‘Harry Potter’ actor Rickman, who directed play on pro-Palestinian activist, dies

Alan Rickman. Credit: Marie-Lan Nguyen via Wikimedia Commons.

(JNS.org) British film and stage actor Alan Rickman, best known for his roles as villain Hans Gruber in “Die Hard” and Professor Snape in the “Harry Potter” films, died from cancer on Thursday at age 69.

Rickman sparked an Israel-related controversy in 2005 over a play he directed, “My Name Is Rachel Corrie,” which was based on the diaries and emails of a pro-Palestinian American student activist who was killed in 2003 when she stood in front of an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) bulldozer to prevent the razing of a building. The IDF claims that Corrie’s death was an accident and that the building the military targeted contained exits to tunnels used for weapons smuggling.

Rickman, whose play garnered criticism from Jewish and pro-Israel groups, told Haaretz in 2007 that he was not trying to make a political statement through the work.

“I never imagined that the play would create such acute controversy,” he said. “Many Jews supported it. The New York producer was Jewish and we held a discussion after every performance….Both Israelis and Palestinians participated in the discussions and there was no shouting in the theater. People simply listened to each other.”

Posted on January 14, 2016 .