Days after the death of legendary artist David Bowie, the world lost another great in the death of actor Alan Rickman from cancer on Jan. 14.
It’s here, listening to John Williams’ nostalgic score, that I realize how much Alan Rickman impacted the lives of our generation. The “Harry Potter” series was a staple of our childhood growing up, with all the wizardry and magic that enveloped our imagination. Many of us knew the character played by Alan Rickman, Snape, as one in the most beloved and intriguing characters in the film series, with his villainous sense of wit and eventual redemption. His role in that film franchise, along with 67 of his other acting credits, including “Die Hard,” “Robin Hood,” and “Sweeney Todd,” were uniquely memorable. Rickman never failed to add flavor to whichever project he was involved with.
Rickman was born in West London, England in 1946. He pursued acting, but it wasn’t until his mid-30s that he joined the Royal Shakespeare Company, which served as a launching pad for his lucrative career. He spent his time working on numerous plays with the company, while also playing roles in serials and radio dramas. His name rose to prominence in the 80s when he took on the villainous role of Hans Gruber in “Die Hard.” Rickman took on other roles in Hollywood, and even earned a Golden Globe for his work in “Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny,” but nothing would prepare him for the immediate fame and success of the “Harry Potter” global phenomenon we are all so familiar with.
It’s been said that J.K. Rowling had wanted Rickman to play the role of Snape from the start, but Rickman had his reservations. To convince him, she apparently gave him backstory to the character that was not released to the public until the final “Harry Potter” book was published in 2007. It would have been interesting to see what would have happened if Rickman had not taken on that career-defining role, but we’re glad we live in a world where he did. During and after the successful run of “Harry Potter,” Rickman was also seen playing roles in “Alice in Wonderland,” Lee Daniel’s “The Butler,” and “Love Actually.”
Not since the death of Robin Williams has an actor so ingrained in our childhood passed away. It certainly will be hard to look back at Rickman’s movies and not feel a bit emotional, but that’s a testament to his work. Thank you for lighting up our hearts, Mr. Rickman; we raise our wands toward the sky in your name. Always.