It is sad enough to have to acknowledge the passing of one of the great actors of our time, but to do so without really knowing the man would be a shame. So I hope to offer a look at the man as well as the actor the world came to know and love. Also, the biographical information you read below is mostly from wikipedia. I honest to God knew very little about the man. The information on his movies, however, is my own information from over the years. (Yes, I'm covering my butt here. lol)
Alan Sidney Patrick Rickman was born on February 21st, 1946, in Acton, London, England, to a working-class family helmed by a housewife and a factory worker. He won an art scholarship, which helped him attend Latymer Upper School, where he became involved in drama. Some years later, he attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA) from 1972 to 1974. He supported himself by working as a dresser to actors such as Sir Nigel Hawthorne and Sir Ralph Richardson while studying Shakespeare. After he graduated from the Royal Academy, Alan worked extensively with on-stage theatre troupes and various experimental acting group productions, long before his big break in 1982 which gave him his first break on television. He played the Reverend Obadiah Slope in "The Barchester Chronicles" on the BBC. He acted constantly, it seemed, and in 1988 the world would be introduced to him and he would never be forgotten.
In 1988 Alan starred opposite Bruce Willis in the action thriller classic "Die Hard", as the German terrorist Hans Gruber, and the movie made international movie stars of both of them. As well as starting a series of long-running "Die Hard" sequels, it also started both Alan's and Willis' movie careers for decades to come. But Alan would still act on tv from time to time, as he never forgot his acting roots, and wanted to be able to pay homage to the places where his career began. One of his most memorable villains was the Sheriff of Nottingham, in "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves". t was here that he was able to not only show how evil he could be as a character, but he also displayed incredible comic timing, not only playing the Sheriff at his worst moments, but also playing him reaching such heights of near-madness that he made the unforgettable statement of "I'm gonna cut your heart out with a spoon!!" I mean, come on, now, WHO could forget such a ridiculous line? And I laughed long and hard at that one as well as everybody else did, I'm sure.
It was largely known that Alan didn't like being typecast as a villain, even though he was known for playing unsympathetic characters. He also played a number of comedic roles, such as Metatron the Voice of God in "Dogma", Marvin the Paranoid Android in "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy", as well as Dr. Lazarus in the somewhat cult classic "Galaxy Quest", which was a kind of parody of "Star Trek", "Buck Rogers" and other space-based tv series.
He also proved himself able to act in a western, in such a case as the Tom Selleck movie "Quigley Down Under", as the evil rancher Elliot Marston.
It seemed to be a one-time thing for both Alan and Selleck, who didn't seem to want to to act in westerns anymore. Shooting in Australia was exhausting and the heat was nearly more than Selleck could handle, not easy to say about a man who had acted in such tv movies as "The Sacketts" and "The Shadow Riders".
But it was when he was cast as Professor Severus Snape in the "Harry Potter" movies that he would be at his busiest for over a decade, even though he would act in other movies at the same time.
Who could hope to forget the classic pairing of Alan Rickman and Daniel Radcliffe in what would become a classic movie series? We were led to believe, for so long, that Snape was a truly heartless letch who not only faithfully served You-Know-Who, but was more than eager to serve up Harry to him on a silver platter. But as the series progressed, we began to learn more about this elusive character, and his real emotions in the end toward Harry and his mother.
In all fairness, we couldn't have been more misled about Snape's connection to Harry, and so we only believed him to be a villain of the highest rank. And in this most revealing way, we also get to see the depths of Alan's abilities as an actor, to play this "dark wizard" so well for so long, and being able to pull a few surprises of his own for us to gawk at and wonder, "What the hell just happened?!"
Unfortunately, Snape had become Alan's signature character, and it was kind of a stigma that he couldn't shake for a while, so he didn't try to. He played other villains, of course, such as the vile Judge Turpin in the Tim Burton-directed adaptation of "Sweeney Todd", which also showed off his great singing ability.
Between the later "Harry Potter" movies, Alan also voiced the blue caterpillar Absolem in "Alice in Wonderland". The reason I bring this up is because he plays Absolem once again in what would be his final performance, "Alice Through the Looking-Glass", due out in May of this year. But how much further can I go on about this man with knowing so little about him? How much more can the fans really know about him, knowing that he liked his private life private? Sadly, without the help of Wikipedia, I can't.