Alan Rickman, one of the best-loved and most recognizable British actors of his generation, died Thursday after a battle with cancer, his family announced. Rickman, who was 69 years old, first attracted widespread attention in 1985 playing the Vicomte de Valmont in Christopher Hampton’s stageplay of Les Liaisons Dangereuses. Rickman went on to play many memorable roles, such as Professor Snape in the Harry Potter movies and Hans Gruber in Die Hard. Rickman developed a specialty for playing pantomime villains; in addition to the terror ringleader Gruber, he also found acclaim as the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves and as Rasputin in a 1995 HBO production. He is survived by his wife, Rima Horton, whom he met in 1965 and married in 2012.