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Actor Alan Rickman, known for films including Harry Potter, Die Hard, Truly Madly Deeply and Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, has died at the age of 69.

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Rickman played the mysterious Professor Snape in all eight Harry Potter films

The star was suffering from cancer, his family said.

He became one of Britain’s best-loved acting stars thanks to roles including Professor Snape in the Harry Potter films and Hans Gruber in Die Hard.

He also won a Bafta Award for playing the Sheriff of Nottingham in 1991’s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

A family statement said: “The actor and director Alan Rickman has died from cancer at the age of 69. He was surrounded by family and friends.”

Ang Lee, who directed Rickman in Sense and Sensibility, called him a “brilliant actor… a soulful actor… a great human being”.

Actor Richard E Grant wrote on Twitter: “Farewell my friend. Your kindness & generosity ever since we met in LA in 1987 & ever since is incalculable. XX”

Harry Potter actor James Phelps, who played Fred Weasley, said on Twitter he was “shocked and sad” to hear the news. He wrote: “One of the nicest actors I’ve ever met. Thoughts and prayers with his family at this time.”

His twin brother Oliver Phelps, who played George Weasley, added: “Terribly sad news about the passing of Alan Rickman. A funny and engaging person who put a shy young actor at ease when I was on Harry Potter.”

TV star and Bafta ceremony host Stephen Fry wrote: “What desperately sad news about Alan Rickman. A man of such talent, wicked charm and stunning screen and stage presence. He’ll be sorely missed.”

Actor David Morrissey also paid tribute. He said: “So sad to hear the news of Alan Rickman. A wonderful actor and lovely man. Tragic news.”

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