In yet another devastating cultural blow to fall this week, esteemed British actor Alan Rickman has passed away at the age of 69.
Known for his sardonic countenance and unique diction – the slightly nasal drawl that made him so beloved of impressionists – Rickman hit the big time in 1988 with his portrayal of impeccably mannered Teutonic baddie Hans Gruber in Die Hard. While his BAFTA-winning turn as the snarling, film-stealing Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves cemented his casting as an archetypal baddie, Rickman was also capable of great warmth and subtlety. Here are eight roles that show off that diversity.
Kevin Smith’s controversial take on all things Judeo-Christian featured Alan Rickman as, who else but, Metatron, the Voice of God. Rickman’s performance as the peevish Archangel is a comedy masterclass.
7. Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Tim Burton’s suitably Gothic taste on Sondheim’s music gave Rickman a chance to bring a new component to his usual villainy: song! His turn as venal, world-weary lawman Judge Turpin is everything you hope it might be.
6. Michael Collins
This 1996 historical biopic is known for being one of Liam Neeson’s best roles, but this film also homes in one of Rickman’s most fantastic roles as the volatile, politically treacherous Éamon de Valera.
5. Galaxy Quest
“By Grabthar’s hammer!” Rickman’s performance as resentful Shakespearean actor Alexander Dane forced to slum it as Dr. Lazarus in Star Trek parody Galaxy Quest is the stuff that cult hits are made of.
4. Love Actually
This is a strange one for Alan: we see him being an amazing boss, a funny guy – in his usual deadpan way – but also a potential cheat who made Emma Thompson cry. That we’re conflicted doesn’t make this one any less great.
3. Sense & Sensibility
Again, starring alongside Emma Thompson, this award-winning period drama based sees Rickman at his most upbeat in his role as older suitor Colonel Brandon, one-third of Austen’s love triangle.
2. Truly, Madly, Deeply
Not too long after he was Gruber, Rickman costarred alongside Juliet Stevenson in a film about a spectral boyfriend helping his ex to move on. Roger Ebert called it “Ghost for grownups” – sounds about right.
1. Harry Potter
Okay, predictable, but Alan Rickman was Severus Snape. Suitably loathsome as the oily potions master, only an actor of Rickman’s character could sell the heartbreaking reveal of Snape’s true motives in his treatment of our hero.
And lest we forget…