When I read the news about Alan Rickman’s passing yesterday, my initial reaction was to channel Howard Beale, open the window and shout, “I’m mad as hell and not going to take it any more!” First David Bowie and now Alan Rickman. In just a few short days, Planet Earth lost two incredibly talented and gifted artists in one short week.
There’s not much that can be said that hasn’t already been so eloquently noted about the British born actor who leaves behind a legacy of unforgettable performances. About the only thing I can think of to say that hasn’t been said already by the countless number of colleagues and individuals who are paying tribute to the brilliance that was Alan Rickman is that I would have happily paid good money to simply hear him read the phone book or the shipping forecasts, for that matter.
There are only a few individuals that possessed the ability go toe to toe with Bruce Willis in Die Hard one minute (for which he was named the 46th best villain on the AFI Top 100 Heroes and Villains list), steal a scene from Kevin Costner with an over-the-top performance as the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves in another, and then come to be known to an entire generation as the complex, coldly sarcastic, half-blood wizard, Severus Snape, in the Harry Potter franchise. These roles are just the tip of the iceberg in a long and storied career where Rickman went from the Royal Shakespeare Company, to a romantic lead in Sense and Sensibility, to a more comedic role in Galaxy Quest and a role in what is widely considered to be the most-watched romantic movie at Christmas time, Love Actually, as Emma Thompson’s foolish, foolish husband.
Proving my point as to why paying to listen to him read the phone book would be money well spent, Rickman was also the voice of God in Dogma with Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, the voice of the painfully depressed Marvin the Paranoid Android in the film version of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and the voice of King Philip in King of the Hill. We’re talking supreme versatility here!
Rickman appeared last year on BBC Radio 5 to talk with Edith Bowman and James King about his newest film, A Little Chaos, starring Kate Winslet, Rupert Penry-Jones, Stanley Tucci and Helen McCrory, which was his second film as a director that he also co-wrote and starred as King Louis XIV. Aside from this being a combination of priceless insight into the brilliance that is Alan Rickman, it should be considered radio gold, especially about 15 minutes in, when Bowman playfully ‘took him to task’ for, what might have been perceived by listeners, as having a ‘potty mouth’. The conversation began with Rickman being asked by a listener whether his style of directing had changed since his first directorial effort in The Winter Guest in 1997.
FYI, Mr. Rickman, you could have read the phone book or shipping forecast to me anytime with or without your ‘potty mouth’. R.I.P. Alan Rickman.