The Good, The Bad & The Badass: Alan Rickman

Last week, we took a look at the career of director Michael Bay, a controversial figure to be sure. This week's subject is faa dearly departed icon, whose loss is immeasurable...
Alan Rickman

What a horrible week this has been. In the space of just a few days we lost two British icons, David Bowie and Alan Rickman, both aged sixty-nine, and both dead from cancer. When it came time to sitting down and writing this week’s “The Good, The Bad & The Badass” I had an entry on David Bowie all planned and ready to go, but then Rickman’s passing threw my plans into a tailspin. I hate to pin icons against each other, but as this is primarily a film website, I ultimately decided to highlight the great Alan Rickman, with David Bowie to be revisited a little later.

What makes Rickman’s passing especially shocking is that he recently did the rounds in Toronto to promote Gavin Hood’s upcoming drone thriller, EYE IN THE SKY, where he gets a change-of-pace part as a military man grappling with his conscience when the time comes to order a drone attack on a group of terrorists. The film was rather good (read my review) and it proved, once again, how versatile he was. While famous for playing scenery-chewing villains, those parts only made up a fraction of his many screen roles, with Rickman having excelled at many different genres, including comedy, drama and especially romance, with his part in TRULY, MADLY, DEEPLY being one of his greatest.

That said, he’ll always be most famous for his bad guys, especially Hans Gruber in DIE HARD. Annual Christmas viewings of that movie will never quite be the same. At age forty two, DIE HARD put Rickman on the map in a big way and he could have – if he wanted to – coasted the rest of his career just playing bad guys. Thankfully, coasting was never Rickman’s style. You really never knew where he’d turn up next. On the one hand, he’d show show in British period movies like SENSE & SENSIBILITY, but then he’d pop-over to New Jersey to star in Kevin Smith’s DOGMA, before poking fun at his own image in GALAXY QUEST.

He was also a favorite of director Tim Burton and with his set of pipes, he never wanted for work, memorably voicing characters like Marvin the Paranoid Robot in THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY. Perhaps Rickman’s most famous, latter-day role came in the HARRY POTTER series, where he played the conflicted but ultimately heroic Professor Severus Snape, a nice subverting of his villainous image. Over thirty years in the business, Rickman was always one of the best and always unpredictable.

His Best Work

While DIE HARD will always be Alan Rickman’s most iconic role; I must admit I have a soft spot for ROBIN HOOD: PRINCE OF THIEVES. Following his parts in DIE HARD and the under seen QUIGLEY DOWN UNDER, Rickman was in the zone as far as it came to playing bad guys. His turn as The Sheriff of Nottingham was prime villainy. In fact, Rickman was so deliciously twisted as the Sheriff, director Kevin Reynolds kept shooting more material of him, to the point that the film had to be recut shortly before its release because Rickman was dominating the film over star Kevin Costner. The DVD/Blu-ray director’s cut restores much of this cut footage, and perhaps had this been included Rickman would have gotten the best supporting actor Oscar nomination he badly deserved.

His Most Underrated Film

“By Grabthar's hammer, by the suns of Warvan, you shall be avenged!” It’s a shame GALAXY QUEST isn’t recognized as the classic it actually is. Back when it came out around Christmastime 1999, most of us just thought it would be another dumb Tim Allen comedy. We were wrong of course, but none of us realized it until the DVD came out (although Ain’t It Cool News’ Harry Knowles wrote an early, wildly positive review). This is actually one of JoBlo himself’s favorite movies, and to be sure it’s a great one. A take-off on STAR TREK and its fandom (which was at its peak in the late nineties), Rickman is a kind of affectionate take off on “serious” actors Leonard Nimoy and Patrick Stewart (who’s gone on-record saying he loves this movie), with his character whining about being typecast in sci-fi. His alien makeup is great, and his catch-phrase is iconic, with him even giving it a nicely bittersweet edge when he uses it to comfort a dying alien who idolized his character as a pseudo father-figure. Rickman really put his heart into this and it’s nice to hear that Rickman often spoke of it as one of his favorite parts.

His Most Overrated Film

As much as I love Rickman, if ever he was fatally miscast it was in Lee Daniels' THE BUTLER as Ronald Reagan. Look, I get what Daniels was trying to do. He had to pack as many big names into his movie as he could to get the budget he wanted, but Rickman as Reagan? It's absolutely bizarre. While Rickman does his best with the part, wisely under-playing it, he seems uncomfortable.

His Best Scene

To me, the scene that really demonstrates Rickman’s amazing ability at playing bad guys is in DIE HARD, where he meets Bruce Willis’ John McClane face-to-face, and pretends to be a frightened yuppie named Bill Clay. The reveal when he points the gun McClane just gave him at the back of his head while speaking German is a classic, as is the rest of his exchange with Willis.

His Five Best Films



Up Next

Rickman may have passed away, but fans can at least still look forward to EYE IN THE SKY, which I reviewed at TIFF, as well has his upcoming voice-part in ALICE THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS. This week as been a real drag and losing Rickman just sucks. Rest in peace sir.

Source: JoBlo.com



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