Was English Actor Alan Rickman Anti-Israel?

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Renowned stage and film actor, who died Thursday, had written and directed a play about young American activist who died in the Gaza Strip and lost his pro-Israel fans as a result.

Actor Alan Rickman, who died on Thursday, January 14 at the age of 69, has been thought of as Jewish by some. However, most certainly he was not, reports Times of Israel. Rickman was in fact born in the Acton area of London to Welsh and Irish working class parents who were Catholic and Methodist.

According to Times of Israel, he first developed his career on the London stage, where he was a beloved figure with a highly recognizable languid drawl. He gained new fans as Professor Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films, but first found worldwide recognition when he appeared as Bruce Willis’s sneering nemesis Hans Gruber in the first “Die Hard” film, which came out in 1988.

Controversy in the Jewish community arose during his work as director of the 2005 play “My Name is Rachel Corrie,” which is about an American student killed by an Israeli army bulldozer while she was acting as a human shield, protesting the military’s presence in the Gaza Strip. Rickman and Guardian editor-in-chief Katharine Viner wrote the play based on Corrie’s emails, first staging it in London to positive reviews. When the play was scheduled to begin rehearsals at the New York Theatre Workshop, the theater decided to postpone it after several Jewish groups reacted negatively to the idea of staging the show.

Rickman told the Guardian at the time, “Rachel Corrie lived in nobody’s pocket but her own. Whether one is sympathetic with her or not, her voice is like a clarion in the fog and should be heard.” The play ended up being staged in dozens of other cities throughout the US, as well as in a commercial theater in New York.

Alan Sidney Patrick Rickman (21 February 1946 – 14 January 2016) was an English actor and director, known for playing a variety of roles on stage and screen, often as a complex antagonist. Rickman trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, and was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, performing in modern and classical theatre productions.

His first big television part came in 1982, but his big break was as the Vicomte de Valmont in the stage production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses in 1985, for which he was nominated for a Tony Award. Rickman’s other film roles included the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, for which he received the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, Jamie in Truly, Madly, Deeply, Colonel Brandon in Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility, and many more.

Rickman died of pancreatic cancer on January 14th, 2016 at the age of 69. His final film part, as the voice of Absolem in Alice Through the Looking Glass, will be released in May 2016.