Rickman's family confirmed the death on Thursday, according to multiple media outlets. The Golden Globe winner and two time Tony Award nominee was battling cancer.
"He was surrounded by family and friends," the family said in a statement to BBC.
Rickman, who worked on both stage and screen, is survived by his wife Rima Horton, whom he wed in 2012 after a 40-year romance.
The actor spent several years in the Royal Shakespeare Company after graduating from college in London. It was his 1986 role as Le Vicomte in Les Liaisons Dangereuses on Broadway that brought him both a Tony Award nomination and the attention of producer Joel Silver, who offered him his first film debut as the wicked and iconic Hans Gruber in 1988's Die Hard, BBC reports.
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The role led to a string of memorable screen performances in films like Truly Madly Deeply, Love Actually, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and Galaxy Quest.
He first appeared as Severus Snape in 2001's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, a role he continued through all eight films.
In recent years, he appeared in Lee Daniels' The Butler and directed 2014's A Little Chaos. His last performance will be in this year's Alice Through the Looking Glass.
In a statement, Love Actually co-star Emma Thompson described Rickman as the "ultimate ally".
"Alan was my friend and so this is hard to write because I have just kissed him goodbye. What I remember most in this moment of painful leave-taking is his humour, intelligence, wisdom and kindness," she said. "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."
Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling tweeted about the actor's death on Thursday.
"There are no words to express how shocked and devastated I am to hear of Alan Rickman's death. He was a magnificent actor & a wonderful man."
There are no words to express how shocked and devastated I am to hear of Alan Rickman's death. He was a magnificent actor & a wonderful man.— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) January 14, 2016
My thoughts are with Rima and the rest of Alan's family. We have all lost a great talent. They have lost part of their hearts.— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) January 14, 2016
Daniel Radcliffe, the star of the mega-popular series, posted a lengthy tribute to the actor on his Google Plus account.
"Alan Rickman is undoubtedly one of the greatest actors I will ever work with. He is also, one of the loyalest and most supportive people I've ever met in the film industry," Radcliffe wrote.
"As an actor he was one of the first of the adults on Potter to treat me like a peer rather than a child ... Film sets and theatre stages are all far poorer for the loss of this great actor and man."
Actress Emma Watson, who costarred in Harry Potter as Hermione Granger, wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday that she is "very sad" to learn the news of Rickman's death.
"I feel so lucky to have worked and spent time with such a special man and actor. I'll really miss our conversations. RIP Alan. We love you."
Actor Stephen Fry, the British actor who narrated the Harry Potter series for audiobooks wrote on Twitter that the news was "desperately sad."
"A man of such talent, wicked charm & stunning screen & stage presence," Fry wrote of Rickman. "He'll be sorely missed."
What desperately sad news about Alan Rickman. A man of such talent, wicked charm & stunning screen & stage presence. He'll be sorely missed— Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) January 14, 2016
The sneer that Alan Rickman gave to the Grim Reaper must've been DEVASTATING. #RIPAlanRickman— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) January 14, 2016
Michael Gambon, who played Professor Albus Dumbledore in the latter Harry Potter films, told BBC that Rickman was "a great friend."
"Everybody loved Alan. He was always happy and fun and creative and very, very funny," Gambon said. "He was intelligent ... he was a real man of the theater and the stage and that's how I think of Alan."
Actor James Phelps, who played Fred Weasley in the Harry Potter series posted his own tribute to the actor.
"Shocked & sad to hear Alan Rickman has passed away. One of the nicest actors I've ever met," Phelps tweeted.