Today, February 21, is what would have been Alan Rickman’s 70th birthday and for today’s blog I want to take some time to remember a man who was a wonderful person and fantastic actor.
Rickman was born on February 21, 1946 in London where he grew up with two brothers and a sister. His schooling was similar to that of most children at the time, and he finished up his schooling at the Royal College of Art where he became a graphic designer. After graduation, Rickman and his friends opened a graphic design studio and he worked there until he made the decision to go into acting.
Rickman spent most of his early career doing live theatre until he caught his big break and was cast as Tybalt in a made-for-TV series of “Romeo and Juliet.” From that point on Rickman began to make a name for himself by being cast in movies such as Die Hard, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Sense and Sensibility, and more. His role in Die Hard as Hans Gruber landed him on AFI’s 100 years…100 Heroes and Villains list as the 46th best villain.
The awards list that is attached to Rickman’s career is immense and very well deserved. His first nomination came in 1987 when he was nominated for a Tony award for Best Actor in Les Liaisons Dangereuses. His first win came in 1991 when he won a BAFTA for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for his performance as the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. In all, he was nominated for thirty-three different awards and won nine of them including a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award.
Rickman has been in too many movies to mention them all, but I think most people would agree that the biggest role of his career was that of Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series. For his part in the Harry Potter movies he won a Scream Award for Best Ensemble, San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Ensemble Performance, a People’s Choice Award for Favorite Ensemble Movie Cast, and an MTV Movie Award for Best Villain.
Severus Snape is one of the most complex characters from the Harry Potter books and Rickman seemed to be born to play the role. He was equal parts terrifying and mysterious. From the start of the seven book series, it is a guess as to where Snape’s loyalties actually lie – to Dumbledore or to Voldemort. It’s a tricky plan to be in because either way he’s lying to one of the two most powerful wizards in existence…and he lies very well. Rickman was able to keep us guessing throughout all eight films until he finally reveals which side he is on in his death scene.
Even though his character was one of the darker characters, many of the castmates have stated that Alan Rickman was the funny man on set. Tom Felton, who played Draco Malfoy, told a story about Rickman’s very long and flowing cloak dragging behind him and Rickman turning around and saying in his Snape character’s voice “Don’t step on my effing cloak.” Rickman has also in many interviews told stories of pranks and stories from on set.
Rickman was a very convincing actor – he became his characters so we believed he actually was that character. He was funny, passionate, and respectable. This makes it so much harder to have lost him so suddenly. In August 2015 he suffered from a stroke and from there he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It was not well known that he was sick because when he passed on January 14, 2016 it was a shock to the entire world.
His death was followed by many tributes all over the world including one at Platform 9 3/4 in London at King’s Cross station and another outside the Potions classroom door at Harry Potter World in Orlando. JK Rowling and Daniel Radcliffe both posted beautiful tributes to the late actor while many fans posted original art and pictures of quotes from the movies or Rickman himself. We also have one more thing to look forward to…Rickman voiced the Blue Caterpillar for Alice Through The Looking Glass which is set to be released posthumously on May 25, 2016.
Alan Rickman – you will always be in our hearts.