Celebrated British actor Alan Rickman has passed away at the age of 69. The veteran stage and film performer died of cancer in London, "surrounded by family and friends," said a family statement Thursday. Rickman is famous for his acting career, which included roles in "Die Hard" and as Severus Snape in the "Harry Potter" films.

Though Rickman never won an Academy Award, he did take home several others, including a BAFTA Award, the British equivalent of an Oscar. In 1996, Rickman won a Primetime Emmy, Screen Actors Guild Award and Golden Globe for his role as Grigori Rasputin in "Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny."

Rickman is survived by his wife, Rima Horton. The 69-year-old actor was born Feb. 21, 1946, in London and began his acting career in 1978. He worked on stage with the Royal Shakespeare Company and in TV roles before getting his first film role in "Die Hard" at age 41. Starring in "Die Hard" opened up more villain roles for Rickman, and he went on to play the sheriff of Nottingham in "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves." 

After playing villains early in his career, Rickman went on to play a wide range of roles, including parts in the movies "Love Actually," "Galaxy Quest," "Dogma" and "Alice in Wonderland." The actor also voiced Absolem the Caterpillar in the upcoming "Alice in Wonderland" sequel, "Alice Through the Looking Glass," which comes out May 27.

Rickman was proud of his career and believed art was something that had a positive effect on people, once saying that "actors are agents of change." "A film, a piece of theater, a piece of music or a book can make a difference," he said. "It can change the world."