The first time I saw Alan Rickman, I hated him.
Like many young children, I saw Rickman embody Professor Severus Snape in “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” for the first time when I was eight years old. He was villainous, untrustworthy and scary. He strode along with great strides, always speaking with that slow, deep voice. But as many Harry Potter fans know, for as menacing and terrifying as Snape was, he was not to be hated. He was a misunderstood, thoughtful romantic who would never forget his love—but we didn’t know that for quite some time.
So for us Harry Potter fans, it is with great sadness that Rickman passed away last week on Jan. 14 at the age of 69.
But Rickman was more than just Snape; he was Hans Gruber in “Die Hard” (one of the greatest villains in action-movie history), he was the loathsome, conflicted Harry in “Love Actually”, the voice of God—Metatron—in “Dogma,” the Sheriff of Nottingham in “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves”—he even played Ronald Regan in “Lee Daniels’ The Butler.”
To say that Rickman has made an impact on the history of film would be an understatement.
Not only an actor, Rickman also took the helm behind such films as “The Winter Guest” and “A Little Chaos.” He also has soundtrack credits for his role in “Sweeney Todd. “
A man who did just about a little bit of everything, Rickman touched many hearts. Perhaps less so in the earlier Harry Potter films, but certainly in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” (he voiced Marvin), or the Blue Caterpillar in “Alice in Wonderland” (his final credited role will be this character in the upcoming sequel this year). For as great of a villain as he was, he never made himself maniacal—always rendering great restraint in whatever role he played—a masterclass talent in someone who wasn’t always recognized during his time.
A winner of a Golden Globe, an Emmy, and a BAFTA, his first career path was that of a graphic designer, but decided on pursuing his latent desire of becoming a professional actor—and we will always be thankful for that.
It’s funny looking back on that naive hatred of Snape—and Rickman since I was too young to really differentiate the two—because at the time I didn’t realize just how good he was. And now he is no longer with us—but I, and the rest of the world, will “always” remember just how good he really was.