In the space of less than a week, it would seem British entertainment cannot take any more loss: the death of David Bowie last Sunday and now the late Alan Rickman, both of whom coincidentally died at the age of 69.
Alan Rickman born in Acton, West London in 1946 had family originating in England, Ireland and Wales. Initially becoming involved in drama only in secondary school, Rickman’s interests soon turned to a more as it would seem, appropriate, career choice at the time, graphic design. After attending two prestigious colleges studying the latter however, he would consider once and for all if acting was what he truly wanted to do. Luckily for us, it was and so, very different from the standards of today, Rickman wrote a letter requesting an audition and was successfully accepted into The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) one of the best drama schools in the world.
Studying acting is risky but not dissimilar to other legends that have walked the floors of RADA – Sean Bean, Ralph Fiennes, Imelda Staunton – Rickman too went on to do brilliant things. As part of the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), his initial work in theatre must not be forgotten, playing roles in, As You Like It, Romeo and Juliet and A View from the Bridge to name a few. It would take all day to sit here and remind you of the brilliant films that this acting hero has starred in, but for me, a few favourites have to be: Hans Gruber in the first Die Hard alongside Bruce Willis, a cold and ruthless German terrorist; after watching this for the first time over christmas, I can now understand his vocal inspiration for Snape. Jamie in Truly Madly Deeply, Harry in Love Actually, a middle-aged husband cheating on his wife amongst the many other intertwining story lines and of course, not forgetting his decade long commitment to the role of Severus Snape in J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. Who could forget the haunting bass of his voice and that look at Harry when he utters the words, ‘Mr Potter…’.
Aside from his contributions to entertainment, Rickman was a one woman man, godfather to actor Tom Burke and great believer in charity, helping those in poverty stricken conditions to lead healthier, safer lives. A bird watcher, a traveller and a man who was committed to helping younger performers thrive in their careers – Daniel Radcliffe – fellow actors have said he was always willing to give advice and show the way to those not as experienced. He may have been the dark and mystical Severus Snape to some but beneath that it would seem, as many of the Harry Potter cast is, he was a warm hearted, versatile and hard working actor, passionate about entertaining us with stellar performances. A true British acting icon who will no doubt be missed.