Alan Rickman: A Thespian Gone

Ben Atwater

Most recently, famous artists to pass have shocked the world, from David Bowie to Rene Angelil. When artists capture our hearts, it forms a bond that makes it that much more tragic when they are gone.

Iconic actor Alan Rickman passed on Jan. 14  (AP photo)
Iconic actor Alan Rickman passed on Jan. 14
(AP photo)

Most recent to join the list of deceased artists is the British actor Alan Rickman. Rickman passed away of cancer on the morning of Jan. 14. I found out during RA training, when before a seminar, the RD put the MSN article on screen for all to see. The initial response of the other RAs was one of shock, as no one really knew Alan Rickman had been battling cancer for the past few years. So, the entire morning had a bit of a gloomy pall over it. All those in the room observed a moment of silence, and rightfully so.

Alan Rickman is most known to college kids as Hogwarts professor Severus Snape in the Harry Potter film series. Based on the same character in JK Rowling’s best-selling young adult novels, Professor Snape was one of the most interesting characters in the Harry Potter series, as he always came off as sly and scheming, yet, in the end, proved to be the most tragic character of all. Alan Rickman played Snape with such restraint so as to perfectly mask the secret plots that were really going on behind the scenes, which would eventually be revealed.

Other than Harry Potter, Alan Rickman’s stand out performance to me will always be that of Alexander Dane from Galaxy Quest. The film is about the crew of an old sci-fi television show akin to Star Trek. The story examines how the show’s fandom has affected the crew in their later years, and how it has resulted in the actors being typecast, much like to the message in Birdman. Rickman’s Alexander stood out as having dorsal fins on his head, as his character in Galaxy Quest (the show within the movie) was a hyper intelligent alien akin to Spock from Star Trek. Galaxy Quest is a great film, and Rickman’s dry, British wit helps carry the film through and brings leverage to Tim Allen’s performance of an egotistical retiree.

Rickman also has played some excellent villainous roles, most famously as Hans Gruber in Die Hard. While I have not seen Die Hard myself, I have heard from various sources that Gruber is one of the best action movie villains of all time. The film in which I have seen Rickman portray a villanous is the 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, as the Sheriff of Nottingham. In Robin Hood, Rickman knows where to show enough restraint to not go overboard while still being an entity to reckon with.

Rickman has been a force of nature on screen, and his presence will surely be missed. Our thoughts are with Rickman’s family, as we keep enjoying the work he has laid out for us.