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West Hampstead actress Emma Thompson leads emotional tributes to Alan Rickman

PUBLISHED: 16:50 14 January 2016 | UPDATED: 00:09 15 January 2016

Alan Rickman attends a BAFTA event last year    Picture : Yui Mok/PA Wire

Alan Rickman attends a BAFTA event last year Picture : Yui Mok/PA Wire

Actress Emma Thompson has paid tribute to her friend Alan Rickman, describing him as “the finest actor” and the “ultimate ally in life.”

Friends  Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson at an event for  ActionAid. Photo: Johnny Green/PA WireFriends Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson at an event for ActionAid. Photo: Johnny Green/PA Wire

The much-loved star died yesterday aged 69 after suffering from cancer.

He was a key member of the acting community in Hampstead and Highgate and an active supporter of Hampstead Theatre.

Hampstead Theatre’s artistic director Ed Hall told of his sadness at the death of the actor who will be “sorely missed.”

Emma Thompson, who appeared alongside Alan Rickman in movies Love Actually and Sense and Sensibility, said: “Alan was my friend and so this is hard to write because I have just kissed him goodbye.

Alan Rickman appearing in Bad Language at Hampstead Theatre picture: John HaynesAlan Rickman appearing in Bad Language at Hampstead Theatre picture: John Haynes

“What I remember most in this moment of painful leave-taking is his humor, intelligence, wisdom and kindness. His capacity to fell you with a look or lift you with a word. The intransigence which made him the great artist he was—his ineffable and cynical wit, the clarity with which he saw most things, including me, and the fact that he never spared me the view. I learned a lot from him.

“He was the finest of actors and directors. I couldn’t wait to see what he was going to do with his face next. I consider myself hugely privileged to have worked with him so many times and to have been directed by him.

He was the ultimate ally. In life, art and politics. I trusted him absolutely. He was, above all things, a rare and unique human being and we shall not see his like again.”

Hampstead Theatre’s s artistic director Ed Hall also paid tribute to Mr Rickman, whose picture hangs on the wall at the new building in Eton Avenue.

The young star first performed at Hampstead Theatre in a production of Bad Language in 1983.

Mr Hall said: “Back then the theatre was just a shed, and he has been involved ever since. Alan Rickman is part of the foundations of the Hampstead Theatre.

“In the last six years in particular he has been at the centre of our campaigning to get the theatre back on the map.”

The actor often spoke in interviews of his passion for the theatre and new plays.

Mr Hall said: “He had seen nearly all our productions and was always here supporting us in some way.”

He spoke of the sadness as he and colleagues heard the news. “We were in rehearsals when we heard. We are very very sad. He will be sorely missed by all at the Hampstead Theatre.”

Although he lived in West London, Mr Rickman spent a lot of time in the Hampstead and Highgate area where he had many close friends including Emma Thompson and actresses Juliet Stevenson, his costar in Truly Madly Deeply, and Lindsey Duncan.

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