Alan Rickman (1946-2016)

There have been obituaries that were somewhat difficult to write.

This one is particularly rough.

Alan Rickman first came to my attention – in fact, to the attention of most people -- back in 1988 when he portrayed Hans Gruber, the villain of the movie Die Hard.  Like so many others, I became of fan.

Rickman had already made a name for himself on stage and television in Great Britain.  In 1982, he was one of the stars of the series The Barchester Chronicles, portraying clergyman Obadiah Slope.  In 1985, he was cast as Vicomte de Valmont in the Royal Shakespeare Company London stage production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses.  The play moved to New York, where Rickman was nominated for a Tony Award.

He went on to do numerous films.  Die Hard seemed to peg him as a villain, which he could play brilliantly.  Quigley Down UnderRobin Hood, Prince of Thieves -- for which he won the BAFTA for Supporting Actor.  Sweeney Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street – where he proved to be a fine singer as well as actor.

In 1996, Rickman played the title role of the “Mad Monk” Grigori Rasputin in the HBO film Rasputin.  His performance won him more acclaim and several awards, including the Emmy, the Golden Globe, and the Screen Actors Guild.

But Rickman also played wonderfully romantic and sensitive roles.  Truly Madly DeeplySense and Sensibility (my personal favorite).  Blow Dry.  And sometimes, he played all-too-human characters, in Love Actually, Something the Lord Made, and Snow Cake.

Then there were the comedies.  DogmaBottle ShockGalaxy QuestCBGB.  Rickman also lent his voice to films and TV series, such as Alice in Wonderland and the upcoming sequel Alice Through the Looking Glass, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and King of the Hill.

However, we can’t ignore the role for which Rickman will be most remembered: Severus Snape.  I hesitate to say much about the Harry Potter movies.  After all, there could still be some who have not seen the films or read the books and still plan to.  I will say that Alan Rickman led me to read the books in the first place.  When I heard he’d been cast as Snape, I knew I’d want to see the first movie, if only for him.  I decided it was time to find out what all the fuss over Harry Potter was about.  Well, of course, I got hooked right away.  And Snape is still my favorite character.  Mysterious.  Brooding.  Irritable.  But always interesting.  It was a role Rickman was reluctant to take, until a talk with author J.K. Rowling convinced him to do so.  As a result, we see a great actor build a character and draw us in throughout all eight movies in the series.

Though Rickman did receive nominations and awards, one honor never came to him.  He never received an Oscar nomination.  And that is truly a shame.

I mentioned Die Hard.  As I walked out of the theater after seeing the movie for the first time, I said to my friends, “Who is that actor?  He's great!”  Maybe it was his acting.  Maybe it was his looks.  But let’s face it.  A lot of us just love that voice.  Deep.  Rich.  Enchanting.  No matter the role, there was that incredibly beautiful voice.

It’s hard to think of that voice as being silenced now.  And that Alan Rickman will no longer act or direct more movies.  But we do have wonderful films to enjoy over and over again.

Now… and always.


Flickr:  CC          : Alan Rickman          Photo: Katexic Publications