January 14, 2016 2:23 PM EST

Ralph Fiennes, who starred alongside Alan Rickman in the Harry Potter series, remembered his co-star Thursday as “unique” and a “dear friend,” after the actor died of cancer at the age of 69.

“Alan was a dear friend, a friend to many and deeply supportive of the work of other actors,” Fiennes said in a statement. “I cannot believe he is gone and we are the poorer for it. But his spirit and great generosity live on the hearts of everyone who knew him – and of course in his brilliant work. A unique Actor – Funny, acutely perceptive, extraordinarily loyal and giving – Alan cared.”

The two played very different villains in the series, with Fiennes’ character Voldemort eventually ordering the death of Rickman’s Severus Snape. At the premiere of one of the last films in the Harry Potter series, Fiennes praised his co-star, saying Rickman ” is a friend and who I have admired for a long time. We have a great scene, a face-off, in the next film.”

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