Thursday, January 14, 2016

Alan Rickman 1946-2016

“I can teach you how to bewitch the mind and ensnare the senses. I can tell you how to bottle fame, brew glory, and even put a stopper in death.”

Actor and theatre-director Alan Rickman has passed away at 69 years old.

Born in Acton, London to a working class family, Alan Rickman studied art and design in his early years before taking on an interest in acting. He attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and while there, studied Shakespeare and worked for established actors such as Nigel Hawthorne and Sir Ralph Richardson…along with winning several acting prizes.

Moving on professionally, he worked with various British theatre groups before landing a role in the 1985 Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of LES LIAISONS DANGEREUSES, which earned him a Tony Award nomination.

Seeking a film career, he went to Los Angeles in the late 1980’s, and within the first few days of his arrival, was cast as the terrorist Hans Gruber in John McTiernan’s DIE HARD (1988). Rickman’s portrayal of the cold and educated vicious villain was a perfect foil to Bruce Willis’ everyman-hero, and the performance would earn him a spot in the American Film Institute’s 100 Heroes and Villains list; helping elevate DIE HARD to a classic status.

He was a diverse actor who would play romantic leads in SENSE AND SENSIBILITY (1995), and TRULY, MADLY, DEEPLY (1991). But he couldn’t resist playing the Big Bad again, and in 1991 would play the Sheriff of Nottingham in ROBIN HOOD: PRINCE OF THIEVES, opposite Kevin Costner. The performance would earn him a BAFTA award. He would dabble in television, and as the “mad monk” in the HBO production of RASPUTIN: DARK SERVANT OF DESTINY (1996), Rickman would win a Golden Globe, a SAG award, and an Emmy.

In 2001, he would become a permanent figure in pop culture when he accepted the role of the ambiguous character Professor Severus Snape in the HARRY POTTER franchise, which would last eight films. The character would eventually take a tragic, heroic turn…making Rickman’s Snape…a character which was hated early on…beloved.

Other notable roles included MICHAEL COLLINS (1996), DOGMA (1999), GALAXY QUEST (1999), LOVE ACTUALLY (2003), THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY (2005), PERFUME: THE STORY OF A MURDERER (2006), SWEENEY TODD (2007), and THE BUTLER (2013). He voiced the caterpillar in Tim Burton’s ALICE IN WONDERLAND in 2010, and would reprise the role in the 2016 sequel.

Empire magazine would rank him no. 59 in the Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time in 1997, and would also rank him the 19th best actor over the age of 50.


Like most, this Blogger was introduced to Alan Rickman in DIE HARD, where the well-dressed man with the most unique voice and delivery ever heard became a foe on-screen that was to be feared and respected. Rickman changed the way the old mustache-twirling bad guy operated, and the industry would pattern their baddies after him for decades to come. As great as he was in DIE HARD, this Blogger holds Rickman’s performance as the crooked Sheriff of Nottingham in PRINCE OF THIEVES as his personal favorite. This Sheriff wasn’t just a bad guy, but a flawed one who made mistakes and acted human; once again turning the typical bad-guy role upside down. As the tragic character-hero in the HARRY POTTER franchise, Rickman would generate more emotion than any other character, and would become a study in heroes and how they operate. And here is where Rickman’s massive cross-generational impact can be felt. The young will remember him as Snape, while the old will relate him to Hans Gruber…two characters that he made his. And perhaps the way both generations will remember him can be summed up in the famous line he spoke in HARRY POTTER:


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