Today’s Google Doodle celebrates English actor Alan Rickman. With a deep, magnetic voice and endless charm, he’s known for his magical performances in films like Harry Potter and Die Hard. On this day in 1987, Rickman performed in ‘Les Liaisons Dangereuses’, a Broadway play that was instrumental in launching his career.
Alan Rickman was born on February 21, 1946 in West London, England. A natural painter, Rickman became interested in different art forms after being encouraged by his teachers and family. He was especially taken with acting. After starring in school plays, he earned a scholarship to continue pursuing this interest at Latymer Upper School in London.
After secondary school, Rickman studied graphic design at Chelsea College of Art and Design and the Royal College of Art. After graduating, he started a design company with close college friends while participating in the amateur Group Court Drama Club. At age 26, Rickman left his company and decided to seriously pursue acting, earning a spot at RADA, one of the most prestigious acting schools in the world.
A few years later, he joined the Royal Shakespeare Company, where he appeared in The Tempest and Love’s Labour’s Lost. He struck gold in 1985 when he starred as anti-hero Le Vicomte de Valmont in the play Les Liaisons Dangereuses (Dangerous Liaisons). After earning a Tony nomination for his performance, he began receiving offers to act in films.
In 1988, Rickman starred as criminal mastermind Hans Gruber in the film Die Hard. The character is now considered one of the most iconic villains in cinematic history. The film’s success led to Rickman playing similar antagonist roles in films like Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. His career trajectory continued throughout the 1990s with roles in Sense and Sensibility (1995) and Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny (1996), the latter of which he received an Emmy and Golden Globe Award for.
In 2001, Rickman starred in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone as the scene-stealing Severus Snape. His intimidating, scary, and captivating performance saw him star in the following seven Harry Potter films, becoming an international sensation.
Over the course of his career, Rickman received numerous acting nominations and awards and even directed three plays and two films. He’s remembered for his iconic roles on-screen, his philanthropy, and his kind and sensitive nature off-screen.