Alan Sidney Patrick Rickman
February 21, 1946 (Hammersmith, London, England, UK)
I’m never really looking for anything. I’m looking to be surprised and to have one’s instincts engaged with a piece of writing rather than anything planned. I think if you make decisions before you read something, then you’re not free. I’d much rather just turn page one and start to get a flavor of a character. That’s what an actor is, I think. You’re a bundle of instincts that you fling at something called training, and you hope training orders it a bit for you so that you can make choices, but ultimately you’re dependent on your instincts and your imagination, and that’s something you can’t pin down.
Today is 67th birthday of a man who needs no introduction, a man who gave us some of the greatest characters in the history of cinema. Alan Rickman. He was in many of my favorite movies and he was a big part of their appeal - he can play the most amazing heroes, villains and sometimes both of those over the course of one film.
Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility, adorable Marvin in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the angel in Dogma, Hans Gruber in Die Hard, sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood and finally - Severus Snape in Harry Potter series. Each of these characters is different, each memorable and each elevating the movie in its very own, unique way. Would I enjoy Harry Potter films as much as I did without Rickman's Snape? Would Sense and Sensibility be as romantic without his Brandon? Of course not.
Rickman was also in a whole bunch of movies that are little known and contain some of his best performances - the role of a husband trapped in complicated, only seemingly happy, marriage in terrific Dark Harbor, the role of a torturer in criminally under seen Closet Land and finally his enchanting work in beautiful Snow Cake. Then there is his terrific work in TV movies - Rasputin, detailing the time infamous Grigori rose to fame on Russian court and Something the Lord Made, chronicle of cardiologist Alfred Blalock's efforts to cure the devastating heart problem of Tetralogy of Fallot, also known as Blue Baby Syndrome. The first one brought him Golden Globe, SAG Award and Emmy wins, the second - Emmy nomination.
Rickman as another one of my absolutely favorite actors - Ralph Fiennes - has this amazing ability to be completely menacing (Closet Land, Harry Potter series, Die Hard, Robin Hood) and hilarious on screen - he can even be hilarious while being menacing, which is probably why his villains are so iconic. And then we have Dogma, Galaxy Quest, Bottle Shock, Blow Dry - in those and in many others he shows that he has a perfect comedic timing and there is simply noting he cannot do.
There are many things I don't understand when looking back at awards history. The wide Harry Potter series snub is one of the things I will never understand. And Rickman's performance as Snape, especially in the last two movies of the series, is the finest performance in Harry Potter films, already filled with such amazing work from the cast. Short screen time? Oh, don't give me that. Years later people will look back, see there was no major nominations for the movie and for Rickman and they will yell "WHAT?!"
I don't even have to mention his voice, right? And let's not forget a real treat for all of us girls - Rickman's appearance in Texas's video for In Demand.
67 years old. We'd still hit that.
10 Best performances:
Harry Potter series
Sense and Sensibility (below)
Something the Lord Made
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves
15 Best films:
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2
Sense and Sensibility
Sweeney Todd: The Damon Barber of Fleet Street
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Something the Lord Made
Closet Land (below)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
An Awfully Big Adventure
5 Favorite scenes:
Snape finds Lily in Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows part 2
"Give me something to do or I shall run mad" in Sense and Sensibility
The argument in the kitchen in Dark Harbor
The final surgery in Somthing the Lord Made
Page 394 in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban13 fun facts:
- Has been in a relationship with Rima Horton since 1965.
- Although a highly successful film actor, he has frequently passed up film offers to return to the theater. (A place and activity which he calls "magical" and his "first love".)
- Was given the role of Professor Severus Snape in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001) only after Tim Roth backed out.
- Is the second of four children in his family. He has an older brother, a younger brother, and a younger sister.
- For the shot where Hans Gruber falls from the top of the building in Die Hard (1988), was actually dropped by a stuntman from a 20-foot high model onto an air bag. To get a genuine surprised look, the stunt man dropped him on the count of two instead of three.
- Three of the Harry Potter films also feature Warwick Davis as Professor Flitwick. In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005), Rickman and Warwick Davis play the same part. Warwick Davis wore the robotic suit for Marvin, while Rickman provides the voice.
- Says Canada is like a second home.
- Failed his California driving test at one point for "driving too cautiously through a green light"
- He is 11 years older than Timothy Spall, 12 years older than Adrian Rawlins and Gary Oldman, 17 years older than David Thewlis, and 21 years older than Geraldine Somerville. Nevertheless, the character that the six of them play in the Harry Potter films are meant to be contemporaries and former classmates.
- Was J.K. Rowling's personal favorite to play Severus Snape.
- Was Richard Curtis's choice to play Charles in Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994). Curtis was very hesitant in casting Hugh Grant as he had so wanted Rickman.
- For Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991), he turned down the role of the Sheriff twice before he was told he could more or less have carte-blanche with his interpretation of the character.
- Chosen by Empire Magazine as one of the 100 Sexiest Stars in film history (#83)