Tribute – Alan Rickman
Only a matter of hours after I write a tribute feature for David Bowie I return to my desk to remember the career of Alan Rickman, an immensely gifted actor who created some of the most memorable characters who have graced our screens. It has been made public that Alan Rickman has passed away, due to cancer, at age 69.
Born in 1946 in London, England, Rickman came from a background of English, Irish, Welsh, Catholic and Methodist to a modest working class family. Excelling in drama and art at an early age, Rickman focused his efforts on developing his skills drawing and watercolours. Although he was passionate about acting, drama school wasn’t considered a good use of his time and went into graphics work. Whilst breaking into acting is considered a young performers pursuit, Rickman decided to revisit this interest by enrolling in RADA in 1972. He appeared in many theatre productions, winning a Tony nomination for Les Liaisons Dangereuses. For some terrible reason his part in the cast was not brought to the big screen, with him being recast with John Malkovich.
After several TV roles Rickman did break onto the big screen at age 41 as terrorist leader Hans Gruber in Die Hard. From there Rickman became Hollywood’s go to guy for cool as ice villains including the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. He did eventually spread out into comedic roles in popular films such as Galaxy Quest. Before long his most famous role came around, that of Professor Snape in the eight part Harry Potter series. He was the character we loved to hate, and eventually feel sorry for, and reminded everyone of that one teacher who made their life hellish during school. He was clearly loving the role, dripping menace into every line and being one of the clear highlights of the series.
I gushed a bit about Snape in the last paragraph so I don’t get yelled at for this, but I’m going with Hans Gruber. The 80s were awash with action movies like Die Hard and one thing that made this film stand out was a villain we absolutely loved watching. He was smooth talking, vicious and manipulative and we couldn’t get enough of his dry responses to Bruce Willis’ cowboy action hero routine. Watch him delivering the line “Oh yes, what did you say to me before? Yippee-ki-yi, motherfucker.” It’s fantastic. The shadow of Hans Gruber lessened the subsequent sequels by his absence.
Rest in Peace, Alan Rickman.