Alan Rickman: Prince of Villains . . . and Gentle Heroes.
Here at Apropos of Nothing, it is once again our sad duty to report the recent death of a most notable artist and entertainer in the month of January, 2016. The year, there is no doubt, is off to a very bad start. On December 31th, the last day of 2015, we sadly lost actor Wayne Rogers of M*A*S*H* fame. Shortly after that, the great British rocker, David Bowie. And latest, the passing of the multi-talented and much beloved actor Alan Rickman.
Mr. Rickman will perhaps always be best known and well-remembered for his wonderful portrayal of the dark and enigmatic Professor Severnus Snape in the Harry Potter films. No villain ever sneered with utter distain better than the good professor.
It was just one of many unforgettable roles.
Mr. Rickman was born Alan Sidney Patrick Rickman, February 21, 1946 in London, England. He also passed in London, January 14, 2016, after a short battle with pancreatic cancer. He had suffered a minor stoke in August, and was diagnosed at that time. Mr. Rickman chose to keep his illness confidential and private from all but his closet friends and family, all of whom surrounded him in his final hours.
Soon after his passing, his fans created a makeshift memorial underneath the “Platform 9 and ¾” sign at the London’s King’s Cross railway station. In the marvelous J. K. Rowling Harry Potter books, this marked the entranceway to a world of magic, mystery, Intrigue, fantasy, and imagination.
And a wonderful world it was indeed.
Mr. Rickman played Snape to a Fare-thee-well.
Harry Potter co-star Emma Watson complained (tongue firmly in cheek) that although Mr. Rickman was a wonderfully kind and gentle man, he scared her considerably when he was in the character of Professor Snape. She said she just thoroughly loved him when he wasn’t “Snaping around.”
He scared us all just a little bit with that eerie role—and with his “snake-venom” dripping voice. Two researchers, a linguist and a sound engineer, found the perfect male voice to be a combination of Alan Rickman’s and Jeremy Iron’s voices, based on a sample of fifty voices. They might have tried five-hundred more and came to the same conclusion. It was after all, a perfect, and unique “one of a kind” menacing voice.
Rickman was chosen by Empire as one of the one-hundred Sexiest Stars in film history (No. 34) in 1995, and ranked No. 59 in Empire’s “The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time” list in October of 1997. In 2009 and 2010, Rickman ranked once again as one of the one-hundred Sexiest Stars by Empire, both times placing No. 8 out of the fifty actors chosen. Rickman was elected to the Council of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in 1993; he was subsequently RADA’s Vice-Chairman and a member of its Artistic Advisory and Training committees and Development Board. He was also voted No. 19 in Empire magazine’s Greatest Living Movie Star over the age of fifty.
In short—he made quite an impact. And without any doubt what-so-ever, Alan Rickman was probably the best actor of all time to have never received an Academy Award nomination.
Sometimes the Academy gets it right—and sometimes it doesn’t.
His roles were many, and varied. Who could forget his deliciously villainous turns as the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, or Rasputin in Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny, which won him a Golden Globe, an Emmy, and a Screen Actors Guild Award. Or Judge Turpin in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. How about as Hans Gruber in Die Hard (1995) or Elliot Marsten in Quigley Down Under (1991). In that one he was part of what was arguably the best ending ever to a movie gunfight.
If you haven’t seen it—rent it.
(A gunfight scene teaser from Quigley Down Under)
Rickman’s softer and gentler side came out as Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility (1995) or the once again extremely enigmatic Alex in the much awarded Snow Cake (2006). His last completed role, due out in movie theaters in the summer of 2016, was as the voice of Absolem, the blue caterpillar, in Alice Through the Looking Glass.
The list could go on and on, but is beyond the scope of this article. Suffice it to say—Mr. Rickman knew what to do in front of a camera, and was one of the best actors of all time. His presence will be very sorely missed on the silver screen for many long years to come.
Bon Voyage, Mr. Rickman. We wish you well in your new adventures and latest venues. Thanks for all the good times, the great movies, and the memorable nightmares.
It was a terrific journey, and we enjoyed travelling every inch of it in your company.
Thanks so much for reading. We’ll seen you again in a few. Until then . . . Goodnight!
Dumb Joke of the Day: