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This article was first published 8 years ago  » Movies » Best of Alan Rickman: Much more than a villain

Best of Alan Rickman: Much more than a villain

By Sukanya Verma
Last updated on: January 15, 2016 17:02 IST
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Saluting Alan Rickman.

Every single tribute to the late British actor Alan Rickman recalls his rich, penetrating gaze and drawling yet imperious voice. And understandably so.

But the actor's real talent is in the uniqueness he rendered his exquisite traits to create a series of unforgettable characters.

That someone as commanding as him is no more just won’t sink in.

Born in London to a painter-decorator father and housewife mother, Rickman showed an interest in the creative arena from an early age and went on to attain a diploma in art and graphic designs. It would be a while before he recognised his true calling lies in something slightly more dramatic.

Following an acting course at the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, Rickman actively pursued stage and small screen. Already in his 40s then, it was his sophisticated antagonist to Bruce Willis as Hans Gruber in action classic, Die Hard that put Rickman on the map and gave Hollywood one of its most steely villains.

Although he essayed evil at its most intimidating, most memorably as Professor Snape in the Harry Potter series, there is a lot more to Alan Rickman’s oeuvre than a chilling scowl.

Here’s saluting the master performer and his best films.

Die Hard 

Die Hard

The best heroes need the best villains.

And John McClane sure got his in the unrelenting menace and smooth sarcasm of Rickman’s incredibly nuanced delivery of terrorist Hans Gruber.

Sample this: 'You know my name but who are you? Just another American who saw too many movies as a child? Another orphan of a bankrupt culture who thinks he's John Wayne? Rambo? Marshal Dillon?'

The Harry Potter Film Series

Alan Rickman

J K Rowling gave Rickman a clue about her plans for an antihero finish to Professor Severus Snape to convince him to get on board.

Snide, sly, mysterious, caustic, charismatic -- Rickman’s all-black adorning, dour-faced wizard teaching potions at Hogwarts school is assumed to be all kinds of cruel until the real surprise package of the series is revealed at the end.

Sense & Sensibility

Alan Rickman

For Ang Lee’s gorgeous adaptation of Jane Austen’s novel, Rickman bares a tender, vulnerable facet of his personality to create the besotted, poetry-reciting Colonel Brandon around Kate Winslet’s reckless Marianne -- from the time she disregards him for the sneaky Willoughby to the point she falls back on him.

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

Alan Rickman

Rickman has a ball as the proverbial baddie and tyrant with punchy, witty lines galore to boot as the Sheriff of Nottingham in the 1990s smash hit. His comic timing elevates a standard costume potboiler into wicked fun.

Here’s proof: 'Wait a minute. Robin Hood steals money from my pocket, forcing me to hurt the public, and they love him for it? That's it then. Cancel the kitchen scraps for lepers and orphans, no more merciful beheadings, and call off Christmas.'

Quigley Down Under

Alan Rickman

In this underrated Australian western, Rickman slips into offensive mode yet again to duel with its titular star Tom Selleck to exciting lengths.

The British veteran made quite an impression on the late critic Roger Ebert who wrote, 'He has a polished grace that serves here to suggest evil dimensions just beneath the surface.'

Truly Madly Deeply

Alan Rickman

The Anthony Minghella-directed BBC afterlife drama features Rickman as a deceased cellist who reappears in his girlfriend’s life to help her move on by acting difficult.

It's almost Ghost-reminiscent premise notwithstanding, Rickman’s superlative turn received tremendous acclaim across various international film festivals.

Michael Collins

Alan Rickman

Despite various questions on its historical accuracy, there’s no doubting Rickman’s efficiency.

His dry, languid presence ably conveys the myths and methods of Irish political figure Eamon de Valera unwilling to see eye to eye with Liam Neeson’s eponymous revolutionary in the Neil Jordan drama.

Galaxy Quest

Alan Rickman

Alan Rickman is all quirk and humour in this cult classic, an obvious parody on Star Trek and the fan mania surrounding.

As a cancelled series star of a sci-fi show catching the fancy of real-time aliens while in character, Rickman regales in moments of ingenious hilarity.

Close My Eyes

Close My Eyes

A love triangle is never an easy space to be caught in, even trickier if it involves incest.

Rickman plays the filthy rich husband of an insecure woman engaged in a tempestuous affair with her younger brother, wherein his erudite appeal and deep insight combine to give a better understanding of a fragile person under the refined surface.



It’s not a lengthy role but Rickman is a scream as Megatron, the voice of God in Kevin Smith’s irreverent Dogma.

The man actually sets the screen on fire in his first scene itself and keeps popping every now and then to steal the show with his matchless quips: 'Tell a person that you're the Metatron and they stare at you blankly. Mention something out of a Charlton Heston movie and suddenly everybody is a theology scholar.'

Love Actually

Alan Rickman

A husband cheating on his wife with the hot secretary is an old movie cliché but Rickman’s approach to his character in Love Actually explains why his performance stands out.

'A film like Love Actually is fairly restrained but it's not less of a challenge. It can be much easier in a way to come on all guns blazing. A lot of what Love Actually is about what isn't being said -- between me and Emma (Thompson, who plays his wife in the movie), anyway,' he said in an interview once.

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Sukanya Verma