Top 10 Alan Rickman
Die Hard (1988)
Alan Rickman made his bad guy debut as German terrorist Hans Gruber in 1988, opposite all-American action hero Bruce Willis. Rickman is pitted off against Willis’ character, good guy cop John McClane, in a classic eighties thriller which takes place in a New York skyscraper on Christmas Eve. The role had the potential to boost Rickman’s career in Hollywood, but he coyly side-stepped the opportunity in favour of more challenging and appealing projects. Interestingly, director John McTiernan is rumoured to have ruffled Rickman’s feathers when he dropped the Brit-born star from a window, a few seconds earlier than intended - in a bid to create an authentic response for Gruber’s death scene.
Truly Madly Deeply (1991)
In a BBC film written and directed by Anthony Minghella, Rickman stars as deceased cellist Jamie who returns to his girlfriend Nina (Juliet Stevenson), in an ethereal vision. The plot never clarifies whether Jamie is simply a figment of Nina’s imagination or a ghost; instead it cleverly leaves his resumed presence in her life open to interpretation by the audience. Rickman’s portrayal of Jamie earned him a BAFTA nomination and the film was also awarded a BAFTA for Best Screenplay.
Kevin Reynolds’ nineties adventure film, saw Rickman return to his villainous ways as Robin Hood’s arch nemesis, the sleazy Sheriff of Nottingham. The traditional tale of Robin Hood was given a Hollywood makeover, to include an all-star cast and a big-budget production. With Kevin Costner as Robin of Locksley (minus the tights) and Morgan Freeman as his swashbuckling side-kick, the film received mixed reviews from critics but went down a storm with audiences worldwide. Most famously Bryan Adams’ Everything I Do - featured in the film – kept audiences hooked on the plot’s central love story between Robin and Maid Marian (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio), with its staggering 16 week reign over the music charts.
Sense And Sensibility (1995)
Ang Lee’s period piece put Rickman back on British soil to pay the charming Colonel Christopher Brandon. In the screen adaptation of the novel, Rickman’s character falls head over heels for one of the young Dashwood sisters, Marianne (Kate Winslet). At first, the feeling isn’t quite mutual for the young Marianne, who instead has her heart set on the dashing John Willoughby (Greg Wise). Emma Thompson – who wrote the screenplay – almost lost her notes on a faulty laptop. In a bid to save the screenplay she called on close pal Stephen Fry for some technical support, who skilfully managed to retrieve the lost file from her computer.
Michael Collins (1996)
The historical biopic of Micheal Collins illustrates the life and death of an Irish patriot in the Irish Civil War. Rickman lends his acting talents in a supporting role, alongside leading man Liam Neeson, as Éamon de Valera. Neil Jordan originally had John Turturro in mind for the role of de Valera, but Brit-born Rickman won over the director with his powerful interpretation of the politician. Éamon de Valera is depicted in history as one of Ireland’s significant leaders in the struggle for independence from the United Kingdom. The film won the Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival.
Rickman’s willingness to shy away from mainstream leads in favour of off-beat supporting parts can be seen in Kevin Smith’s 1999 fantasy comedy, Dogma. Rickman plays The Metatron – an angel Gabriel type figure – who comes down to earth to watch over a descendent of Jesus, Bethany Slaone (Linda Fiorentino). Rickman gives a dry and witty performance as the angel, who reveals himself as a eunuch by flashing his loin-less nether regions at the onset of the film. The film’s present day take on Catholicism sparked controversy amongst religious groups who reportedly wrote over 300,000 hate letters to Smith. In response Smith later said, "You gotta find the line, and then cross it."
Rickman made his debut as former Death Eater Severus Snape in 2000, after Warner Brothers decided to give J.K. Rowling’s popular children’s book the silver screen stamp. Snape is entrusted by wizard Dumbledore (Richard Harris) to head up the house of Slytherin at Hogwarts School. But it is his dislike for famous boy wizard Harry Potter(Daniel Radcliffe), coupled with his disturbingly dark demeanour, which casts a shadow over Snape’s intentions towards the children. Rickman donned black hair and sullen face (reminiscent of the Sherriff of Nottingham) to play the Slytherin team leader.
Love Actually (2003)
Rickman teams up with Emma Thompson for a second time around in Richard Curtis’ Christmas cracker, Love Actually. Broken into several sub-plots, the film centres on the lives and loves of a group of people at Christmas. Rickman’s character Harry begins to flirt with the idea of an affair with his hot office assistant (Heike Makatsch), but as the holidays approach his wife (Emma Thompson) becomes suspicious. Rickman channels his character’s confusion perfectly, but it’s Thompson’s scene stealing moment of realisation about the potential affair, which set Love Actually apart from just another stereotypical romcom.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005)
Garth Jennings’ adaptation of the cult science fiction comedy book by Douglas Adams, tells the whimsical tale of human stupidity in the face of an apocalypse. Rickman is the voice of Marvin the Paranoid Android. In true sci-fi style the film follows its characters through time and space, with a satirical twist. Less a box-office smash and more a lo-fi hit, Hitchhikers received favourable reviews from its critics and went onto to be a firm favourite amongst sci-fi fans.
Tim Burton’s deliciously dark film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's 1979 stage musical sees Rickman starring alongside Johnny Depp, as the ruthless Judge Turpin. Rickman found himself singing to a disturbing tune in Burton’s wicked script. Sweeney Todd sets up a local barber shop, with the intention of cutting Turpin’s throat for raping his beloved (Laura Michelle Kelly). Burton later described the excessive bloodshed, in his film, as representative of power and catharsis, which he claimed was missing from the original stage production.
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