remembering alan rickman

We never gave Alan Rickman enough credit.

When he passed away yesterday at the age of 69, you could feel the tremors throughout all of film fandom. Wave upon wave of memories emerged: nuanced characters, brilliant performances, and an incalculable number of quotable lines. Rickman’s unique presence and one-of-a-kind voice imprinted itself on countless movies. Like so many great actors, especially those so skilled at providing their skills just off-center from the movie stars at the center of their films, we took him for granted.

With the passing of Alan Rickman, we have lost a quiet titan. However, the beauty of cinema is that he can live on forever in his work. His performances will never fade away. We will never stop watching him. Future generations will always discover him. Rickman, a master of raw humanism, chilling viciousness, and droll comedy alike, will be remembered.

So let’s start now.

Die Hard (1988)

It is almost impossible to believe that Hans Gruber was Alan Rickman’s first movie role. That director John McTiernan and his team chose to cast a mostly unknown stage actor in this role is just one of those miraculous decisions. The stars simply aligned. Die Hard is a perfect movie and Gruber a perfect movie villain, played with sleazy gusto by an actor who somehow makes this casual murderer likable. Rickman finds an uncommon balance here – Gruber is ruthless and efficient enough to be feared, but frazzled enough by John McClane’s one-man war on his villainous operation that he becomes genuinely hilarious. His final scene, where he falls to his death from Nakatomi Tower in glorious slow motion, is an all-timer. One of the best movie bad guys of all time deserves one of the great movie deaths and Rickman’s face, flabbergasted, unable to believe that he lost to this cowboy, says everything.

Truly, Madly, Deeply (1990)

For better and worse, Alan Rickman’s Die Hard debut lead to a career filled with villainous and flamboyant roles. But we cannot forget that he was also a master of the mundane and the human. Anthony Minghella‘s Truly, Madly, Deeply finds Rickman at his most vulnerable and his sweetest. This comedic drama may be cloaked in fantasy (Rickman plays a ghost who returns from beyond the grave to help his girlfriend learn to let go), but Rickman couldn’t be more naturalistic and chemistry with Juliet Stevenson couldn’t be more sincere. This scene, where Rickman plucks away at his cello and sings while Stevenson dances is remarkable because it feels like you’re peeking into an actual relationship. This isn’t Movie Romance – this plays like two people who are actually in love. And let’s face it: Rickman is a total dreamboat here.

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