Alan Rickman has been a part of my Christmas celebrations for as long as I can remember, either as Hans Gruber in Die Hard (yes, it is a Christmas movie) or as Harry in Love Actually, which my mom and I watch religiously every year. Perhaps the biggest presence Rickman has had in my life, however, was as the surprise antihero Professor Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series.
You’re not supposed to like the characters that Alan Rickman is best known for, but it is impossible not to. Rickman brought a deliciously charismatic evil to his villainous roles.
Though known for his intimidating drawl and sneer, Rickman’s 40 years of acting has seen him play everything from romantic suitor (Colonel Brandon in Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility) to Ronald Reagan (in The Butler) to a comically depressed robot (Marvin in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy).
After running a graphic design business for several years, Rickman auditioned for The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and discovered his love for the stage at 26. He got a bit of a late start, but after receiving great praise in his first theatrically-released film, Die Hard, he was catapulted onto the public’s radar. Nevertheless, Rickman regularly turned down film roles to return to his first love, the theatre.
Rickman also directed numerous plays, including The Winter Guest in 1995, followed by the film adaptation in 1997, which won several awards on the film festival circuit.
Rickman has won a BAFTA, a Golden Globe, an Emmy and a Screen Actors’ Guild Award, amongst many other wins and nominations.
Since his death, Rickman has received an outpouring of support from fans and colleagues. The cart embedded in the wall at Platform 9¾ in King’s Cross Station has become a shrine to the actor. Rickman was well-respected and described as a genuinely nice person by fellow actors like Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Thompson.
Rickman’s supportive nature extended beyond his personal relationships as he was also the honorary president of the International Performers Aid Trust, a charity that provides financial aid for struggling performers.
Before we bid farewell for good, we can see Rickman one last time as Lieutenant General Frank Benson in Eye in the Sky, a film about drone warfare that comes out in April. In May we can also appreciate his voice acting as the caterpillar in Tim Burton’s Alice Through the Looking Glass.
Rickman is survived by his wife and college sweetheart Rima Horton, over 60 films and legions of fans.