Last week the world lost a film icon, a great man, and one of the smoothest, chocolaty-est voices in the world. I am referring, of course, to Alan Rickman. A man who made us laugh, made us cry, and made us wonder what in the world Harry Potter’s mom was thinking, when she married that spindly little Potter dude. I mean, come on, Lilly.
Lilly Potter’s unfortunate decisions aside, I’d thought this would be a good time to take a look at ten of my favorite Alan Rickman performances in honor of the late, great actor. Obviously, any Alan Rickman performance was a great performance but these are the movies of his that I personally enjoyed most.
Now, just to get out in front of people throwing full bottles of wine at their computer screens: No, Love Actually is not on this list. It’s a great movie… it’s a good movie… It’s a movie. But Alan Rickman isn’t really in it. I mean that movie features more time with that guy from the walking dead really creepily flirting with Kiera Knightly on her wedding day than it features Alan Rickman! So, no. It’s not here. But you know what is here?
Let’s be real clear here: Gambit is not a great movie. First off: It has Cameron Diaz in it so… that instantly drags it downward. But it also features many awesome scenes with both Collin Firth and (of course) Alan Rickman. It even (oh so briefly) features Alan Rickman’s old man butt!! And what could be better than that? It’s just a fun, heist movie, where Alan Rickman is at his full on grumpy, British, best. It won’t (and shouldn’t) ever be listed among his greatest performances but it’s just a fun time watching Rickman at his grumpiest.
9. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and Galaxy Quest
Okay I combined these two movies cause they’re both in the same sort of quirky space film genre and because The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy has a fairly low RPM (Rickman’s Per Minute) but when he is on screen/voice he’s great. Very rarely do you run across a character in a movie that sounds exactly like the character in the book did in your head, and Marvin the Robot is definitely one of those characters. As far as Galaxy Quest goes “By Grabthar’s Hammer” (for better or worst) remains one of Rickman’s most famous lines… that’s probably for worse right???
8. Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone
Obviously, there is more Harry Potter on this list but I threw this movie up here just because in the earlier movies (really right up until Half-Blood Prince) Snape was a fairly shallow character. I mean, obviously, there was a lot of depth there but that depth didn’t really start to show itself till later on. That said, there’s nothing wrong with Snape being Snape. Severus Snape.
Dumbledore!!! (sorry… I couldn’t help it)
Going WAY back into the old Alan Archives for this one, but believe it or not this is the performance for which he won the most awards (as far as I can tell.) I figured it merited inclusion on this list cause it has a very high RPM and he’s very good in it. That said: it’s a 1996 HBO movie about the life of Rasputin. It’s not the best movie ever. That saying said: you can watch the whole thing on YouTube and the only cost will be the vague feeling of guilt, that hovers over light theft. You pirate, you.
6. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Real creeptastic performance by Rickman here. I mean, he’s REALLY good in this movie… maybe too good in fact. Good to the point where you’re kind of ashamed for enjoying his performance. But he sings! And gets his throat (spoilers) slit. So there’s that. In a random aside the song “I Feel You Johanna” is the worst song ever, and is in that movie WAY too much. Every third frame in the film features that little orphan, waif, pirate, stumbling around sadly staring at a spruce tree and singing about freekin’ Johanna!!!
Okay… I feel better now.
5. Michael Collins
A little known, but really great movie that features kind of a low RPM, but also has several great scenes between Alan Rickman and a top of his game Liam Neeson. Also, at one point Alan steals some keys from a priest and makes what might be the greatest Alan Rickman face ever. This is a VERY under rated movie and Rickman’s performance is really solid.
4. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
Okay so this is probably the first Harry Potter movie that Rickman really got a chance to cut loose and show the depth that good old Severus Snape had all along. I’m gonna talk more about Snape in a second here but suffice to say, Half Blood Prince was the first movie that we got a real glimpse at the character Rickman had spent the last decade or so carefully cultivating.
3. The Song of Lunch
All right, so my 1 and 2 choices on this list will probably surprise exactly no one but I’m flying way WAY under the radar with this one. The Song of Lunch was a PBS production of a poem by Christopher Reid. It stars Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson and most of the films ‘dialogue’ is poetic narration by Alan Rickman. It is a very artsy film (i.e. nothing happens) but Rickman and Thompson are fantastic and his voiceover is just incredible. You can get this on Amazon for like 2 bucks and it’s just amazing. I watched it once and I’ve actually played it a couple times in the background of my computer just listening to the narration like it was an audio book or something. Seriously guys: it’s really good. If you don’t mind a very slow pace, introspective type of film and you’re an Alan Rickman fan this should really be stop number one. It’s fantastic.
2. Die Hard
And on the exact opposite end of the action spectrum we have Die Hard. Rickman’s first big movie role and still one of his best. Sure it’s a VERY 80’s movie and features a whole lot of Bruce Willis’s widows peak, but Rickman is just great as Hans Gruber. I mean the guys name is Hans Gruber, for crying out loud, and yet he is still kind of terrifying!! It’s that isn’t great acting I don’t know what is.
1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Okay… let’s talk Severus Snape. So The Deathly Hallows Part 2 is (and yes I’m gonna spoil it so you’ve somehow managed to avoid all of the spoilers for this 4 year old movie and you somehow still care, stop reading here) the big reveal about Snape and Harry’s mom and how Snape really felt about Harry and Dumbledore and all that stuff. Now, Rickman is great in this movie and delivers an incredible performance in both the flashbacks and the modern day scenes but to really understand how freeking good Alan Rickman was as Snape you have to watch the whole series over again and just watch what he does. Over the course of a decades worth of films Alan Rickman built a character with such incredible nuance that you really didn’t even realize he was doing it. That’s why I think this is his best role because it’s when the curtain pulls back and you really get a great look at what he accomplished in ten years. It’s a one of a kind acting accomplishment that will be virtually impossible for anyone to duplicate. Ever.
So there you have it. Alan Rickman, a fantastic actor with a fantastic voice who was taken from us far too soon. I found a quote of his recently that I really thought summarized his whole career so incredibly well and I can think of no better way to end this incredibly subjective list of his movies with an incredibly un-subjective, and beautiful summary of what he gave to all of us. Thanks, Alan.