Actor Alan Rickman, who starred in several stage productions and films including the Harry Potter movies and Love Actually, died Thursday in London after battling cancer, The Guardian reports. He was 69.

Born in London, Rickman studied graphic design and worked at a newspaper because he didn't consider acting to be a "sensible" career. But after three years of running his own graphic design business, he changed his mind in the early 1970s and enrolled in the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

Rickman went on to become a star of the British stage, beginning when he was nominated for a Tony Award for playing the Vicomte de Valmont in a 1986 production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses. In the 2000s, he appeared onstage in London and Dublin, as well as on Broadway in productions including Cleopatra and Seminar. He was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

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Known for his memorable voice and for often playing villains, Rickman's onscreen breakout role came in 1988, when he played villain Hans Gruber in Die Hard, opposite Bruce Willis. He went on to play several other adversaries, including the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves(1991) and, perhaps most memorably, Severus Snape in the Harry Potter movies.

He also won a Golden Globe, an Emmy and a Screen Actors Guild Award for portraying the title character in the 1995 HBO film Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny.

Other memorable parts included starring roles in Truly, Madly, Deeply (1991), Sense and Sensibility (1995), and Love Actually (2003).

Rickman also tried his hand at directing plays and films, helming his frequent co-star Emma Thompson in the 1995 movie The Winter Guest. Last year, he directed Kate Winslet in A Little Chaos. He also directed the play My Name is Rachel Corrie in 2005.

Rickman is survived by his wife, Rima Horton. The pair met as teenagers, began dating in 1965, and were married in 2012.