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Alan Rickman's Legacy

Best known as Harry Potter's Snape, acclaimed actor Alan Rickman played many beloved characters in his lifetime.

Alan Rickman was one of those actors that just did everything. Movies, television, Broadway, his talents knew no bounds. Although he passed away on January 14, 2016, at the age 69, his memory lives on through his expansive resume. From Die Hard to performing works of Chekhov, he was truly gifted and was able to adapt to any scene. When news of his passing started to trend, the comments on Facebook were true testaments to his character and ability. Fans posted pictures with him from the stage doors of various Broadway performances including Noel Coward's romantic comedy Private Lives; others commented on his extraordinary performance as Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility and how that performance made them fans of Jane Austen; then there were the Die Hard comments. His role of Hans Gruber was unforgettable. In addition to his other accolades, he was a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company. Although he is gone, he had one of those faces and accents that made him unique and he will forever be loved by fans worldwide.


It is rare when an actor is able to translate from different genres seamlessly and develop such a loyal following. His first foray into the American acting scene was on Broadway, in which he played Vicomte de Valmont in Les Liaisons Dangereuses in 1987. This role earned him a nomination for both a Tony Award and a Drama Desk Award. Yet despite the awards, he was not cast in the movie version of the show. Then, in Love Actually, he played Emma Thompson's husband, who fantasizes about the notion of having an affair. Still, he is just as skilled when he portrayed the "mad monk" Rasputin in the HBO biopic Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny. That role won him a Golden Globe Award, an Emmy Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award. His role in Robin Hood earned him a BAFTA Award as well. In 2009, he was awarded the James Joyce Award by University College Dublin's Literary and Historical Society. If that wasn't enough, Rickman also received "honorable mention" in The Guardian's list of the "best actors ever to receive and Academy Award Nomination."

Alan Rickman Renaissance Man

As a modern day Renaissance man, Rickman did more than just act. He directed The Winter Guest in 1995 at London's Almeida Theatre and went on to direct the film version as well in 1996. It starred Emma Thompson and her real life mother, Phyllida Law. He also directed the play My Name is Rachel Corrie at the Royal Court Theatre in 2005 and subsequently won the Theatre Goers' Choice Award for Best Director. This show was scheduled to go to New York, but was postponed because there were those that viewed it as "anti-Israel agitprop." However, it was put on later that year in another theatre.

Alan Sidney Patrick Rickman was born on February 21, 1946, in Hammersmith, London, United Kingdom. Born of English, Irish, and Welsh ancestry, his parents were Margaret Doreen Rose and Bernard. His father was a factory worker who passed away when Alan was only 8 years old, leaving his wife to take care of their four children alone. His earliest education was at Derwent water Primary School in Acton, which followed the Montessori Method of education. Rickman attended Latymer Upper School on a scholarship and became involved in the drama society. He went on to study graphic design at Chelsea College of Art and Design. After studying there for 3 years, he went onto the Royal College of Art for graduate studies. He didn't pursue acting at first because according to him, "Drama school wasn't considered the sensible thing to do at 18." Rickman even opened his own successful graphic design studio named "Graphiti", but the acting gene was in his blood and his love of the theatre motivated him to audition with the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

Infographic via BBC America

Alan Rickman the Thespian

Already an "old man" at 26, he received a scholarship to the Academy and the rest, as they say, is history. While in RADA, he was awarded several prizes, including the Emile Littler Prize, the Forbes Robertson Prize and the Bancroft Gold Medal. in 2003, Rickman because the Vice-Chairman of RADA.

Never one to rest on his laurels, he worked in every medium and played a wide range of characters. He was once referred to as being the "master of playing villains," which started with his infamous Die Hard role in 1988. Almost 20 years later, he took on the coveted role of Severus Snape in the Harry Potter movies. This character was tailor-made for Rickman's acting style. "A person of great complexity, whose coldly sarcastic and controlled exterior conceals deep emotions and anguish." He played that role through the eighth and last movie Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows : Part 2, in 2011. He received his first award nominations for this role at the 2011 Alliance of Women Film Journalists Awards, the 2011 Saturn Awards, the 2011 Scream Awards and the 2011 St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association Awards in the Best Supporting Actor category.

From the drama to the comedy, Rickman flexed his all of his talents. He portrayed Metatron in the 1999 film Dogma and then as Sir Alexander Dane in the science fiction action comedy Galaxy Quest. Later, he would act in the 2005 adventure comedy The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, alongside Tim Allen and Sigourney Weaver. In this film, Rickman was the voice of Marvin, the paranoid android.

Alan Rickman Sexiest Man Alive

In 1995, Empire Magazine chose Rickman as on the of the 100 Sexiest Stars in Film History and was number 59 in that same magazine's 1997 issue of "The Top 100 Movie Starts of All Time." He made the list again in both 2009 and 2010. But being chosen as one of the sexiest celebrities didn't inflate Rickman's ego in the slightest. Ihe might have had his wife to thank for that as well. Rima Horton was the love of Alan Rickman's life after they met in 1965 when she was 18 years old and he was 19. Horton became a Labor Party councillor on the Kensington and Chelsea London Borough Council from 1986 -2006. She was also an economics lecturer at Kensington University. They began living together in 1977 and remained together until he died. He only had recently confirmed that they had married in a private ceremony in New York in 2012. This was a true love story that has become such a rarity in society today. 

Really it is indicative of his nature; he was loyal and compassionate, which came across in his acting, his charitable contributions and his other personal relationships. A true actor's actor, his performances and his life will remain with his fans forever through his many works. He will be trending for many years to come because his characters will never go out of style. The villains, the heroes, they are all saved on film for people to watch and revel in his great gift. He will be missed. Always. To celebrate his legacy we've compiled a list of our favorite top 10 films from Alan Rickman's amazing career. 

Top Alan Rickman Roles

Some say the only person who every successfully wrote both comedies and tragedies was an Englishman named William Shakespeare. We know no actor who can pull off a comedic and a tragic role—along with that of the complicated villain, the quirky supporting character, and crazy awesome voice gigs—better than the late Alan Rickman. Compiled below are our favorite Alan Rickman film performances.


In Kevin Smith’s Dogma, Rickman appears as the angel Metatron, the voice of God. He bestows Bethany with a holy quest to stop the angels Loki and Bartleby from reaching a church in New Jersey, which will allow them to re-ascend to heaven. He also reveals to her that angels don’t have sex organs. Acting alongside Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, George Carlin, Linda Fiorentino, Chris Rock, and Bud Cort, this cast is more star-studded than a goth’s leather choker. Our man shines as the sexless, disillusioned voice of God. 

The Harry Potter Series

In 1991, Michael Jordan put the team on his back and beat the Lakers three times in L.A. In 2001, Alan Rickman put the team on his back and single-handedly generated nuance in Chris Columbus’ Sorcerer’s Stone. Daniel Radcliffe bombed; the special effects/animation depicting magic was so lame. Alan Rickman as Snape managed to set the film in a mysterious world that was pulled back and forth by forces of good and evil. 

Sweeny Todd

As a young man, Alan Rickman started a graphic design firm with a group of his friends. Despite success and a bright future, Rickman left the studio for the stage. His theater resume includes both Shakespeare and a cornucopia of modern theater. Singing into Johnny Depp’s face must have been a downright homecoming. Playing a corrupt judge/Woody-Allen-as-a-parent type, Alan Rickman is Judge Turpin who took in Sweeney Todd’s daughter, Johanna, after he got Todd falsely convicted and raped his wife. After raising her, he is now in love with her. And he’s got a killer tenor.

Galaxy Quest

The highly self-conscious Galaxy Quest parodies Star Trek and its fan base (along with other similar shows). The level of this parody is epic: the film not only features Alan Rickman playing a frustrated theater actor who only found fame as the science expert on a spaceship, but it also presents Sigourney Weaver feeling jaded as a sexualized sci-fi female lead when Ridley Scott’s Alien broke that mold in favor of the bad-bitch. Rickman has voiced concern that he has been typecast as a villain, just as Alexandre Dane complains he has been typecast in the film, just as Leonard Nimoy did before him.

Die Hard

Maybe Rickman is typecast as the complicated villain too often, but that’s because he does it so damn well. When Hans Gruber and McClane (Bruce Willis) meet, Rickman’s desperate American accent is so good that it never fails to convince new viewers. Rickman’s death scene was filmed in one take in front of a green screen. Before he was prepared, he was dropped 70 feet, and the look of terror on his face is no doubt genuine.

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

Rickman turned down the role of the Sheriff of Nottingham twice before the studio told him he would have complete creative control over the character. He earned a BAFTA for it, and the Guardian’s Lanre Bakare described his performance as “a genuinely great performance.” Ya, duh Lanre. Overall, the film was so-so, but damn, Rickman does corrupt medieval evil to the nines. Hmm Rickman propping up a lackluster film with his performance … sound familiar?

Sense and Sensibility

Emma Thompson took five years to write and rewrite this screenplay based on an 1811 Jane Austen novel of the same name. Ang Lee directs; Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman co-star. The film made mad dough and earned critical praise. To write this blockbuster, Thompson made a few changes, namely with the male characters. Thompson was glad to give Rickman the venue to forgo his “Machiavellian types” and to act with the “extraordinary sweetness [of] his nature.” A Jane Austen scholar countered that “The changes that Emma Thompson’s screenplay makes to the male characters, if anything, allow them to be less culpable, more likeable, and certainly less sexist or patriarchal.”

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

In 2008, linguist Andrew Linn and sound engineer Shannon Harris conducted a study in an attempt to find the perfect male and female voice. A combination of Jeremy Irons and our man grabbed the number one spot. As the voice of Marvin the Paranoid Android, Alan Rickman proves Helen Mirren’s statement that his voice “could suggest honey or a hidden stiletto blade.” (Mirren’s voice can also be heard on the film as that of Deep Thought.) Marvin’s whole shtick is that he is a robot who feels emotions, namely depression. He gloom even saves the day at one point.

Truly Madly Deeply

Jamie (Alan Rickman) is a cellist with a mustache who dies. His girlfriend, Nina (Juliet Stevenson) is beset with grief until Rickman returns as a ghost. The couple reunites until Jamie begins driving Nina crazy with his ghost antics and inviting his ghost friends back to their place to watch movies. Yes, the film Ghost starring Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze had virtually the same plot and it came out the same year. Yes, both male leads died untimely deaths at the hands of pancreatic cancer. Yes, both Swayze and Rickman could be ghosts.

Love Actually

It’s Christmas, and Harry (Alan Rickman) is married to Karen (Emma Thompson). Sound familiar? This time he’s the director of an ad agency and his new secretary, Mia (Heike Makatsch), is way sexy and totally single. In a covert-Xmas-gift-to-the-secretary-gone-wrong, Karen figures it all out and Christmas is ruined, for them. Harry repents and the future is uncertain. This is our number one choice for the reason that Rickman, the reptile of the silver screen, gets to fully flex that massive acting bicep. A villain with a sweet office and a hot secretary who repents. Thank you Mr. Rickman, you provide the nutmeg garnish to this vanilla ice cream of romantic comedies. What else is there left to say? We miss you, Alan Rickman. 

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