Alan Rickman has died at the age of 69 from cancer, it has been announced. This comes in the same week as the late, great David Bowie, whose death was announced on Monday, another death who was completely unexpected.
An expert on stage and screen, I first saw Alan Rickman in the incredible genre-defining actioner, Die Hard – released in the US in July 1988 but not surfacing in the UK until February 3rd the next year, where he led the baddies as Hans Gruber, not realising the moxie of then-youthful cop John McClane (Bruce Willis).
I’ve never seen a Harry Potter film, so have eight films of his revered performance as Severus Snape yet to experience, but a third time he set the bar as Englishman playing the villain came with 1991’s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, where he was the Sheriff of Nottingham whose decree to “Call off Christmas” was not the original choice of the final instruction in that sentence, but they felt it was best to move it to the end. In the cinemas, and for years on DVD and then Blu-ray, the film was only available in a censored PG-rated version, but for a while now, the uncut version is available.
Rickman made his mark in so many other fantastic movies, the best known including Galaxy Quest, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Sense and Sensibility, Love Actually and the voice of Marvin the Paranoid Android in the 2005 movie version of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. And next year, he returns as the Blue Caterpillar in Tim Burton‘s Alice Through the Looking Glass.
His directing include The Winter Guest in the late ’90s, starring Emma Thompson and her mother, Phyllida Law, as well as last year’s A Little Chaos, starring Kate Winslet.
However, two of his earlier films, you must see – Truly Madly Deeply, where he acted opposite Juliet Stevenson, a production which first appeared on BBC2 and THEN was given a cinema release. And also the contraversial Close My Eyes, as the husband of Saskia Reeves, who embarked on a relationship with her brother, Clive Owen.
Another entry you must see is the BBC2 drama, which has never been repeated to my knowledge, The Song of Lunch, where he plays a London publisher, recounting a lunchtime reunion with a former lover, played by Emma Thompson, in poetic monologue. It was quite something and I hope they repeat it soon.
I’ll leave you with the trailer for the movie where I first saw Alan Rickman, and as I learned always at his best – Die Hard:
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.