God what a week. First we lose David Bowie one of the greatest rock icons of all time and this morning the news came out that Alan Rickman had succumbed to cancer. Alan Rickman to put it bluntly wasn’t just one of the best male leads of his generation but one of the greatest, most legendary actors of all time. He’d already made quite a name for himself on Broadway playing Valmont in Les Liasons Dangereuses in 1987, but lost the movie role out to John Malkovich. Instead Rickman’s movie debut came in Die Hard (1988) where his performance as bad guy Hans Gruber not only stole the whole movie right out from under Bruce Willis, but it also became one of the most memorable, indelible, and beloved villains of all time.
As we all know, Rickman got a number of other great villain roles after that including the evil bigoted rancher Elliott Marston in Quigley Down Under (1990), the deliciously hammy Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991), and the evil perverse Judge Turpin in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Pearl Street (2006). And his portrayal of the grey-hearted Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films was arguably the beating heart of the whole franchise.
But Rickman was also terrific in non-bad guy roles. He was an incredibly sexy and charismatic romantic male lead in Truly Madly Deeply (1990) as Ghost Jamie, or as Colonel Brandon opposite Kate Winslet in Sense and Sensibility (1995). Rickman brought dry wit, charm, and a subtle alien quality to the role of High Angel Metatron in Kevin Smith’s Dogma (1999). He was laugh out loud hilarious as self important classical actor Alexander Dane in Galaxy Quest (1999) or as the voice of Marvin in the otherwise lackluster The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (2005). He disappeared into the role of Ronald Reagan in Lee Daniel’s The Butler (2013) so completely I never realized it was him until I read it on his IMDB page.
Rest in peace Alan Rickman. The world (and so many movies!) are better for having you in it.