I’d love to be able to point to the exact moment Alan Rickman became my favorite actor, but there isn’t one. I loved him as the formidable Hans Gruber in Die Hard when I was in my teens and over time the more I saw him the more impressed I became until he was at the top of the list without me consciously realizing it.
He’s best known as Serverus Snape from the Harry Potter movies (and was excellent in them), but it was earlier and smaller movies of his that made the biggest impact on me, often because of his incredible comedic ability. From the dry wit of Metatron in Dogma to the life-worn, frustrated Spock analogue in Galaxy Quest to a wonderfully subdued portrayal of Stephen Spurrier in Bottle Shock Rickman always brought the perfect balance to his characters and made them feel real while making the audience laugh.
My personal favorite memory of Rickman is being lucky enough to see him live on broadway in Seminar, a fantastic play about a somewhat washed up author teaching a group of wannabe writers a thing or ten. It was an engaging play that provided intriguing characters while giving little glimpses into the process of writing commercially. The entire cast was excellent, but of course Rickman was the centerpiece and he was mesmerizing as expected. It’s a special treat to see great actors perform live, and that performance is one I’ll never forget.
Rest in Peace Alan. We’ll miss you.