Alan Rickman shot to fame in 1991 as the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, following a hilarious performance as Hans Gruber in Die Hard. But, for many, he is remembered for later work; Sense and Sensibility and the inescapable Harry Potter series. What is phenomenal about Rickman was his ability to escape the shadow of Professor Snape, a figure of cult fandom, and continue to be known for his acting ability both onscreen and onstage.
Surprisingly Rickman was originally studying graphic design before beginning to act at the age of 26. Until the 90s his work consisted mainly of theatre with the Royal Shakespeare Company where he played a whole host of characters from Achilles to Hamlet. But as his film work began to increase and gain fame he became a classic figure on screen – sly, sarcastic and stern. But somehow always charming, epitomised by his performance in Sense and Sensibility where his heartwarming devotion to Kate Winslet is particularly painful.
Rickman was a patron of the charity Saving Faces, which raises money for facial disfigurements and cancer victims.
Following Harry Potter in 2001 the voice became the trademark of Alan Rickman, the low, slow tone voiced both Marvin the Paranoid Android and later The Caterpillar in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Alice in Wonderland respectively.
Inevitably we come now to Harry Potter, which for the ‘Potter generation’ will define his career, playing the often morally ambiguous professor Snape, Rickman owned the big screen. But the skill he exhibited brought depth to the character, especially in the denouement of the movies where Snape’s true motives are revealed. The affection which the Potter cast felt for him has been shown loud and clear following his death and is a testament to his generosity and skill.
Rickman was a patron of the charity Saving Faces, which raises money for facial disfigurements and cancer victims. He was also an active Labour supporter. He died aged 69 due to cancer which had been kept private. The last note to be made on Rickman’s career is A Little Chaos which he directed and starred in as Louis XIV. The film tells the love story of two landscapers in Versailles. This film did not receive massive public recognition but is undeniably charming, featuring quality performances from Kate Winslet and Rickman himself. The charm and character he brought to the role and the beauty of the film display all the qualities that we will now miss. Rickman was a King on and off screen.
By Delilah Niel
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