(Original image source: Matt Brown on Flickr)
Fans of Alan Rickman left flowers, notes, and pictures of Alan Rickman at King’s Cross Station (home of Platform 9 ¾ from the Harry Potter series) following his death.
I’m sure many college students can relate when I say Harry Potter was a huge part of my life growing up. In my freshman year of high school, I went through an Alan Rickman phase after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 came out in July 2011. It was a way to cope with the Harry Potter world ending (this was long before Fantastic Beasts was announced) as well as the pain of seeing Rickman’s character Snape die. Snape and Alan Rickman are thus permanently woven into the fabric of my childhood. It was easy to think of Rickman as immortal, just as the films themselves, so his death came as an unexpected blow.
While celebs who knew Rickman are able to look back on fond memories, fans can re-watch their favorite films featuring Rickman and remember him in that way. In addition to his more famous films, Rickman has an extensive list of credits on IMDb, which may be difficult to pare down. Of the 69 acting credits Rickman has on IMDb, I can attest to 26. Here are my choices for his most memorable films:
The Beginning: Die Hard (1988)
Die Hard is easily one of the best action films of all time, and the film which launched Alan Rickman’s career. His role as the villainous Hans Gruber established him as both an excellent actor and perfect for playing antagonists. If you had to choose one film to see for the first time from this list, Die Hard is my top pick. Side note: because many regard Die Hard as not only an action film but also a Christmas film, I chose to include it over Love Actually.
The Critically Acclaimed: Sense and Sensibility (1995)
Sense and Sensibility is based on the Jane Austen novel of the same name and has the highest Rotten Tomatoes rating (98% critic approval) of any of Alan Rickman’s films. Rarely did Rickman portray a protagonist, albeit a romantic lead. While it may be jarring at first to see Rickman playing such a likable and charming character as Colonel Brandon, by the end you will lament the fact that he wasn’t cast in more sympathetic roles.
The Obscure: Dark Harbor (1998)
You would be hard-pressed to find someone who has seen Dark Harbor. It is notable for having only three characters: a husband (played by Rickman) and wife, and an injured man they find by the side of the road. Rickman had mastered minimalist acting, which he tended to use when playing anti-heroes and characters whose motives are ambiguous. So as not to have the ending of Dark Harbor spoiled, don’t look up a detailed plot summary but let the mystery and suspense carry you through.
The Comedy: Galaxy Quest (1999)
Galaxy Quest is the first of two comedies on this list, and the first of two sci-fi comedies Rickman would act in (the second is The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy). Rickman plays Dr. Lazarus, a disgruntled actor who has been typecast for a stoic character he played in a nerdy series (the irony came later in his life). Fans of Star Trek will enjoy the part parody of, part homage to the series.
The Cult Classic: Dogma (1999)
Relative to the other films on this list, Rickman’s role is small. However, those who have seen Dogma will immediately recall Rickman’s role as the angel Metatron and the film’s interpretation of angel anatomy (watch the film to see what I mean). Rickman’s comedic characters, including Metatron, often rely on sarcasm and dark humor; Dogma is crude in a good way, demonstrating Rickman’s comedic potential.
The Tear-jerker: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)
Most young fans of Rickman remember him as Professor Snape. While Rickman was nearly 30 years older than the character he portrayed, it is hard to imagine any other actor playing Snape; his scaled-back approach to Snape’s emotions and dramatic prowess in Snape’s final moments will be etched into fans’ memories for decades. If you would like a quick way to see Rickman’s most memorable scenes as Severus Snape from the Harry Potter films, check out this video I made.
Gather your fellow Alan Rickman fans or curl up in bed and use this list to pick out one (or more!) of his films. Be sure to keep a box of tissues nearby, just in case. Also, if you’re a Rickman buff and have seen all of these films, here are some additional recommendations: Nobel Son (2007), The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005), Blow Dry (2001), and Truly Madly Deeply (1991).