Tribute: Alan Rickman

Posted on January 14, 2016 at 8:52 am

Copyright Alan Rickman 2000
Copyright Alan Rickman 2000

The great British actor Alan Rickman has died at age 69, a sad loss for fans throughout the world. He first came to wide attention and acclaim as the bad guy in the original Die Hard, a performance so sensational it set the standard for action movie villains ever since. I wrote about one scene in my book, 101 Must-See Movie Moments.

As Gruber, Rickman speaks with a German accent. For most of the movie, while we see Gruber, his only contact with McLane is his voice, via the walkie-talkie and intercom system.

Then the two men see each other for the first time and we expect a confrontation. But Rickman was showing off his impeccable American accent between scenes and director John McTiernan realized that this presented a great
opportunity for a twist.

McLane rushes in and sees a man who starts talking to him with a perfect American accent. He seamlessly eases straight into another accent and another persona. As the final version of the shooting script puts it, “The
transformation in his expression and bearing are mind-boggling.” Instead of the icy German barking orders, he is immediately a completely convincing terrified American, begging McLane not to shoot. We know it is Gruber, but McLane doesn’t.

Whether McLane is convinced or not is for us to discover. But at that moment, Rickman is so persuasive, even some audience members may be confused.

He was sweetly romantic as a ghost in the lovely Truly, Madly, Deeply.

He was perfectly cast in the “Harry Potter” series as Snape.

He could play a regular guy. Here he is in Love Actually.

And he could play an annoyed angel — in Dogma (strong language).

He was the devoted Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility and the highlight of Robin Hood – Prince of Thieves as another deliciously twisted bad guy. But this morning, I’m remembering another of my favorites, his distressed Shakespearean actor slumming in a sci-fi television series, Galaxy Quest.

By Grabthar’s hammer, we will miss him. May his memory be a blessing.

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