Alan Rickman celebrated with Google Doodle on anniversary of vital career moment

Alan Rickman has been celebrated with a Google Doodle on the 36th anniversary of one of his first leading theatre performances which the technology company described as “instrumental in launching his career”.

The English actor, who died in 2016 aged 69, had opened his Broadway performance as anti-hero Le Vicomte de Valmont in a production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses on April 30 1987.

Artist Helene Leroux, who drew the Google Doodle, said for her it was a “privilege to honour” Rickman’s life and career in the image – which shows him raising his eyebrows and surrounded by leaves – released on Sunday.

She added: “I wanted to illustrate Alan’s passion for creativity – represented in the soft watercolours of the background in reference to some of Alan’s most beautiful artwork.

“Following his death, Alan’s popular autobiographical diaries also captured the nation’s attention; these candid and entertaining reflections are represented by the fine, fountain-pen like scratches layered on a background resembling white lined paper.

“The branches either side of the Doodle are also inspired by his diary scribbles. His diverting on-screen performances have no doubt left a unique and lasting imprint on British culture, and I am thrilled that it lives on via my doodle today.”

In October, Madly, Deeply: The Alan Rickman Diaries were released posthumously, giving readers an intimate look at his life and career, and have this year been shortlisted for a prize at The British Book Awards.

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Dame Emma Thompson, who wrote Sense And Sensibility. (Ian West/PA)

Born on February 21 1946 in West London, Rickman graduated from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) before joining the Royal Shakespeare Company and having a breakthrough role in the 1982 BBC adaption of Anthony Trollope’s Barchester Chronicles.

Rickman also had theatre roles in The Tempest and Love’s Labour’s Lost before earning a Tony nomination as Valmont in a 1987 New York production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses (Dangerous Liaisons) – based on the French novel by Pierre Choderlos de Laclos.

He was then cast as German criminal mastermind Hans Gruber – who appeared in the American Film Institute’s list of the greatest movie villains – in the 1988 action film Die Hard.

Four years after that movie, he won a Bafta for best supporting actor for Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves, where he once more played an antagonist as the Sheriff of Nottingham.

That same year he was also nominated for a leading role Bafta for Truly, Madly, Deeply in which the actor stars as a ghost in the romantic comedy with Bend It Like Beckham actress Juliet Stevenson as his girlfriend, who is dealing with his death.

Rickman was once again Bafta-nominated for 1995 Jane Austen period drama Sense And Sensibility – which won Dame Emma Thompson a screenwriting Oscar – and 1996 biographical flick Michael Collins, before taking on the role of Russian mystic Grigori Rasputin.

The 1996 period drama Rasputin: Dark Servant Of Destiny, which chronicled the life of the Tsars in Russia before the October revolution in 1917 that was led by Bolsheviks, earned him both an Emmy and Golden Globe Award.

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Maggie Smith, Miriam Margolyes, Richard Harris and Alan Rickman star as Minerva MacGonagall, Professer Sprout, Albus Dumbledore and Severus Snape (Visual/allaction/PA)

Rickman then had arguably his best-known role as the complicated potions master Severus Snape in 2001’s Harry Potter At The Philosopher’s Stone.

He would go on to star in all eight of the Harry Potter films, set in JK Rowling’s Wizarding World, as he helped the hero of the story overcome the evil Voldemort – while also being hostile towards his pupil.

Ms Leroux also said: “(Rickman’s) unique and moving performance as Severus Snape touched the lives of so many, and he will forever be remembered as one of the greatest actors of his time, not only in the UK but across the globe.

“Alan brought Snape’s discerning personality to life on screen with his especially expressive brow, emphasised in the centre with a moving image.”

Also known for his role in the 2007 musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Rickman’s last film roles included 2014 period drama A Little Chaos and 2015 thriller Eye In The Sky.