Professor Snape’s Galaxy Quest: A Reflection on Alan Rickman

When David Bowie died I was silent. Shocked, but vocally I remained silent. When I read the news this of Alan Rickman’s passing, I let out an audible “no”. Granted yes this was partly due to the fact that I was (and still am) a mega Potter nerd growing up and that Rickman’s performance of Snape is among the best of the franchise, but also due to the fact that we just lost the Starman less than a week ago at the same age and from the disease. It’s deja vu all over again. Also, I love all things British, and nowhere is this more true than in British cinema and it’s very British actors.

Alan Rickman didn’t follow a career trajectory typical of most actors – though maybe some of his British contemporaries. Sure, he was classically trained at RADA and started getting known for performing Shakespeare in the late 1970s, but didn’t get his “big break” until ten years later in a role he very nearly turned down – Hans Gruber in “Die Hard”. Rickman stated that he didn’t want to make “those types of films” and he virtually didn’t after co-starring with Bruce, the Potter Franchise being the closest he came.

While it’s true that in my heart – and in millions of others – he will always be Severus Snape, unsung hero and lifesaver to Harry Potter. But there are so many other classic roles this man from Acton has played over the years. 1999 in particular was a big year as he starred in two grand comedies – Galaxy Quest and Dogma, where he had the honour of having one of the greatest names in cinematic history – Metatron. But there was also Love Actually, Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Bottle Shock, Sweeney Todd, and Alice in Wonderland. He has also portrayed several real-life people: Ronald Reagan in The Butler, and – in perhaps the most awesome thing Rickman ever did CBGB founder Hilly Kristal, opposite his Potter co-star Rupert Grint.

This is why we adore Alan Rickman. Love, actually. He’s not afraid to portray complex men, broken men, good men, bad men, rich men, poor men. Plus, he was also held in high regard as the ideal male voice (tied with Jeremy Irons) – whatever that means.

In true British style, he had deep roots in the theatre, and actually directed a number of plays – including a one-woman show – and won several awards. Sadly, he’ll never get his much-deserved Oscar nomination, which many fans were calling for during his years of playing the Dark Wizard of Potions.

On Facebook, a friend wrote that she is still not getting or understanding the collective grieving we share when a pop culture figure passes away. She opines that we don’t as a society, remember or even acknowledge 99.9% of those who die, yet the world stops when a figure like Lemmy, Bowie or Rickman reaches their end. But are we not allowed to acknowledge greatness when it comes into our lives? How do we know what greatness is or what it will be if don’t recognize those who are said to have down great things. Now granted, what she said is technically true and yes Alan Rickman didn’t change my life in any grand way, but he was a big part of why I loved going to the movies, why I still enjoy going to the cinema, of all kinds. He was a reason why I enjoyed the Harry Potter series. As a student of the theatre, he was an actor I admired for not only his versatility in roles, but his ability to be both on stage and behind the scenes.

From Hans Gruber to Snape, Alan Rickman was an actor’s actor – distinct, versatile, unique. He was personable, fiercely loyal and above all, had a“>killer voice. You will be missed my lord.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s