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Alan Rickman: Why He’ll Always Be Remembered

Erin Graham ’19 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

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Alan Rickman

Though often seen on movie screens with a perpetual sneer and drawling voice, Alan Rickman was beloved by theatrical and cinematic audiences around the world. He passed away at age 69 due to cancer early on January 14th, inspiring laments and praises for both the roles he played and the great actor himself.

Rickman was born and raised in West London and began his career with theatrical work, soon arriving in America to star in the Broadway play Les Liaisons Dangereuses, earning him a Tony nomination. In 1988, he entered Hollywood with a bang as Hans Gruber in Die Hard, a villainous role that set the precedent for many action movie villains to come.

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Alan Rickman in Die Hard. Photo Credit: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation.

His evil antagonism soon gave way to more diverse roles, as Rickman starred in the 1995 film Sense and Sensibility. He drew laughs in light-hearted space comedies like Galaxy Quest and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and displayed a wide range of talent as Judge Turpin in the 2007 musical Sweeney Todd. Rickman’s portrayal of Harry in the 2003 romantic comedy Love Actually even made audiences fall for an unfaithful husband.

Severus Snape, though far from an unfaithful husband, was a man with greasy hair, a long nose, and a penchant for bullying the loveable hero of the Harry Potter series. What an achievement, then, that Rickman not only helped bring such a rich, beloved story to life for over ten years, but provided depth and insight to an otherwise foul character. His frowns were set deeper, his scoffs drawled longer, and audiences sighed deeper. But Rickman knew—even more than the fans—who Snape was and would later be, and the knowing gleam in Snape’s eyes throughout all eight films in the end left audiences whispering with him, “Always.”

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Alan Rickman in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2. Photo Credit: Warner Bros.

Though his IMDB page reduces his prolific talent to phrases such as “slow yet calm delivery” and “often plays depressive intellectuals,” Rickman continues to remind us that an actor’s influence can stretch much farther. “Actors are agents of change,” he once said. “A film, a piece of theater, a piece of music, or a book can make a difference. It can change the world.”

Mr. Rickman’s influence will continue to span across theatre, television, and film for many years to come.

Perhaps it will be that way, always.

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