: February 21, 1946
Alan Rickman was born to Irish and Welsh parents in Hammersmith, London, England. His father, who was a painter and decorator, died of cancer when the actor was eight, leaving behind Rickman, his mother, and three siblings. Initially, Rickman wanted to become a graphic artist, so he attended the Royal College of Art. When he was 26, he won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), and it was there that he began acting.
Rickman began his career on stage, building up a sizable resume before embarking on a film career. He began to make his name on the stage, first appearing in repertory and then landing lead roles in London productions. He gained particular acclaim for his portrayal of Valmont in a West End production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses, eventually reprising his role for the Broadway production and winning a Tony nomination.
Rickman then went on to do television, beginning with the BBC version of Shakespeares' Romeo and Juliet, in which he played Tybalt. This successful performance was followed up with a couple of mini series, but it wasn't until his work in the big screen that his name truly began to shine.
In 1988, he landed his first feature film role in Die Hard. Playing the ruthless, genteel villain in the hit movie and others such as Quigley Down Under (1990) and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991) made his name known to the moviegoers. But his talent was not to be contained in the villainous persona. Other works such as The January Man (1989), Sense and Sensibility (1995) and the television film, Rasputin (1996), proved that Rickman was capable of playing just about any character.
In 1997, Rickman branched out into directing, making his debut with The Winter Guest, starring real-life mother and daughter Phyllida Law and Emma Thompson. The film won a number of positive notices. In 2000, he won the plum role of the mysterious Professor Severus Snape, playing him with twitchy perfection in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001) and all the subsequent Harry Potter films. He also played a role in the musical film Sweeney Todd (2007), starring Johnny Depp.
He has lived with politician Rima Horton since 1977.