Following the tragic news that Alan Rickman has passed away at the age of 69, we bring you a list of definitive films that helped to define his awe-inspiring career:
Die Hard (1988)
Scaling the Nakatomi Plaza on Christmas Eve was not what hot-headed cop John McClane (Bruce Willis) had planned, but this is exactly what he does in order to save his estranged wife and her co-workers from the clutches of mastermind Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman).
We know that Gruber is one of the most quintessential bad guys of Hollywood cinema, but is he really that bad? If you overlook the mild terrorist attitudes and the hostage situation, Gruber brings a romantic spark back to McClane and his wife, allowing the Die Hard franchise to carry into the digital age.
With a menacing demeanour and sinister German accent, Rickman is a force to be reckoned with in this Christmas action classic. As his mind always works towards the next step of his master plan of stealing $640 million, he remains to be the toughest counterpart for McClane in the entire Die Hard series. Gruber never shows an aggressive side, but perceives himself to merely be a man with a plan who isn’t afraid of doing what he wants in life.
Sense and Sensibility (1995)
Sense and Sensibility was the beginning of a flourishing collaboration between Alan Rickman and Emma Thompson. Rickman would go on to cast Thompson in The Winter Guest (1997) – his directorial debut – and later star alongside her in Love Actually (2003). Starring in a small but memorable role, Rickman plays Colonel Brandon, a gentle and warm nobleman who falls for the youthful Marianne (Kate Winslet). However, Colonel Brandon’s hopes are soon dashed as Marianne falls for the wicked Willoughby (Greg Wise). Unlike his other performances, Rickman possesses an incredible sweet nature here, motivating us to firmly hope that Marianne ditches the dastardly Willoughby in favour of Colonel Brandon’s marriage proposal.
Written and directed by Kevin Smith, Dogma is the story of an abortion clinic worker sent on a holy crusade to New Jersey. Here, she must stop two former angels from re-entering heaven. The film saw Rickman take the role of Metatron, the angel sent to be the voice of God.
“Any documented occasion when some Yahoo claims that God has spoken to them, they’re speaking to me. Or talking to themselves.”
Rickman’s sarcastic angel was one of the funniest roles in the film, despite only having limited time on screen. This human side to the voice of God was exceptionally portrayed through his performance and made the film significantly stronger.
Galaxy Quest (1999)
In this 90s comedic space-romp, Alan Rickman stars alongside Tim Allen and Sigourney Weaver as an actor from Galaxy Quest, a TV show inspired by Star Trek. Mistaking the cast as their characters at a convention, an alien race soon turns Galaxy Quest into something far from fictitious. Much like Spock in Star Trek, Rickman’s Dr Lazarus is an intellectual humanoid alien. Being second to Commander Taggert (Tim Allen), the narrative finds the actors getting into various comedic squabbles.
Alexander Dane – the actor who plays Dr Lazarus – has grown tired of his stardom. From the onset, he shows hostility towards his fans. Throughout the film, we see his disdain for everything Galaxy Quest but then he is forced to board the real NSEA-Protector. At first he remains cynical, but as the drama intensifies, he becomes a heroic figure.
Galaxy Quest has accumulated a cult gathering of sci-fi fans, many of whom consider themselves to be Trekkies. The film was nominated for 10 Saturn awards, one of which to Rickman for Best Supporting Actor. A perfect love letter to sci-fi and with Rickman’s iconic performance, for the rumoured sequel to be made now would be a great mistake.
Love Actually (2003)
The holiday season encourages romance and good will to all (wo)mankind; partially the exact point of Love Actually. The film has a plethora of sub-narratives, showcasing different elements of love and occasional turmoil. Full of iconic British talent, one tale focuses on Harry (Rickman) and Karen (Emma Thompson).
Their story begins comfortably married and raising children. However, when Harry is tempted by another woman, he starts making mistakes and spending money “unwisely”, breaking Karen’s heart at Christmas. With Harry in the wrong, Rickman’s portrayal really captures his regret, forcing your heart to warm to him, and wanting Karen to reconcile. Their tale highlights the importance of trust and loyalty, and the consequences of when they are breached in a relationship.
Though the tale was left somewhat open, their change in dynamic is evident in the conclusion. Last year, the true outcome of Harry and Karen’s story was revealed, causing quite a commotion on social media. Rickman and Thompson’s characters and their story are arguably the most memorable and moving attribute to Love Actually, causing innovation of the generic rom-com tropes.
What are your personal highlights of Alan Rickman’s career?
Comment with your thoughts.
– Anna Richards Sense and Sensibility
– Brian Smith Dogma
– Letitia Lemon Galaxy Quest and Love Actually
– Ryan Keen Die Hard