How strange it is to grieve the loss of someone you never knew personally. And yet, in a way you feel like you do know them, or part of them. For me, Alan Rickman was an actor I had followed since my childhood. I can’t remember what I saw him in first, if it was Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, or Galaxy Quest, but I know he was a familiar face for me growing up.
Harry Potter was a huge deal for me growing up. Formative influence doesn’t even begin to cover it. And it still is a huge deal for me. I have yet to fall out of love with it (as I’m finding happens with other fandoms more and more as I grow older and more bitter), and I can still kick ass when it comes to Harry Potter trivia. I am literally wearing Hufflepuff pajama pants as I type this. Thus, the Harry Potter films were also a huge deal for me. I think it was probably my first experience of watching something that I had already read and had a clear picture of in my head. I was young enough, though, for it not to bother me at all. Instead I loved it. Seeing places and characters that only before existed on a page or as an image in my head was literally the coolest thing ever. It made everything so much more REAL.
Regardless of which side of the Snape debate you are on (love him or hate him, no in between), there is no denying that Alan Rickman did one hell of a job. His portrayal of Professor Severus Snape, arguably one of the best and most complex characters in the series, was unforgettable, influential and so so well done there was a petition floating around somewhere calling for his Oscar nomination for his performance in Deathly Hallows Part 2 (he never got the Oscar nomination but he was nominated for several other awards for his performance).
And so, when I learnt of his passing a few days ago, I felt incredibly sad, more so than I expected to. It felt like the passing of a family friend.
While Snape was probably the role that started and most likely cemented my good opinion of him, many of Rickman’s other performances have also stuck with me. Galaxy Quest, a favourite of mine which will most likely get a blog post the next time I rewatch it, could have been a disaster of a movie, if not for Rickman’s comedic talent. The dry sarcasm matched with that amazing/ridiculous prosthetics made Alexander Dane the best character in film, by far. I am also an absolute sucker for period drama film adaptations of classic Victorian era novels, so his portrayal of Colonel Brandon in the 1995 version of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility deserves a mention here. He made me like Brandon more than Austen herself and subsequent film adaptations since combined.
I never met Alan Rickman but I am so sorry we have lost him – a wonderful actor and an even lovelier man.