Alan Rickman, the versatile British stage and screen actor with a voice seemingly made of dark velvet, died of cancer this week at the age of 69. In a career that began nearly 40 years ago, he played numerous roles; here are five of our favorites from the big screen.
Professor Severus Snape, in eight “Harry Potter” films: A generation grew up hearing Rickman slooooowly intooonnning aaallll his lines, in that deliciously deliberate, oily way that Snape had. Rickman played him as a tragic figure, and a fascinating one – a shadow of a man, whose silence held a story we couldn’t wait to hear.
Colonel Brandon, in “Sense and Sensibility.” Opposite Kate Winslet in this delightful 1995 Jane Austen adaptation, Rickman was every inch the brooding, noble gentleman – and, dare we say, the thinking woman’s heartthrob. (How many fell in love with him at the line “The air is full of spices”?)
Hans Gruber, “Die Hard.” Nobody was better at haughty sneering than Rickman. Without him coolly terrorizing a skyscraper-ful of cowering hostages and icily ordering his minions to dispose of Bruce Willis’ pesky cop John McClane, it’s doubtful the picture would have been the breakout hit it was. A great villain always makes a hero up his game.
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Alexander Dane, “Galaxy Quest.” Rickman also excelled at high-quality petulance, as his work in this film made very clear. How his character hated saying the catchphrase “By Grabthar’s hammer, by the suns of Worvan, you shall be avenged.” After all, he fumed, “I played Richard III! … There were five curtain calls. I was an actor once, damn it. Now look at me. Look at me!” Hilarious.
Jamie, “Truly Madly Deeply.” Rickman was also very convincing playing a real sweetie. Ladies and gentlemen, we give you “Truly Madly Deeply,” and his touching performance as a ghost who drives the love of his life bonkers and then selflessly allows her to move on with her life.