When it comes to actors that brought their presence in every role, there may not be a better example than Alan Rickman. Rickman made his break into Hollywood with the iconic role of the evil Hans Gruber in Die Hard (more about that below!) but that was only one of the countless characters that the talented actor help bring to life.
There was no doubt that Rickman had an incredible talent for playing a variety of characters, but it would be impossible to go very much longer without mentioning the outstanding role that Rickman played with the character of Severus Snape. Arguably the most complex character from the immensely popular Harry Potter series, Rickman not only nailed the role, but he did so in such a fashion that it seemed like there never could have been anyone else that was even considered.
It is with a heavy heart that the world lost Alan Rickman on January 14th, 2016. Rickman was 69 years old when he passed away of cancer.
Rickman leaves behind a legacy not only on the big screen. He also was much loved for both his roles in television as well as on stage. Clearly the actor, who didn’t make his big break in Hollywood until his 40s, was talented enough to make his way no matter the medium.
With a life full of iconic roles, there is no shortage of amazing things that Alan Rickman has accomplished in his life that you might not know about. Here are only 10 little tidbits from the incredible life that Rickman lived.
10. There Was Almost A Nimoy/Rickman Project
Two of the most iconic names that have unfortunately passed away in the last year are Leonard Nimoy and Alan Rickman. It may be interesting to fans that in the 1990s, there was almost a Doctor Who project that was going to star Rickman. The movie would have been directed by Nimoy, and even had a screenplay written by Denny Martin Flinn, who co-wrote the 4th Star Trek film. While the film never came to fruition, that obviously could have been an incredibly cool experience and it is interesting to think about how that role may have impacted Rickman’s life.
9. There’s A Danish Film With Him, Terry Jones and Aaron Paul
When it comes to having a career that was as established as Rickman’s, it is only natural to have a few things in there that make even your closest fans go “huh?” It was in 2000 that Rickman (and others) decided to participate in the animated Danish film Help I’m A Fish. There were Danish actors hired to replace them for the Danish versions, so if you were hoping to hear Snape drop some Danish slang I am sorry to disappoint. The movie did make $5.6 million at the box office though. So I mean that’s something. Unfortunately, I am also not sure if Aaron Paul calls any of the other fish a “bitch.”
8. He Didn’t Read The Harry Potter Books
You can blame Michael Gambon for spilling the beans. The established actor, who plays Dumbledore in 5 of the films, stated in an interview back in 2009 that neither himself, Rickman nor Ralph Fiennes have read the Harry Potter books. It’s amazing to see the acting job that Rickman does with the character, especially knowing that most of his inspiration comes from the script and only small pieces of information he picked up from talks with J.K. Rowling.
When asked the justification as to why he hadn’t read the books, Michael Gambon stated “You’d get upset about all the scenes it’s missing from the book wouldn’t you?…No point in reading the books because you’re playing with [screenwriter] Steve Klove’s words.”
7. Rickman Was A Graphic Designer
It can be easy to sit at home and say how much you wish you were an actor, even more so when you think about the pay cheques that they get to take home. When Rickman was 18 and graduating high school, he had more logical ideas for himself than to try and make it as an actor. As a result, Rickman and some of his friends opened up their own graphic design studio, entitled Graphiti. It was after 3 years in the business that Rickman decided to finally take the leap into acting, stating “Drama school wasn’t considered the sensible thing to do at 18” but decided it was now or never, so he applied (and was accepted) to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA).
6. He Had One Lover
Despite the occasional romantic role, none of the characters that Rickman portrayed could have had a love that equaled that of his real-life wife. Alan and Rima met in 1965 when Rickman was 19, and Rima was 18, and stayed together until Rickman’s death at the age of 69. It can be amazing to have one partner be so incredibly supportive throughout your life and who has seen you go through so many changes. Rickman confirmed that they officially got married in 2012 (so you know, after only a few years of knowing each other).
5. Rickman Loved The ‘Risk Factor’
There is no doubting that Rickman has his fair share of experience with directing and performing in live theater. Rickman stated that one of the biggest draws of his profession is the ability to feel like you are always taking a risk. Rickman went onto state “I like feeling a bit unsafe, and theater, of course, is deadly.” I suppose when you have gotten used to seeing a live audience your entire life, the idea of having to put on the cloak and be Snape as you chill with Harry Potter doesn’t sound quite as intimidating.
4. Rickman Intimidated Jason Mewes
For all of the amazing roles that Rickman has taken on, one of the most outside the box options has to be his involvement in Kevin Smith’s film Dogma. Rickman plays an arch angel in the film, but his involvement was a huge deal for Smith who often made films with his friends (including Mewes, who is the Jay in Jay and Silent Bob) and respected the hell out of Rickman. So much so, that Smith went up to Mewes and made sure that he knew just how serious Rickman could be. As a result, Mewes made sure he had not only his lines memorized but also the lines of every character in the film because he “didn’t want to piss off that Rickman dude.”
I don’t think I can think of any actor that would be more intimidating to have yell at me, than Alan Rickman, so that was probably a good call on Mewes’ part.
3. He Almost Turned Down Die Hard
It is amazing to think that Rickman almost turned down the role that helped him launch his movie career. When he was first offered Die Hard, back in 1987, it was only two days after he had landed in LA. Rickman admitted that he had no idea what went into making a movie, but was a huge fan of how the film portrayed African Americans.
Rickman stated “every single black character in that film is positive and highly intelligent. So, 28 years ago, that’s quite revolutionary, and quietly so.” Rickman was also not a fan of having his character dress up in full on terrorist gear, and instead suggested that the character be wearing a suit. While he was originally told “Get the hell out of here, you’ll wear what you’re told” we all know how the movie ended up looking!
2. Rickman Had Some Inside Harry Potter Knowledge
There are a bunch of reports that J.K. Rowling told Rickman the entire storyline behind Snape at the start of his acting in the films. When he was asked about it, Rickman stated that he did not get quite as much detail as people think but he did get a single hint. What was the hint? We’ll never know, but Rickman was not shy from stating
“Jo Rowling gave me one piece of information, it wasn’t even a fact – I promised I would never share it and I never will- which made me know that whatever happened, I had to drive down two roads at the same time with this character, until all the facts emerged. So I knew there was ambiguity.”
I don’t think anyone could have seen the depth or twists that come with Snape throughout the series, but there is no doubting that J.K. helped set him up for success.
1. Hans’ Death Even Faked Out Rickman
The end of Die Hard is an iconic scene with Hans Gruber falling to his death. In order to get the shot, Rickman agreed to fall 25 feet onto an airbag. It goes as you would expect “okay, you’re going to get dropped on the count of three!” only to try and get a genuine reaction from Rickman the director dropped him a full second before he was expecting it. Everyone knows that feeling of trying to brace for something, and then having it happen before you’re ready! No wonder Rickman was able to put on such a great look of genuine surprise that helps make the climax of the film all the more memorable.