Alan Rickman: More than just a potions master

We take a look back at some of Alan Rickman in his most memorable roles in film

Alan Rickman was already a veteran in film, TV, and the stage before he even became the most complex character in the Harry Potter films.  Of course he’ll always be fondly and passionately remembered as Professor Severus Snape, the bitter and loathsome potions master.  However, we wanted to show our true appreciation for not just his role in that magical franchise, but some of our other favorite and memorable roles that he brought to life.

Die Hard

Argh… Was there ever a more wonderfully badass villain than Hans Gruber? Alan Rickman’s first performance in a feature film was almost unthinkable at the time– a keen bad guy who actually kills people to get his way. There’s a reason why his showdown with John McClane, portrayed by Bruce Willis, is iconic to this day. Hans Gruber was a hugely satisfying villain who brought the action and the tension, teaching audiences was a real antagonist should be like. – Kait

The first movie I’d seen Alan Rickman in. The fact that his role as Hans in this movie is still memorable, even over Bruce Willis’ John McClain lines, is a testament to his talent from the beginning of his career and throughout the years since. – Nat

Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

Extraordinary performance. One of the very few cases where the villain dramatically outshines the hero. That really says something about Rickman’s screen presence. – Adam

I still remember his line, “I will cut your heart out with a spoon” and “because it’s dull, you twit. It’ll hurt more” lines. They always make me laugh. He’s the only character that really is worth remembering, and that’s saying something since I did like the movie. But his over-the-top acting as the villainous Sheriff of Nottingham is as enjoyable and entertaining now as anything he’s done since then. – Nat

Sense & Sensibility (Colonel Brandon)

Seeing Sense and Sensibility was my first foray into Jane Austen (I had never read an Austen book, nor seen another film), and I remember being so incredibly struck by the richness of Rickman’s portrayal. Colonel Brandon is not an easy character to play — a warm-hearted, soulful, deeply agonized man who has almost given up on finding happiness but allows a few glimmers of light to seep into his brooding. We saw many of those same traits personified in Severus Snape later on. I became a huge Alan Rickman fan that day, and there has NEVER been a performance since where I didn’t like him. Today, I find myself specifically thinking of Rickman at the end, looking on as one of the score titles plays: “Weep You No More, Sad Fountains,” and I’d like to think he would say that to the many people who touched, who feel such a sense of loss. – Adam

Everyone should watch him in Sense and Sensibility if only for the joy of seeing (SPOILERS) Snape marrying Jeanine Matthews (Divergent) whose sister is Professor Trelawney. – Stephanie

What’s really interesting about Alan’s role in this movie is that I had only seen him as a villain before this one. But what’s so wonderful about Rickman is his ability to really own the roles he takes on. I was able to forget him as Hans Gruber from Die Hard or the Sheriff of Nottingham from Robin Hood, and really see him and love him as Colonel Brandon. – Nat

Galaxy Quest (Alexander Dane)

Simultaneously ribbing at Trekkies and uptight actors, Alan was brilliant as Alexander Dane. The classically trained actor wanted to be taken more seriously than his sci-fi roots allowed, which was a get recipe for self-deprecating humor that make audiences roar on top of the nerdy action. Alan delivered loads of classic lines, supplied humor in droves, and gave a nod to fandom even before becoming a major figure in one of the world’s most vibrant. – Kait

Right from the beginning of the movie, Rickman steals the show, and he does so without ever taking off his headpiece that makes him the good-side alien on the Star Trek-like series his character has come to despise. Rickman portrays the type of actor who resents his popularity and it he does it with amazingly realistic hilarity you actually might think he really is like that.  – Nat

Love Actually (Harry)

This was a guy you were supposed to hate, but it was so hard when being played by a guy you like so much! I think I always sympathized with his character, simply because he was Alan Rickman. – Adam

Harry was a pretty despicable character among a group of mostly likable characters in Love Actually, but the performance humanized it all. Facial expressions and minute hesitations expose Harry’s confusion and vulnerability alongside his selfishness and poor decisions. Instead of meeting your typical lying, cheating stereotype, we meet a man who takes his life for granted and pays the price. While heartbreaking, the story is a poignant dose of reality worth watching thanks in part to this beautiful performance! – Kait

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber from Fleet Street (Judge Turpin)

Another terrific turn for Rickman, who shows off tremendous range as a singer. My favorite sequence is his lyric speak/sing combination in the Ladies in Their Sensitivities sequence. – Adam

If there’s one character that you just have to hate because Rickman played him so evilly, it’s this guy. That was the goal and it was achieved. And honestly, I think he outsang Mr. Depp in their scene together. – Nat

Harry Potter (Professor Severus Snape)

What is there even to say? This was, of course, my favorite Rickman role, and it will hurt a little every time Snape appears during a re-watch. And I’ll always think of him whenever I turn to page 394 in any book. RIP you legend of the stage and screen. – Adam

Alan Rickman has left a lasting impression on the fandom community through his portrail of Severus Snape. Snape is a unique character who is still able to divide fans to this day. What cannot be denied, however, is the acting chops of the man who brought him to life. – Stephanie

I don’t know if there’s much else to say about Rickman as Snape that hasn’t already been said. But I’ll say this: the Harry Potter franchise needed Alan Rickman more than Alan Rickman needed the Harry Potter franchise. – Nat

Other notables

The Barchester Chronicles (Obadiah Slope) – If you have ever imagined Snape as a clergyman in England in the 19th century then this is the TV mini-series for you. Rickman is so slimy that you can imagine him channeling Slope in his portrayal of Severus. – Stephanie

Dogma (Metatron) – There was nothing quite as snarky and sharp-witted and perfect as Alan as Metatron, the voice of God come to Earth to help a woman defeat two rebel angels. The character allowed the actor to brilliantly explore tongue-in-cheek comedy. Not all actors can pull off a character scripted by Kevin Smith and come out looking better for it, but this performance was hiarious and on point. It proved the range of Alan’s versatility and made him a hero to smart-mouthed skeptics all over the world! – Kait

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (voice of Marvin the robot) – One of the best reasons to watch this movie was hearing Alan Rickman voice Marvin the severely depress, bored, and highly intelligent robot who accompanies the hitchhiker on his journey. The role seemed to be made for his voice and he definitely made Marvin all the more lovable despite his pessimistic demeanor. – Nat

We’ll miss Alan Rickman and his presence in every movie he was in will be remembered, always.  We’ll also be glad to know that he never stopped having a sense of humor.


By Molly

Molly is a proud Canadian who is currently attending university in Scotland. She loves to read, write, watch films, and talk about Sarah J. Maas books. If not snuggled up with a book, Molly can usually be found tapping at the dance studio, or writing yet another essay.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.