Alan Rickman (1946 - 2016)
I first became aware of the actor Alan Rickman during the early eighties while watching The Barchester Chronicles. He played the scheming curate Obadiah Slope who aspired to the office of Bishop, in this television adaptation of Anthony Trollopes novels. It was the sort of period costumed drama that the BBC excels at and a role the Rickman clearly relished. Six years later his performance as the German terrorist Hans Gruber in Die Hard gained him international acclaim and placed him squarely on Hollywood’s radar. He continued to appear in both mainstream blockbusters and smaller more cerebral independent productions over the years, yet maintained his credibility as a serious character actor, despite his fame and association with populist franchises.
Alan’s appeal was very much due to his versatility. He could perform classic theatre, light comedy and even action movies with ease. He knew exactly when to adopt a theatrical style (Robin Hood Prince of Thieves) and when to take a more understated approach (Sense and Sensibility). He was an actor with a broad dramatic range and a commanding voice, yet often did his finest work through the most subtle of expressions of his face. His presence in a film always piqued my interest and I would at time stray out of my personal cinematic comfort zone just to see a movie in which he appeared; his performance as Ronald Reagan in The Butler being one such example.
For a whole generation Alan Rickman will always be Professor Severus Snape, as this was the role that introduced them to his work. I will always enjoy is outstanding performance in Galaxy Quest, an underrated movie that is one of the finest satires I’ve seen about popular culture. He excels as aging Shakespearean actor Alexander Dane who has a love hate relationship with his alter ego Dr Lazarus. Rickman has by far the best lines in the film, which are acerbically delivered with consummate ease. Again much of the nuances of his performance are from his mannerism and deportment. It’s an excellent showcase for his acting talent. He will be sorely missed. “Happy Trails, Hans”.