I woke up to the news that Alan Rickman was dead. Ian had messaged me as I slept, and it was a shock when I looked at my social media and saw the dozens of well-wishes and condolences. Immediately, I went into denial. No, Alan Rickman was not dead–how could he be? How could my one true love* be dead? I read link after link, but it still seemed surreal. He had been fighting cancer–fuck cancer, by the way–and today, he lost that fight. Once I accepted it was true (on the surface, I don’t think I’ve fully accepted it yet), I cried. Full-on cried. I have had a crush on Alan Rickman for such a long time, and even though I knew he was older than I by twenty-five years, I had hoped that he’d be with us for many years to come.
I am not one to crush out on celebrities. Don’t get me wrong. I think there are hot actors such as Kate Winslet, Gina Torres, Helen Mirren, Ewan McGregor, Daniel Dae Lewis, and Idris Elba to name a few. I’ve drooled over Christina Hendricks and Salma Hayek and Michael Fassbender, not to mention (please, I’d really prefer you didn’t) all those carefully-tressed hair metal bands of the eighties. But, I’ve never cared much about them in real life, not to be rude about it. I’d read about them and be interested in what they have to say, but mostly, I just enjoyed looking at them and watching them/listening to them do their thing. Alan Rickman was different, for whatever reason. The first thing I really noticed him in was Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (though I was first attracted to Jason Isaacs, as you can see in this review. Please also note that even that early, I was pretty sure Snape was a good guy, and, yes, I’m tooting my own horn), even though I’d seen him before–including in the first Potter movie. He’s not typically handsome, and appreciating him takes time. There’s something about viewing the movie more than once, especially the scene in which he’s spelling that ponce played by Kenneth Branagh, that made me hot for him. It’s weird because he had that goofy wig on, but something about the voice and the masterful way he wielded his wand made me instantly smitten with him. Just below is a video with all his scenes from the movie, which is the way I watch a lot of his movies, tbh. He’s been in many shitty movies, but he’s always tackled each role with gusto and verve.
I can’t tell you how many times in a row I watched the spelling scene. His diction. The look in his eyes as Draco seeks approval from him. The disdain he has for old whassis name, dripping from every word. He really didn’t have to say much in order for you to know exactly what he was thinking. His movements were so definitive, and his facial expressions, crystal-clear. He was the purported baddie of the series along with Voldemort, and yet, I always knew there was more to Snape than what met the eye, especially by the way Alan portrayed him.
Over the next few years, I watched most of his works–all of which I could get legally. Because he wasn’t that well-known until that point, despite his brilliant turn as Hans Gruber** in Die Hard, some of his over-the-seas work were not available in America–this was in the days before YouTube made it possible to watch almost anything online. Alan Rickman was in a lot of shitty movies, but he was always the best thing about them. I got the feeling that he took roles that interested him or that made it possible for him to eat, despite the merit of the film in whole. I reviewed some of these movies when I watched them, including January Man and Close Your Eyes (two reviews, one for before you see the movie and one for after). I reviewed other movies he’s been in, which you can find here.
I became somewhat obsessed with Alan, writing about him several times. I even have a category just for him on this here blog.He’s the desktop image on both of my computers, and I trawled YouTube to find different clips of him. It reached the point where I wrote a post called Stalking Alan several years ago (spoiler alert: I would never stalk anyone), which was silly and a bit of fluff, but also spoke to an underlying truth–I was uncomfortable with my celebrity crush, but I knew I wasn’t going to go overboard with it. I can’t tell you how weird it is for me to have a celebrity crush. It’s just not my thing–but Alan is not your typical celebrity. He’s not just a pretty face–indeed, he’s not a pretty face at all. He’s not Brad Pitt or Thor*** or Idris Elba–it’s more in his attitude (and that voice! Oh, that voice) than simply his physical appearance. Don’t get me wrong. I find his craggy looks, his wry smile, and the twinkle in his world-weary eyes, not to mention his silvery hair, to be wildly attractive, but I can acknowledge that he’s not Hollywood handsome. Thank god.
I was surprised to find out that other women felt the same way I did about Alan Rickman. I think he’s underrated as an actor, and despite his Harry Potter fame, he seems to have flown under the radar. However, if you profess your desire for Alan, shamefully or not, you’re guaranteed to hear from others who feel the same way. @NedRaggett on the Twitter Machine sent me this post by a woman who had the same feelings for Alan as did I. I’d like to note that I already wrote the title to my piece before I saw hers. It’s the title from one of his early movies, a comedy-drama in which he plays the ghost of the dead lover of a bereaved woman who can’t let him go. I did two reviews of the movie, the before you see it review and the after you see it one. Anyway, I agree with her that most of Alan’s charm is that he’s not just your typical Hollywood movie star. I would add that him being British is an added bonus. That accent….In addition, he was well-spoken in his interviews, and it’s clear that he thought about things other than just his acting. He was very firmly pro-Labour, against injustices of any kind, but he didn’t like talking about his passions because he wanted people to see the role he was playing, not him himself.
After his passing, his friends, many of them whom are actors, expressed their shock, sorrow, and their remembrances of him as their friend and someone they worked with/for. To a person, they mentioned that he was the type of friend who would always answer your call within a day and that he always saw them in their performances, despite his own busy life. Daniel Radcliffe, you may know him better as Harry Potter, had nothing but kind words to say upon hearing of Alan’s death, and Emma Thompson, whom I consider his perfect onscreen wife, wrote a lovely tribute to him, starting with this, “Alan was my friend and so this is hard to write because I have just kissed him goodbye.” On his Facebook page, Ian McKellen talked about how Alan felt it wasn’t right that the Russian crew were being treated poorly on the set of Rasputin and protested. Alan also stood up for McKellen when he (Alan) felt the director was being too hard on him (McKellen). From Karen Ell on Facebook, I learned that Sean Biggerstaff (one of the Gryffindor kids in the HP series) gave this moving tribute to Alan. From The Guardian, the last thing he recorded was a video in hopes of raising money for refugees and children. So often, after a celebrity dies, you find out a lot of negative things you wished you hadn’t known. That doesn’t seem to be the case with Alan Rickman, for which I’m grateful.
In addition, he’s been with his girlfriend since he was nineteen and he was eighteen, and they didn’t get married until 2012. He was highly protective of her and their life together, and he rarely mentioned her in interviews. She had a full life of her own, and he seemed rightly proud of all she’s accomplished. The fact that he was with her for half a century only added to his appeal. See, part of the grief, no, much of the grief is about losing an ideal, a man whom any straight/bi woman would want as a boyfriend. I didn’t know him as a person, of course, and I’m sure I imbued him with things I wanted in a partner. It was easy, really, as I didn’t have to deal with his snoring or leaving the toilet seat up or forgetting I wanted a turkey wrap and not a ham one. I didn’t have to live with him on a daily basis, which would have surely taken the luster off the rose. Because I only knew him from the movies and from what he presented to the media–which he controlled with a tight fist, might I add. He’s given the same answer word-for-word to similar questions in different interviews, all the while making it seem as if he’s speaking off the top of his head–I could make him into the perfect partner–which I did.He was everything I wanted–erudite, had perfect diction, suave, philosophical, thoughtful, and most importantly, absent. Alan Rickman could never disappoint me, and despite all his shitty movies, he never did.
I have to admit that I did laugh in the midst of crying because of all the people who said I was the first thing they thought of when they heard/read the news. It was really sweet, and I was overwhelmed by the well wishes, but I had often joked that my ultimate plan was to make sure that my name and Alan Rickman’s were inextricably entwined, and it seems as if I’ve accomplished my goal. It was stunning–both the news and how it hit me. It’s not the same as if someone close to me in real life had died–knock on wood–or, god, forgive, one of my cats, but it was grief, nonetheless. I was sad when Bowie died, surprisingly so, because I’m not a huge fan,**** but that’s nothing compared to how I feel upon learning of Alan Rickman’s death. To make matters worse, me and my bestie, Kat, were joking about him last night in relations to me winning the Powerball. I said if I won, I was going to buy a night with Alan Rickman. She said I could use the money for cloning purposes. We had a hearty laugh, but we both felt somewhat guilty about it today. It seems in poor taste given what we know now. However, it’s very much in keeping with my attitude towards Alan when he was alive. Part of my obsession with him was making outrageous suggestions as to what I’d do with him if I were given the chance. It was part of the shtick, and it was a lot of fun to perform. It’s weird that I mentioned Alan Rickman last night as it’s not as if I talk about him all the time, but it’s not out of character for me to be ribald about it. I was never going to meet the man, so why not indulge in some harmless fantasizing? It’s not as if he would ever know or care about it, nor as if I were the only one–far from it.
I wrote a screenplay with Alan Rickman in the leading man’s role. I’ve added him to several novels in one form or another. I’ve watched his movies when coping with a breakup–not a good idea, by the way. The British have a different idea of what a comedy is, meaning, it usually has a healthy dose of tragedy as well–and I’ve been known to have an Alan Rickman marathon in which I’ll fast-forward through any scene in which he’s not in. Really, he’s the reason I’ve seen three-fourths of the movies he’s been in, the Potters included, so it makes sense that I’ll skip the rest of the movies, especially Robin Hood. He was the only reason to watch that trash, and my favorite part is when he’s talking to wenches and says to one, “You! My room. 10:30 tonight.” Then, he turns to another and says, “You. 10:45…and bring a friend!” Later, I found out from one of his interviews that he added those lines at the suggestion of his friends, which makes sense. In addition, I’ve watched the third video I posted a couple dozen times and wished I was the lead singer dancing sexily with Alan at the petrol station at midnight. Last year, nearly a year ago, fifteen years after that video, they did another video that actually has him speaking and singing in it with that inimitable voice of his. I like the first song (and video) better, but the second can’t be beat because of his vocal presence.
It’s nine hours after I first heard the news. It’s still surreal, but it’s slowly starting to sink in. I’ve been lax in my viewing of Alan Rickman movies in the past few years, in part because I thought, “Oh, I have time. There will always be more.” Well, I can still watch them, but after the release of the last things he acted in, there will be no more Alan Rickman. Ever. I hate the end of things, and I hate this more than anything in a long time. All day long, I’ve been watching all things Alan, and I’ll probably do it into the wee hours of the morning. I’m very grateful that he’s left such a formidable work behind, and it should keep me occupied for months to come, but my world is a little bleaker because he’s gone.
*Said with tongue-in-cheek, but not far from wrong.
**Who is still alive, thank you very much. I refuse to believe that a buffoon like John McClane could ever kill a brilliant mastermind such as Hans Gruber.
****I’ve found out things since then that have made me like Bowie, the person, even less.