Nobody could menace moviegoing audiences quite like Alan Rickman. Between espousing diabolical schemes from the top of a Los Angeles skyscraper, raining tyranny upon the kingdom of Nottingham, or laying waste to the confidence of Hogwarts students, the veteran actor has given some of the most delightfully wicked performances in big screen history. Sadly, we report today that Rickman passed away on Thursday morning at age 69 after a long battle with cancer, as confirmed by the actor’s family to The Guardian.
Though celebrated unanimously for his penchant for the sinister, and what’s more for his inimitable nasal voice, Rickman became many different things to his varied fans across his years in Hollywood. Rickman’s breakout role as Hans Gruber, the megalomaniacal terrorist in Die Hard, would define the actor for the rest of his life to action genre devotees. That the centuries-old quote, “And when Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept, for there were no more worlds to conquer” has become more strongly associated with Rickman’s screen delivery than with its original speaker, Plutarch, says quite a bit about his dynamism as Bruce Willis’ most formidable foe.
The 1990s proved Rickman more than capable of tackling a wealth of new challenges; he excelled in the realms of adventure (a la Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and Quigley Down Under), drama (Sense and Sensibility and Michael Collins) and comedy (Dogma and Galaxy Quest) alike. The latter category offered evidence that although he might be championed foremost for his wicked leanings, Rickman could more than handle the lighter fare as well. We’d see the same in forthcoming movies like Love Actually.
But of course, to children of the 2000s, Rickman will always be Severus Snape, the morally dubious potions professor of the Harry Potter film series. Just as defining as Gruber was to viewers of the ‘80s is Snape to the younger generation; standing tall among the Potter franchise’s slew of captivating characters, Rickman’s role might just be the one we enjoyed most.
Such is the truest testament to the man’s talents as an artist and an entertainer. No matter how serious, severe, or downright evil he was being onscreen, he was always the most fun performer to watch.
HT: The Guardian
IMAGE: Warner Bros.