Creator / Alan Rickman

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"As far as I'm concerned, I'm not playing 'the villain.' I'm just playing somebody who wants certain things in life, has made certain choices, and goes after them."
— on playing amoral mass-murdering corporate thief Hans Gruber

For someone who didn't play villains, he was very, very good at it.

Alan Sidney Patrick Rickman (February 21, 1946 January 14, 2016) was an English actor and director, known for playing a variety of roles on stage and screen, often as a complex antagonist. After doing the standard English Man In Hollywood origin full of William Shakespeare, theatre and single episode spots on the television, he managed to move over to the USA by serving his revenge cold as the Vicomte de Valmont (a very interesting man with some questionable morals) in Les Liaisons Dangereuses on Broadway. He also starred in Truly Madly Deeply, a cultured version of Ghost. Then his first big screen role was the lovable Magnificent Bastard Hans Gruber in Die Hard, who set up a Batman Gambit in order to steal 600 million dollars in negotiable bearer bonds. He had to kill a few people to get the money, which was certainly not very nice, but he did so with memorable Bond One Liners, and personally ad-libbed the infamous, "Mr. Takagi did not see it that way... so he won't be joining us for the rest of his life." To this day, Hans is still regarded as one of the greatest villains in movie history.

There is also the pantomime villain Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, who proved to be a better thief than that Costner fellow by stealing every scene he was in. Deliciously villainous and by far the most interesting character in the movie.

Also, while Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films is meant to be a sympathetic bastard with a not-so-happy past, for some reason people kept feeling sorry for him, instead seeing Rickman's Snape as a normal guy who just needed a hug — as well as feeling a few other things.

He also played Eliot Marston in Quigley Down Under, as well as Judge Turpin in the 2007 Tim Burton film version of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Regardless of these roles, there were plenty of clearly not villainous, still very interesting roles that he had performed.

He played, of all things, a painter named Ed in the 1989 The January Man. He starred as the title hypnotist in a 1994 biopic Mesmer about pioneering hypnotist Franz Anton Mesmer. He played Colonel Brandon in the 1995 film adaptation of Sense and Sensibility. He was the Metatron, the angel people are really speaking to when they claim to speak to Godnote , in Dogma (being on fire in his first on-screen appearance is certainly interesting), a role which he took after being a fan of Kevin Smith's Chasing Amy but which he took with one strict condition: don't change anything in the script. In 1999 he starred in Galaxy Quest, where he played a Shakespearean actor slumming it in sci-fi. In 2003, he appeared in Love Actually playing a caring yet utterly deadpan office boss who may or may not have had an affair with his assistant. He was the voice of Marvin in the 2005 film version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. He also played Ronald Reagan in Lee Daniels' The Butler.

Further, Rickman recited poetry. Very interesting poetry. And he made tea in a very interesting way.

He also helped compile the one-woman play My Name Is Rachel Corrie out of the letters, emails, and journals of the title character. He directed two films, The Winter Guest and A Little Chaos.

A classic anecdote told by John Sessions on QI, as seen here described Alan's view on his roles. The quote is at 2:40, but Sessions is doing an impression for most of the clip.

The world expressed collective sorrow to learn of Rickman's passing from pancreatic cancer, at the age of 69, on January 14, 2016.

Mr. Rickman provided very interesting examples of:

  • Badass Baritone: One of the reasons he was consistently chosen for villain roles was his deep voice.
  • Chronically Killed Actor: A part of being a villain is that you're probably going to be dead by movie's end.
  • Classically Trained Extra: His character in Galaxy Quest. Averted in real life as he seemed to very much enjoy being action villains and snarky wizards.
  • Dramatic Pause: Was... a... big... fan. To the point J.K. Rowling admitted writing Severus Snape's dialogue in the later Potter books with Rickman's...cadence in mind.
    "E... *beat* ...qually... guilty."
  • The Dreaded: In an amusing and unintentional way, he was this for Jason Mewes during the filming of Dogma. When Mewes was informed by Kevin Smith that he was going to have to be on point throughout the filming because this movie was going to have experienced and well-respected actors and Alan Rickman was one of them, Mewes took the filming so seriously that he not only memorized his lines, but everyone else's lines as well.
    Mewes: I don't want to piss off that Rickman dude.
  • Evil Brit: Another reason he was often cast as a villain, he played the Evil Brit trope exceedingly well.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: See Badass Baritone above.
  • Large Ham: In addition to being very interesting people, his roles also frequently tended to be this.


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