It is with an extremely heavy heart that we say goodbye to one of the acting world’s greats. British actor Alan Rickman died on January 14th 2016 after a very quiet battle with cancer, aged 69. With a career that started in British theatre, Alan Rickman has become a household name for both his comedic roles and powerful antagonists (often in the same character) as well as his iconic voice work.
Below we pay homage to this great figure by selecting some of our favourite of his film roles;
Die Hard (1988) – Hans Gruber
Hitting off his big time Hollywood appearances with suave vigor, Die Hard‘s cool villain Hans Gruber stays in everyone’s mind as one of the best. Rickman takes this role in his stride, making you root for the bad guy just because he’s such a bad ass!! Just as Christoph Waltz brought Hans Landa’s character to new levels with intelligent sophistication and a merciless brutality, so did Rickman with Gruber’s vindictive yet composed mastermind.
The most gut-dropping moment of Die Hard‘s flash-bang action flick is the moment when that watch clasp opens, releasing Gruber’s life-saving grip, and the look on Rickman’s face because we all know that we will never see Hans Gruber again.
Best quote: “I’m going to count to three, there will not be a four.”
Robin Hood (1991) – Sheriff of Nottingham
Another fantastic villain, Rickman’s Sheriff of Nottingham from 1991’s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (the Kevin Costner one, not the Mel Brooks “in Tights” one) is one of my favourites. Mean, crude and ridiculously funny, the Sheriff seems to unravel through the film, going from one hap-hazard scheme to the next to seize power indefinitely, ending in a ridiculous attempt to consummate Maid Marian and his marriage, even though she’s wearing a chastity belt..wait…no wait, that was the other one.
Regardless! He makes a fantastic villain once again.
Best quote: “Cancel the kitchen scraps for the lepers and orphans, no more merciful beheadings …and call off Christmas!”
Sense and Sensibility (1995) – Colonel Brandon
Ang Lee’s rendition of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility is possibly my favourite period adaptation. Beautifully adapted for screen by Emma Thompson, it offers a sweet, often funny take on Austen’s first novel which highlights the somewhat ridiculous (in modern terms) sensibilities when it comes to finding an eligible match.
Rickman plays the noble yet somewhat sombre Colonel Brandon, whose mysterious past plays a pivotal part in Marianne’s love experiences. As always, the character is played with subtle and controlled grace with Rickman’s deep classic tone reverberating throughout. He may not be a Mr Darcy, but Brandon definitely makes his mark as one of Austen’s best male characters.
Best quote: “I knew a lady very like your sister – the same impulsive sweetness of temper – who was forced into, as you put it, a better acquaintance with the world. The result was only ruination and despair. Do not desire it, Miss Dashwood.”
Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (2005) – Marvin (voice)
Another great example of Rickman’s grasp of subtle humour, this time it is all in the voice. Playing the voice of depressed “paranoid android” Marvin in Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, his deadpan reactions to every other lowly-minded creature in the universe are hilarious. Especially when he is placed in an environment that is designed to have a “cheerful and sunny disposition”.
Best quote: “Here I am, brain the size of a planet, and they ask me to take you to the bridge. Call that job satisfaction, ’cause I don’t.”
Harry Potter series (2001-2011) – Severus Snape
Lastly, but by no means least, we take a look at probably Alan Rickman’s most iconic role in modern cinema – Harry Potter‘s Severus Snape.
Throughout the books, Snape’s character develops from one of petty vengeance and bored superiority to one of deep history and heroic acts, and the only person to do him justice was the magnificent Mr Rickman. As a lover of the original series, I was always sceptical of a live-action adaptation, as nothing can ever really rival years of imagination. Yet when Rickman’s Snape appeared on our screens with greasy curtains of hair, looks of disdain and the unmistakeable drawl of the character we had grown to loathe, we could not unsee the perfect transformation taken from the pages of our favourite books. To the end, he was Snape through and through.
And it is with the same sadness triggered by those final scenes of Deathly Hallows that we say goodbye to a man that through many tests of faith gained our love and trust in the most spectacular fashion.
RIP Alan Rickman, you will forever be in our hearts in so many ways.
Words; by Aoife ©