Oh, and Alan Rickman

Like most Americans, my first cognizance of him was in Die Hard, which he could have stolen away from Bruce Willis if he’d wanted to, but gracefully didn’t, merely choosing almost to do so (he even let Willis’ character win in the end, which was nice of him). He did steal away Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and a damn good thing, too. And of course as Snape in the Harry Potter films he was simply definitive — a tragic bad guy who ended up not bad, but complicated, and still tragic.

But my favorite Rickman performances were not him in villain mode. I loved him in Galaxy Quest as the actor who knew he had slummed but found out just how much his performance meant to people (and one alien in particular), in Sense and Sensibility as a man whose kindness and longing was hidden behind reserve and regret, and in Truly Madly Deeply as a man who loved so much he came back from the other side of death, only to learn that he still had to let go. Rickman was a great villain. He was even better playing away from that.

What a lovely actor. I’m glad I got to see his work. I’m sorry to see him go.

61 thoughts on “Oh, and Alan Rickman

  1. His portrait of the sheriff in Robin Hood will be the role which I will remember him by. He was a sublime actor, sadly overlooked by many.

  2. Well said. It’s just so sad… One of my favorite actors. I liked him as a villain but I loved him as a hero. Especially his heartfelt performance as Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility. What a week.

  3. I really enjoyed his smaller roles, including “Bottle Shock”, which I haven’t seen mentioned. Even if the film is one giant bad hair day for Chris Pine.

  4. and he nailed the character of Obadiah Slope in the Barchester Chronicles. You would have thought Trollope had him in mind for the part. He will be missed.

  5. Oh shoot. I first saw him in “Truly Madly Deeply.” Fell in love with the voice. Very sad he’s gone.

  6. I just watched him in the movie A Little Chaos with Kate Winslett. I loved him in Galaxy Quest and so many other iconic roles. I will definitely miss that dry ,sardonic wit.

  7. His roles were so marvelously nuanced. Though he had a villainous role in the Harry Potter movies, I saw him as redeemable from the very beginning. I am crushed to lose him.

  8. I first saw him in 1987 (pre-Die Hard) onstage in Les Liaisons Dangereuses on Broadway as the maliciously seductive Valmont. He was absolutely stunning, part of one of the most memorable evenings of theatre in my life (which has included hundreds of evenings of theatre). I was 18 or 19 then, and I’ve been a little in love with him ever since that night.

  9. Definitely “Truly, Madly, Deeply.” And “Blow Dry.” And “Galaxy Quest.” Saw a trailer last week for what I’m guessing is his last film, and just seeing him in it made me think that it was worth checking out…

  10. Thanks for mentioning his performance in Galaxy Quest which was wonderful and which all the other obits ignored.

  11. The universe can stop taking my favorite people now or I’ll have to say, “By Grabthar’s hammer, by the suns of Worvan, you shall be avenged.”

  12. Happy to see some appreciation hereabouts for the badly underrated Blow Dry, one of my favorites. Clunky and at times predictable, but a great Rickman vehicle. It’s also notable that all the other actors perform at about 200% of their usual quality when Rickman is in the same scene.

  13. This loss is kind of a kick in the gut. He was truly a wonderful actor and it was a privilege to see his work. I’d forgotten about his role in Sense and Sensibility, since I haven’t watched that in ages. It’s wonderful to see the heartfelt tributes just pouring in from his colleagues in the acting world.

  14. David Bowie – 69.
    Alan Rickman – 69.
    Lemmy Kilminster – 70 (but only by a couple of days)

    Cancer, cancer, and cancer.

    No more of that for a while, please.

  15. I agree with all of your comments about Mr. Rickman, except for Truly, Madly, deeply (which I love, and is my wife’s favorite film). I believe it Alan Rickman came back from the other side in order to help his spouse process her grief and enable her to move on with her life. But otherwise – what you said!

  16. First David Bowie, now Alan Rickman. My mother’s a 69 yo breast cancer survivor. With my luck, it’ll relapse, and she’ll be the third in the trifecta.

    Okay, universe, you can stop now…

  17. Another vote for Truly, Madly, Deeply. Ever since I heard the news this morning, I’ve had “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore” running through my head.

  18. His Blow Dry performance is wonderful. Pretty much everything he did was wonderful (I still have a visceral memory of his Valmont in Dangerous Liaisons. Damn.) but I want to give a shout out to his Metatron in Dogma: he loves God, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t exasperate him at times.

  19. thank you for mentioning truly, madly, deeply. he would have had a great legacy even without it, but it’s such an amazing and complicated performance.

  20. Truly, Madly, Deeply was my favorite. I always loved that story of love from the other side of death. It was really beautiful. That movie also cemented my love of Bach, which was an interesting thing for a teenager who didn’t know much about classical music outside of what I played in Band. :)

  21. :-( Lets not forget his role in Dogma, a movie that if you can get beyond the scatalogical humor actually has a lot of interesting, nuanced theology. I really hope if he’d hung around another couple of years he’d have ended up with a knighthood, he certainly deserved one.

  22. Oh, and when the special Brian Blessed GPS voice came out, my wife said “you know who I really would love? Alan Rickman. Think about it: ‘You made the wrong turn. Again.'”

  23. One of my favourite scenes of his is in Chamber of Secrets, when him and another great actor , Kenneth Branagh decide to duel in class. It’s a great scene because you can see that these are two actors who greatly respect each other, hamming it up and just having a ball. It’s one of my favourite scenes in all of the HP movies.

    First David, now Alan. My heart just can’t take anymore this week. =(

  24. Jim Kakalios, that’s my take on Truly, Madly, Deeply too (a movie I love). It’s the ultimate act of love by Jamie, the Alan Rickman character. Definitely going to watch it again tonight.

  25. An actor so convincing a whole generation of Irish schoolchildren think Eamon DeValera cancelled Christmas…

  26. Yes. Sad. :( :( :(

    I love him most in his comedic roles (just had “Galaxy Quest” on in the background earlier this week cherishing the half-dozen facial expressions as he was processing Tim Allen’s comment “Because the show must go on!”) but I am unable to think of a role where he >wasn’t< amazing. It was always performances you could hang your hat AND coat on.

    Damn damn damn. :(

  27. It just sucks. I didn’t know he was ill. I didn’t know David Bowie was ill. (We also just lost wonderful character actor David Margulies, who is best known as the mayor in the Ghostbuster movies.)

    There are a handful of actors who, if you hear that they are in a movie or show, you think, okay I can check that out, whatever it is, because they are going to be in it. Rickman was one of those. When he was cast as Snape, everybody just sighed, “Well of course!” Nobody was better at being snide and endearing at the same time. He made you love his villains. He made you squeal over his heroes. He often played the man who was overlooked. He directed “A Little Chaos” as well as appeared in it, and I’m glad he got to do that.

    I will miss that voice.

  28. Very sad – and a great actor who almost never got to be a hero.

    I kept praying for the Galaxy Quest sequel – guess that won’t be happening now. :(

  29. I could have listened to him read the phone book & I’d be happy. Rickman’s voice had that effect on a number of folks I know. Blow Dry is my favorite of his films; also loved watching him in Sweeney Todd & Sense and Sensibility.

  30. Alan Rickman was an amazing talent. And these deaths (Lemmy, Bowie and Rickmabn) have been not just horrible, but seem to be just out of the blue as an added injury.

    By the way, Snape is the actual hero of the Harry Potter series, even Harry acknowledges that.

  31. Thank you for this, John. No one I work with is familiar with his work(?), so I was sitting here being bummed out by myself until your blog. Loved him in Everything, every performance a masterpiece as confirmed by everyone above. But with Robin Hood’s Sheriff of Nottingham, as you stated, he completely stole the movie! Wish I could watch an Alan Rickman marathon this weekend, to soothe my aching heart. He will be sorely missed! On the other hand, I must express my total admiration for both he and David Bowie that we never even knew they were ill. That’s an Englishman for you, stiff upper lip ’til the end. Classic Icons, the likes of which we will rarely see again in this lifetime.

  32. I happened to rewatch Galaxy Quest on Neflix a couple of days ago, and was once again impressed by what a gift for comedy this man had. Just watching his character contemptuously snatch a photo from a fan, sign it, and hand it back had me on the floor. And that magnificent voice!

  33. He struck me as a person of integrity, which I think came through in his acting.

    I went to see _Galaxy Quest_ on Christmas Day , the day it was released, IMDb tells me, because it had Alan Rickman in it, and I wanted to see it before it disappeared. It was SF *and* humor, both of which tend not to be done well. I was horrified when my mother said she wanted to go too, as she had a history of walking out of movies she did not enjoy – and she was *not* a fan of SF. We both loved it.

  34. I also loved him as the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. If only they had cast someone other than Kevin Costner in the title role, that would have been a 5 star movie. Rickman made it not only watchable, but re-watchable as well.

  35. recovered enough to say, if you want to see Alan Rickman in a movie almost no-one mentions, which is not by any means a great movie but AR is (as usual) great in it: Close My Eyes. And as a seldom-mentioned villain: Closet Land.

    I wish I could have seen him as Valmont. After I found out he had that role on stage, I couldn’t enjoy the movie version anymore.

  36. Those are my favorite Rickman movies TOO!!!!! I think I have Galaxy Quest memorized. I remember I went to see it in the theater not knowing anything about it – I went with a friend whose brother picked it out. As soon as it started and I realized what it was… I was filled with joy, and stayed in joy and laughter till the moment it ended. No one else in the theater seemed to be getting what this was, but my friend and her brother and I laughed so hard we cried. And as for Sense and Sensibility “Give me a task…” oh my gosh to die for… And Die Hard is the movie my husband and I traditionally watch every Christmas Eve… seriously, I cried this morning when I heard the news of his passing. Yes, I’m gushing like a teenager – AND WHO WOULDN’T!!!!

  37. I was trying to explain who Alan Rickman was to a co-worker. He recognized him from Die Hard, but had never seen Galaxy Quest. He rectified that via Netflix last night and said (this is a quote) “It was everything you promised it would be”.

    Alan Rickman wasn’t always in great movies, but he always delivered. Thanks.

  38. Rickman singlehandedly saved Snape’s character from caricature.

    Rowling is a fantastic storyteller but not that great a *writer*: her mental image of Snape had always been a greasy, nasty-tempered cynical jerk who was ugly to his students. Things got lost in translation and he became a Byronic hero to the fan brigade. Rickman’s portrayal was complicated, layered, frequently deeply unflattering to the character itself, and ultimately heroic. That would be hard to do at the best of times, but especially hard to do for a character who may have been fighting on the side of Goodness And Righteousness but was neither good nor nice at any point in the story.

    On the whole of things, I think the real genius of Rickman as an actor is that he played men who had emotional ranges beyond horny, angry, and proud. Deeply in love, yes. Cynical and bitter, yes. Gentle, yes. Wounded, yes. Sense and Sensibility’s Colonel Brandon was a triumph in how doing the right thing for all the right reasons can come at a huge personal cost, but the willingness to do the right thing in the first place was what won him the respect of Marianne at the end of the day. I’m not sure another actor could have pulled that off without either tragic White Knighting or a martyrdom complex.* Even playing a philandering asshole in Love Actually, he managed to convey a huge range of emotion and make it seem normal, not to mention being an epic comedic foil in his scene with Rowan Atkinson.

    *On a related note, it just hit me that Colonel Brandon, of all of Jane Austen’s male characters, is the one who actually treats women like people. His ward had been seduced and abandoned, he took care of her and treated her and the baby like decent humans and not just out of a sense of responsibility. He treats Elinor Dashwood like she has a brain and a soul from the word go. When Marianne fell ill and later was treated by society to be of no worth, he did the exact same thing he’d been doing the whole time he’d known her, and did so without coming across as The Nice Guy.

  39. All right, Skada, now you’ve done it. I have to move “Sense and Sensibility” up to the top of the re-watch queue, ahead of a bunch of things in the watch queue. (/me pretends to grumble while secretly looking forward more to this evening’s leisure time)

  40. So sad here – introduced to Rickman by Truly, Madly, Deeply and wept with the heroine for my own reasons, and felt so grateful for the release. There is a minor movie he was in portraying a jaded older urban fella who ends up casually sleeping with a young woman who turns out to be his daughter – when he discovers this, he suicides by driving his motorcycle off a pier into the water. Cannot find the title, but devastating acting in an unprepossessing film otherwise – has always haunted me. His Colonel Brandon is the sine qua non of lovers in my eyes – everyone should be so fortunate to be loved so well.

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