Truly, Madly, Deeply: Remembering Alan Rickman In Six Movie Scenes

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.

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)

Every great actor has a great slice of ham inside of him, stewing, marinating, waiting to be unleashed on screen and feasted upon with great relish. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is a very silly movie that is often unaware of its silliness... but Alan Rickman knows exactly what kind of movie he's in. His Sheriff of Nottingham is about as over-the-top as you can get, a stunning example of raw, unbridled theatricality that starts at eleven before finding new ways to bash its head against the ceiling. Rickman is obviously having a ball (look closely to find the toothmarks on the sets) and we can't help but have fun along with him. This is the kind of acting that transcends good and bad, entering the special realm of Weird. No one told Rickman to tone it down and the results are marvelous.

Sense and Sensibility (1995)

Even if you didn't always notice it, Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson made for one of the most quietly satisfying film partnerships of recent years. Good friends offscreen, Rickman and Thompson appeared in seven movies together: Judas Kiss, The Winter Guest, Sense and Sensibility, Love Actually, and three Harry Potter movies. For our purposes here, let's turn to director Ang Lee's adaptation of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, which saw Rickman playing Colonel Brandon and Thompson playing Elinor Dashwood (she also won an Oscar for her screenplay). Brandon is the kind of character who could be a stick in the mud, but Rickman perfectly embodies his honor and quiet dignity. Austen fans have long debated Brandon's worthiness as a love interest, but in Rickman's hands, he is nothing short of totally and completely appealing. If you feel like wiping away tears for a few minutes, make sure you read Thompson's remembrance of Rickman.

Galaxy Quest (1999)

Galaxy Quest is a film of seemingly infinite pleasures. Simultaneously parodying Star Trek and science fiction fandom while also being a thrilling adventure where the stakes actually matter is a tough balance, but the film pulls it off. Rickman's performance as Alexander Dane is the perfect encapsulation of this high-wire act – his journey finds him transitioning from a comedic character into a hero, transforming an intentionally ridiculous catchphrase into something of profound pathos during the climax. As a bitter actor who finds himself swept up into an interstellar war, Rickman is dryly hilarious, spitting out sarcasm and barely contained rage like nobody's business. But he gives this character immortal greatness when he cradles the body of a dying friend and realizes that his silly character and his stupid TV catchphrase actually means something to countless people. By Grabthar's Hammer, what a performance!

The Harry Potter Series (2001-2011)

Over the course of ten years, Alan Rickman played Severus Snape in all eight Harry Potter movies and it's literally impossible to imagine anyone else in the part. When we first meet the icy professor of potions at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, he feels like a simple villain, a nasty piece of work who exists as an ongoing obstacle to Harry's success. And Rickman plays the part with with grim humor, making Snape the exact kind of bad guy you love to hate. Then, over the course of the series, this facade begins to fall. As we learn more about Snape, Rickman begins to bare his soul, to reveal the pain and anguish that fuel this guy. This series may have begun as a straightforward tale of good and evil, but it quietly morphed into a story of how evil hides in plain sight and how goodness exists where you least suspect it. No one embodies this more than Snape, one of the most complicated heroes and most tragic villains in recent memory. This scene, from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, showcases the agony of Snape and the honesty Rickman brought to a part that could have been ridiculous.