Alan Rickman

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Alan Sidney Patrick Rickman (21 Feb 1946-14 Jan 2016) was a world-famous actor best known for creating the market of classically-trained-English-actors-to-play-master-villian-with-obligatory-sneering-accent. So influential has Rickman been that American actors have bitterly complained that casting directors only had eyes (and ears) for fruity Old Country thespians.

edit Early Days: No Beard

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Alan Rickman with the suave look that is often mistaken for closet homosexuality.

Alan Rickman travelled from his home in Fodgleworth, an idyllic hamlet in the mountains of South-East England to London reportedly through the seduction of a bargewoman along the way. It may well have been here that Rickman realized the incredible and, some might say terrible, power he held over the fairer sex.

Around the same period, Rickman became well-known in writing circles, primarily for his essay entitled "The Poor, and How To Deal With Them". This revolutionary and seminal text was well-received amongst the bourgeoisie of the time, and garnered him many accolades. It outlined some techniques such as forced migration, and, in the more extreme cases of poverty, immediate execution of the lesser members of the age in which he grew up in. His increased status brought him to the attention of many of society's greats and he was soon taken under the wing of Stephen Fry (whose own sexual antics are well-reported - perhaps what formed such a strong bond between them).

edit His Big Break: Mildly Bearded

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Perhaps this glamour shot explains why people thought Rickman was gay at the time.

Fry, possibly the greatest genius of modern times, well-known pugilist and carnal warrior, introduced Rickman to a whole new world of sex, submission and short people - and it was here that he realized the power of the beard. Surrounded by so many literary luminaries, many of them bearded, he decided to experiment with the more hirsute side of life.

His tentative attempts at beard growth yielded rich results. Not only did his "female turnover" increase dramatically, but he was recognized by talent scouts for roles in a new medium of artistic expression, the moving pictures. This resulted in his critically acclaimed performance as the villainous yet misunderstood homosexual character Hans Gruber in Die Hard (whom Rickman said was an extremely challenging role to take on).

With the success of Die Hard, came the success of Rickman (but not Bruce Willis, who tragically perished during filming), and yet his thirst for recognition was not sated. He wrote several erotic novels, competed at the 1946 Gentlemen's Olympics in Prague (winning gold in fencing, shooting and derisive laughter) and also created his own clothing line, "Rickmania".

Yet this fame was not enough for Rickman. He had a taste of the big time, and he wanted more. He wanted what Fry had (namely a 17th Century chateau filled to the brim with wine, women and croissants), and to get that he had two options; either kill his mentor, or grow a fuller beard. History shows us that it was the latter he chose.

edit Success and Excess: The Fully Bearded Rickman

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The picture used to illustrate The Times' artistic anlysis of Rickman's fullest beard.

After announcing publicly his monumental decision to fully grow a beard, Rickman disappeared from public view for several years. Some say he meditated with the Dalai Llama for a time, others retort with the fact that there were reported sightings of him, dressed as a cabin boy on a pirate ship. What we can be sure of however is that Alan Jameson Rickman returned, and what a return it was.

Eyewitnesses tell us that it was in the summer of 1964 that Rickman strolled into the esteemed Jalfrezi Gentleman's Club of South London and faced his peers with simply one of the most astonishing beards of a generation. Some experts claim it to be the greatest facial hair of modern times - The Times actually reviewed Rickman's beard as a work of art, lauding it as a masterpiece.

With his new status came ever more tempting film roles. But even the ever-surprising Rickman shocked the public by accepting a role in a new version of Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. However, his performance of the Sheriff of Nottingham was inspired - amusing, menacing and tragic in equal parts, every scene that Rickman spoke in was lit up by his drawl, and it has become a benchmark for all subsequent films. Some critics argue it will never be bettered.

Yet despite this near-godly public image that Rickman now held, he fell into his most debauched period to date. Accompanied by his cronies, Lawrence Olivier, Art Garfunkel and Tracey Emmin, he proceeded to eclipse even Stephen Fry's wild lifestyle. Tabloid speculation never ended; for every excellent fencing performance, restaurant review or acting performance he gave, he matched it with a tail of midget-baiting or drug use.

And, as with every rise, there came a fall. Rickman was photographed participating in an orgy with a circus troupe, his once mighty beard now tattered and stained - his fans turned against him, his friends turned against him. He again disappeared from the public eye, and it seemed he would not return.

edit The Beard Is Dead, Long Live Rickman: Newly Shaved

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There were allegations that despite Rickman's turnaround, he did still commit the odd bit of child abuse with boys.

It seemed the world had lost a great man, and for many years. Appart from Philosopher Michael Fassbender occassionally appearing in films, cinema suffered from an intolerable talent drought - It seemed the very fabric of British artistic expression had been torn to pieces. However, in 1987, a maverick director called Chris Columbus, working on a low-key production of an adapted children's book decided to do the unthinkable. He gave Rickman a bit-part, but on one condition - the beard had to go. Rickman tells us in his own book that "This was a difficult decision to make. The source of my recognition, my artistic merit was in that facial hair, and yet here I was being asked to trade it up for another go in the limelight. It had to happen".

And so, a new chapter in the rich tapestry that is Alan Rickman's life began. His performance in Harry Potter as a pedophile teacher who has superpowers was well-received and, whilst no Robin Hood, it signaled a return to form. Where this new road will take us has yet to be seen, and if Rickman will ever regain his past glories is debatable.

What can be said is that Alan Rickman is a legendary thespian, a gentleman through and through, a man with an excellent palette and seemingly a behemoth in England's artistic wasteland. He has crushed lesser men underfoot, and without a backwards glance gone onto even greater things. Long may it continue.

edit Death

Alan Rickman died the same week as David Bowie. They were both 69 years of age, which has lead to speculation that they were conjoined twins.

edit Trivia

  • Alan Rickman technically possesses the longest name in the world, due to the pause of 46 seconds between 'Alan' and 'Rickman'
  • When the 7th Harry Potter film is made, the scene where Snape dies will be edited to show him becoming the greatest hero the world has ever known to more accurately reflect Alan Rickman's mighty powers
  • J.K Rowling (Author of the Harry Potter books) deliberately enlarged Snape's role in the series when she realized how good Alan Rickman was at the part, adding several lines like "I think J.K Rowling is hot" and "I'm sorry, I'm just so in love with J.K Rowling"
  • Alan Rickman founded a charity (the Alan Rickman Trust Association Group Rickman Team Rickman - DinoForce) for unemployed British actors and actresses. They never put a healthy actor/actress down.
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