The great Alan Rickman made movies better. No matter the film, no matter the role, Rickman delivered on a level that only the best actors can. He was able to cover a multitude of colours in every performance and he could move from evil to charming to funny over the course of a single scene.
Born in London on February 21, 1946, Alan Rickman attended RADA in the 1970s before starting a career as a stage actor. His big break came in 1985 when he was cast as Vicomte de Valmont in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses. The play’s move to Broadway saw Hollywood take note and he was subsequently cast in the role of Hans Gruber in John McTiernan’s Die Hard (1988). Rickman’s Gruber might just be the highlight of the movie and set the standard for screen villains for years to come.
Rickman followed Die Hard up with January Man, the little seen but rather great Tom Selleck Western Quigley Down Under and Anthony Minghella’s much beloved Truly, Madly Deeply. He returned to the villain role with 1991’s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Once again, Rickman gives a performance which elevates the movie. Kevin Costner may have been the star, but Rickman stole every scene he was in. He worked in a variety of movie roles throughout the 1990s, with stand-outs being Ang Lee’s Sense And Sensibility, Neil Jordan’s Michael Collins and the acclaimed sci-fi comedy Galaxy Quest.
The 2000s saw a new generation discover his talents with the Harry Potter movies and his Severus Snape was once again a highlight. Roles in Perfume: The Story of A Murderer, Love Actually and Tim Burton’s Sweeney Todd again showed his ability to play a multitude of characters – he even portrayed Ronald Reagan in 2013’s The Butler! 2015 saw Alan Rickman make his directorial debut with period drama A Little Chaos and he rounded-out his film career with Eye In The Sky and the sequel, Alice Through The Looking Glass.
Rickman was an actor equally praised for his work on stage and onscreen and he effortlessly moved between the mediums. He never gave a bad performance and his talent and charm were always on full display.
Alan Rickman died from pancreatic cancer at the age of 69 on 14 January 2016.