Alan Rickman, Famous for Complex Characters, Dies


Lucas Robins, Staff Writer

By Lucas Robins ‘16

Staff Writer


On January 16th of this year, the world lost a talented actor and singer: Alan Rickman. Rickman, famous for playing complex villainous characters (Severus Snape in the Harry Potter movies, Hans Gruber in Die Hard, and the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: The Prince of Thieves), passed away at age 69 from cancer. While his death has saddened many people, he lives on in his accomplishments and in his work.

Rickman started his career in the performing arts in 1978 when he joined the Royal Shakespeare Company. For the first ten years of his career, he was a star of straight plays and musicals, with his subtle, restrained style of acting endearing him to British audiences. In 1988, he was nominated for a Tony award for his leading role in Les Liaisons Dangereuses, and later that same year he gained popularity with American audiences in his first movie role as Hans Gruber, the main villain in Die Hard. With Rickman’s strategic and masterful performance, Hans Gruber is often considered the best villain in the Die Hard movie series.

After Die Hard in 1988, Rickman had prominent roles in three different movies in 1991: Close My Eyes; Truly, Madly, Deeply; and Robin Hood-The Prince of Thieves. While the first two movies were considered romantic and displayed Rickman’s acting versatility, he had begun to be pigeonholed as a villain actor with his roles in Robin Hood and Die Hard (later this idea was backed by his role in Harry Potter movies). In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, when asked if he was a villain actor, Rickman responded “I don’t see any of my roles as one word. It doesn’t matter what I am playing: it’s not one word, and I think any actor would say the same.”

After his earlier iconic roles, Rickman became familiar with modern audiences in his role as Severus Snape in the Harry Potter movies. In that role, he was again portrayed as a villainous actor, but he was able to show a multilayered and complex character, especially in the later movies. His fantastic portrayal of Severus Snape was able to completely change the public perception of this character by the end of The Deathly Hallows Part 2.