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Alan Rickman

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Alan Sidney Patrick Rickman is the English actor who portrays Professor Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films.


Early life

Alan Rickman was born on 21 February 1946 in Hammersmith, London to Bernard and Margaret Rickman. His father died when Rickman was eight, leaving his mother to raise Alan and his three siblings. He attended Latymer Upper School on a scholarship and then went on to study Graphic Design at Chelsea College Of Art and Design. After college he started a successful graphics design business with friends called Graphiti, before his love of the theatre led him to seek an audition with the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA). He received a scholarship allowing him to study at RADA, which enabled him to start his professional acting career.


"You can act truthfully or you can lie. You can reveal things about yourself or you can hide. Therefore, the audience recognises something about themselves or they don't—You hope they don't leave the theatre thinking 'that was where's the cab?'"
—Alan Rickman on acting

Whilst he is best known for his film roles Rickman's first love is the stage, he has worked extensively with various British repertory and experimental theatre groups on productions including The Seagull and Snoo Wilson's The Grass Widow at the Royal Court, and has appeared three times at the Edinburgh International Festival. While working with the Royal Shakespeare Company he made a particular impression as the male lead in there 1985 production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses. When the show went across the Atlantic in 1986, Rickman went with it to Broadway and there earned a Tony Award nomination for his performance as the elegant and heartless seducer.

Alan Rickman has also performed on stage in Noël Coward's romantic comedy Private Lives, which transferred to Broadway after its successful run in London. Rickman was reunited with his Les Liaisons Dangereuses co-star, Lindsay Duncan, and director, Howard Davies for this Tony Award winning production. Previous to this he had appeared in the Royal National Theatre's production of Antony and Cleopatra as Mark Antony, opposite Helen Mirren as Cleopatra, which ran from October 20 to December 3, 1998. Before that, he performed in Yukio Ninagawa's Tango at the End of Winter and the Riverside Studio production of Hamlet in 1991, directed by Robert Sturua. He directed The Winter Guest at London's Almeida Theatre in 1995, which his successfully transferred to film in 1996 which starred his Harry Potter co-star Emma Thompson and her real life mother Phyllida Law.

"If people want to know who I am, it is all in the work."
—Alan Rickman

To television audiences he became known as Mr. Slope in the BBC's 1980s adaptation of Barchester Towers, though he was generally typecast in Hollywood films as an over-the-top villain (German terrorist Hans Gruber in Die Hard and the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves). His role in Die Hard earned him a spot on the American Film Institute's list of the "100 Best Heroes/Villains" as the 46th best villain in film history. His other film performances however showed the true depth of his acting abilities, playing future Irish Taoiseach and president Éamon de Valera in the film Michael Collins alongside Liam Neeson and Brendan Gleeson and showing his romantic side in British movies (Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility; Jamie in Truly, Madly, Deeply) Rickman has also demonstrated considerable talent as a comedy actor in films such as Galaxy Quest, Dogma, and Love Actually. He also plays a crucial role in the Harry Potter films as the potions professor Severus Snape. Rickman was cast in 2005 as the voice of Marvin the Paranoid Android in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy film. Coincidentally, Rickman and David Learner, who occupied Marvin's costume for the TV adaptation and stage shows, studied together at RADA. He was very busy in 2006 with Snow Cake (with Sigourney Weaver and Carrie-Anne Moss) which had its debut at the Berlin Film Festival, and also Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (with Dustin Hoffman), directed by Tom Tykwer.

Snape OOP trailer

Alan Rickman as Severus Snape performing Legilimency in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Rickman continues to show dismay over journalists repeatedly labeling him as a villain actor, citing the fact that he has not portrayed a stock villain character since the Sheriff of Nottingham in 1991, and pointing out that he has continued to portray characters of complex and varying emotions, and does not think it is fair to assign characters a label of good or evil, hero or villain. The media has also dogged him in recent years for his thoughts on his role in the Harry Potter series, an irritation to him as he feels the press are too interested in Snape to pay attention to his other work. However, he is very much admired by his Harry Potter fans for the protection he has shown for his character in the series, as he continues to cite a fear of ruining the mystery of the character for the fans by talking about him. It is known that prior to the book release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Rickman had spoken on occasion about Snape quite easily, but with the controversy of the character following the events of the sixth book, Rickman refused to speak on the character anymore.

Rickman has also been featured in several musical works—most notably in a song composed by the English songwriter Adam Leonard. Moreover, the actor played a "Master of Ceremonies" part in announcing the various instruments in Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells II on the track "The Bell". He was also one of the many artists who recited Shakespearian sonnets on the 2002-released When Love Speaks CD, and is also featured prominently in a Texas music-video entitled "In Demand", which premiered on Europe MTV in August 2000. In the video Sharleen Spiteri (the lead singer of Texas) danced the tango with Alan: the clip was nominated for Best British Video at the Brit Awards. Sharleen said about the choice of Alan for the clip; "I thought it had to be someone who would be believable, who would rip your coat off and pull you into the tango, so I thought Alan Rickman!"

Awards and nominations

Alan Rickman won a Golden Globe and an Emmy for his performance in Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny in 1996, and was also nominated for an Emmy Award for his work as Dr. Alfred Blalock in 2004's Something the Lord Made. He has also been nominated twice for Broadway's Tony Award as Best Actor (Play): in 1987 for Les Liaisons Dangereuses, and in 2002 for the revival of Noël Coward's Private Lives.

Alan Rickman Recieving An Award

Alan Rickman receiving an Emmy award

Rickman directed the play My Name Is Rachel Corrie in April 2005 at the Royal Court Theatre, London, and won the Theatre Goers' Choice Awards for best director. The production is based on the writings of Rachel Corrie, the 23-year-old American woman who was killed on March 16, 2003 by an Israeli Army bulldozer.

Rickman was chosen by Empire magazine as one of the 100 Sexiest Stars in film history (No 34) in 1995, ranked No 59 in Empire's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" list in October 1997 and was voted No 19 in Empire magazine's Greatest Living Movie Stars over the age of 50. In 2007, Entertainment Weekly named him one of their favourite people in pop culture, saying that in the Harry Potter films, "he may not be on screen long- but he owns every minute," and that he is capable of "turning a simple retort into a mini-symphony of contempt."[2]

Rickman became Vice-Chairman of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in 2003.

Personal life

Rickman has been with his partner, Rima Horton, for over forty years, since the two attended Chelsea School of Art together. A former Labour Party candidate for the British parliament, as of 2006 Horton was an economics lecturer at Kingston University.[3]



  • The Barchester Chronicles (1982)
  • We Know Where You Live (2001)

Notes and references

External links

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