‘I do take my work seriously and the way to do that is not to take yourself too seriously.’ – Alan Rickman 1946 – 2016
Well, here we are again. This time we are paying tribute to one of the greatest actions of several generations. It was confirmed today that Alan Rickman, possibly best known for his role as Professor Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films, died at the age of 69 from cancer.
Alan Rickman was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, performing both modern and classical theatre productions, his big break was his role as the Vicomte de Valmont in the play Les Liaisons Dangereuses in 1985, for which he was nominated for a Tony Award. He gained wider recognition for his performance as Hans Gruber in Die Hard, and of course, Professor Snape in Harry Potter. Other notable performances include his roles in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Sense and Sensibility, Love Actually and more recently his role as Jude Turpin in the film adaptation of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. He was awarded the Golden Globe, Emmy Award, and Screen Actors Guild Award for his portrayal of Rasputin in Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny. He attended RADA, the highly prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art leaving with several prizes including the Emile Littler Prize, the Forbes Robertson Prize and the Bancroft Gold Medal.
Rickman also had a foray into directing, having directed The Winter Guest at London’s Almeida Theatre and the film version of the same play, starring fellow Potter and Love Actually star Emma Thompson. He also compiled and directed the play My Name Is Rachel Corrie at the Royal Court Theatre, London and won the Theatre Goers’ Choice Awards for Best Director. In 2009, Alan Rickman was awarded the James Joyce Award by University College Dublin’s Literary and Historical Society.
His role as Professor Snape in the Harry Potter films defined him to a younger generation. His portrayal of the complex character was to the acclaim of fans and critics alike. It was widely reported that Rickman knew the fate of Professor Snape when he first got the role in the first film, Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone, after being told by author J.K Rowling even though she hadn’t even written the final book. He kept the secret from everyone, including the directors, of which producer David Heyman, said “there were times when a director would tell Alan what to do in a scene and he would say something like, ‘No I can’t do that – I know what is going to happen and you don’t” he continued to the LA Times “the shadow that he casts in these films is a huge one and the emotion he conveys is immeasurable”. Rickman’s portrayal of the character is one that helps define the phenomena that was Harry Potter to the point that media coverage categorised Rickman’s performance in the final instalment as worthy of an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor.
With a career spanning over thirty years, Alan Rickman has been a commanding presence in the film and theatre industry, we’ll miss you Alan. Always.