My heart is deeply saddened by the loss of one of Britain’s greatest artists. He is gone too soon, way too soon. Surely, we’ve been cheated of at least a decade more of his on screen presence?
It was the first news to hit me, hard in the face, when I opened my Facebook feed yesterday afternoon. No wonder of course, seeing as I’m on multiple Facebook groups dedicated to the Harry Potter franchise. It could not be a hoax, as the first article to come up was from The Guardian and no ill-meaning petty website. Alan Rickman has, indeed, left this world.
I am at a loss for words, too devastated and shocked by his untimely demise, for at 69 and a relatively late bloomer in the film and theatre industry, I’m sure he had many more acting opportunities coming his way. I feel his loss as I would that of a dear friend, for despite never having met him face to face, I’ve spent countless hours watching him as one character or another on screen. He was on my list of features to write, marked as one of the actors I couldn’t not dedicate a whole article to. And instead, I find myself writing a eulogy.
My first reaction when the truth finally sank in was to look at my poster from Love Actually (2003), in which he plays the cheating Harry, alongside on screen wife Emma Thompson. A real-life friend, Thompson mourned his loss in a tribute that mentions “his humour, intelligence, wisdom, and kindness.”
Image: Alan Rickman in Love Actually (2003)
However she is not alone in speaking about this tragedy. Harry Potter fans the world over are mourning the loss of what must be the most complex character in the series, one that an actor of less talent than Rickman would’ve probably struggled to bring to life. He is best known by younger generations for his part as Severus Snape in Harry Potter’s magic-filled adventures. Author J.K. Rowling writes Snape off in her last episode to the story, killing him at the hands of the despicable Lord Voldemort as part of the plot. Despite this, or maybe because of it, fans of the franchise looked to Alan Rickman as the embodiment of Snape, a way to keep their preferred character alive after death, if you will.
Image: Alan Rickman in Harry Potter
One of my favourite of his roles has to be that of the gallant but stiff Colonel Brandon in the film adaptation of Sense and Sensibility (1995). Also noteworthy is his performance as P.L. O’Hara in Mike Newell’s An Awfully Big Adventure (1995), which is another favourite of mine. In fact, the one consolation I have is that he will live on in the roles he’s portrayed, scenes stored on DVDs that I will now treasure all the more for being a memento of his greatness on screen.
And for those of us who want even more than the old films all over again, Alan thankfully finished dubbing the part of the Blue Caterpillar in Disney’s upcoming Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016).
Image: Alan Rickman in Sense and Sensibility (1995)