A look at his magical movie career
By Charlene Minns, Contributor
The late Alan Rickman, who passed away at 69 on January 14, was a beloved British actor and director with a career spanning nearly 40 years of television, film, and stage productions covering a variety of genres. From blockbusters like Alice in Wonderland to period dramas such as Sense and Sensibility, Rickman brought a severity to roles that he used to make us laugh, cry, or even hate his characters. While featured in many leading roles, Rickman’s critical and commercial success was found in playing smaller supporting roles in larger pictures.
Die Hard (1988)
Rickman’s first American film role saw him as the villainous Hans Gruber, a German terrorist set on blowing up the Nakatomi Plaza, an office building where NYPD cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) is attending a holiday party. Rickman was offered the role after only two days of being in Los Angeles. He also lent his insight into creating the character, suggesting Gruber be well-dressed to pose as a hostage in a memorable scene where he uses an American accent to pose as one of the hostages. Rickman’s calm and collected performance adds to the suspense of the film and showcases his strong ability to portray a conniving antagonist.
Galaxy Quest (1999)
In the 1990s, Rickman appeared in a few more comedic roles, the most notable being Alexander Dane in Galaxy Quest. He played a washed-up Shakespearean actor who despises his former TV character, an alien akin to Star Trek’s Spock. As the most serious character, Rickman makes use of sarcasm and dry humor, incorporating it well with the more comedic performances by the rest of the cast.
The Harry Potter Series (2001–11)
In Rickman’s most recognizable role, the Harry Potter series featured him as Severus Snape. Being one of Rickman’s only film series, it allows us to see how he plays the longer progression of the character from villain in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone to well-intentioned but misunderstood by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. Rickman’s portrayal led the character to become a fan favourite and won him several award nominations from the last film, culminating in him winning the fan-voted MTV Movie Award for best character portrayal in the Harry Potter franchise.
Love Actually (2003)
Once again working with frequent collaborator Emma Thompson, Rickman portrays a design agency manager named Harry, who cheats on his wife Karen (Thompson) with his new secretary Mia (Heike Makatsch). When Karen finds a necklace Harry bought for Mia, she assumes it is for her and is hurt when, on Christmas, she receives a Joni Mitchell CD. The storyline’s open ending left fans wondering for years if the couple made it, until the script editor revealed last month that the fictional couple is still together.
While we are celebrating his most successful films, there are still two upcoming Rickman films to look forward to this year: Eye in the Sky, a thriller following a drone operation, and Alice Through the Looking Glass, a sequel to 2010’s Alice in Wonderland where he will reprise his role as the Blue Caterpillar.