“It would be wonderful to think that the future is unknown and sort of surprising.”
To pay tribute to beloved actor Alan Rickman who passed away this morning, the OJ staff decided to band together to tell you about our very first film we ever spotted Rickman in. We hope you enjoy.
Die Hard (1988) — “Hans Gruber”
Jake, Movies & TV Editor:
When I was a child, I wouldn’t be allowed in the living room when my father would watch a movie called Die Hard. That movie became a sort of Holy Grail for me. The day I was able to watch it, I felt that I would be considered a man. That had to be why I wasn’t allowed to even be in the same room as it, but my father was. The day finally came, when I was about 12 or 13, that I got to sit down with my father and watch this coveted film.
What followed was 2 hours of bliss. To this day, Die Hard remains one of my absolute favorite movies. It’s easy for anyone to gravitate towards Bruce Willis’s John McClane, but the character that always stood out to me was the villainous Hans Gruber. Hans Gruber was the “German” antagonist portrayed by the incredible Alan Rickman.
Rickman was sinister, funny, and felt like a genuine threat. What really made me fall in love with the character was that until Die Hard, any movie villain I’d seen had been incredibly exaggerated. Alan Rickman didn’t need clown makeup, prosthetics, the ability to sprout blades where hands once were, or mountains of muscles to become one of the most iconic villains in cinema history.
Rickman’s performance holds such importance that it is what every villain in the Die Hard series is compared to.
Today is an incredibly sad day for the film industry.
Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves (1991) — “Sheriff George of Nottingham”
Andrew, Video Games Asst. Editor:
For the longest time, I didn’t quite know who this guy was. It took me forever. Only after watching his portrayal of Snape in the Harry Potter franchise, did I start to remember where else I had seen him. When I was a kid, I always wanted to be a knight; it only made sense that I was drawn to Robin Hood, then. Sure, he was the bad guy in this one, but watching it over and over again makes you realize how WELL he did the role. To this day, my family still likes to use his line “it’s dull you twit, it’ll hurt more!” (in reference to cutting somebody’s heart out with a spoon.) I’ll always remember how he constantly had this attitude in the movie that he was the smartest man in the room, and really shows a snarky side to a classic character. Mr. Rickman, you are probably my favorite bad guy of all time, and nobody can do it better than you.
Dogma (1999) — “Metatron”
As a huge Kevin Smith fan, the very first movie I saw Alan Rickman in was Dogma. Even as an uber Harry Potter nerd, I will always see Rickman as Metatron. There’s a certain energy that he was able to harness that no other actor I’ve witnessed can even attempt to possess. But you couldn’t take your eyes off of him when he graced the screen. Or when he added his deep voice to something, you couldn’t help but close your eyes and listen. I will never forget you, Voice of God.
I’m right there with you, Faren. Kevin Smith’s fourth film, Dogma was a piece of art, in no small part due to Alan Rickman’s stellar portrayal of Metatron. This was also the movie that sent me spiraling into my teenage obsession with anything Kevin Smith (which was an integral part of finding my identity as a teen). Once I saw Dogma, I instantly recognized Rickman in other films and grew to adore all of his roles; but I still think of him as Metatron before his better-known roles, Severus Snape and Hans Gruber. Smith himself describes Rickman best:
“One of the greatest actors who ever lived…”
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (2005) — “Marvin, The Paranoid Android”
Michael Selvia, Co-Admin, Opinion Editor:
Gosh… With such a filmography of iconic roles, it really is hard to focus on just one. So I’d like to take the time to mention one of Rickman’s more obscure, lesser known roles.
In this comic science fiction film, Rickman’s voice-over work as a manically depressed robot is beyond hilarious. For a movie which mostly fell below the radar, and was contested amongst many fans of the source material; it really is an underrated adaptation that I think you should definitely see. I promise you’ll be charmed by Rickman’s sad little robot. LONG LIVE LORD ALAN OF THE RICKMAN!!
Sweeney Todd — “Judge Turpin” (2007)
Rachel, Music Editor:
I’ve only seen Alan Rickman in a few things, but whatever characters he played, he did extraordinarily well. The first movie I actually recall him being in was Tim Burton’s rendition of Sweeney Todd. The delivery of such a character as Judge Turpin would fall short in so many others’ hands, but Rickman made the character not simply villainous, but more importantly– believable and disdainful.
Of course, these characteristics (along with his gifts of dryness and snark) also made for an astounding Professor Snape, the role for which he is undoubtedly most known and loved for. As a latecomer to Harry Potter, I used the opportunity to reach each book and then watch its movie before progressing in the series. His performance of Severus Snape is so incredibly spot-on, you cannot help but picture Rickman, even as you read the books. There is something to be said of someone who can bring such a complex character to life, to the point where you cannot help but feel compassion and empathy for them.
Thank you for everything, Alan. I will remember you. Always.
Harry Potter Series (2001-2011) — “Severus Snape”
My first impression of Alan Rickman was that of a mean, horrifying professor that made me scared to go to college. That was in third grade. As I grew older, and the Harry Potter series continued, I found a love for Alan as Severus and the other characters he has portrayed in his career. Whether he was an atrocious wizard professor or a deep love interest in a Jane Austen film, Rickman was an amazing actor and will be deeply missed.
Carrick, Music Writer:
The first time I ever saw Alan Rickman, it was actually the second time. Like everyone else in my generation, I saw the Harry Potter movies and I knew who Snape was, and he put me on edge but I also thought he was funny. He was the kind of professor I would really want to like me, in a half-kiss ass way and the other half genuine respect for the man and his composure.
I learned who Alan Rickman was when I saw him the second time, between the second and third Harry Potter movies, as the villain Hans Gruber in the 1988 action movie Die Hard. I was bemused but hung up. Like any self-respecting pimply Runescape-dweller, I wanted John McClane to dropkick him off the top of the skyscraper ASAP. But just the same, I enjoyed the moments of interaction that Gruber had with McClane. The two of them seemed almost chummy. They knew the other was the top of their game, and there was a small thrill in the tension.
Soon it became a large thrill. I used to want to watch films that were all pay-off, all blood, and all guts, but there, watching the long stretches of dialogue and suspense that punctuated each explosion or shoot-out, I began to enjoy the wisecracks, the scenery, the creeping. And all the while, I liked Hans Gruber. But I wasn’t supposed to like him. He’s only there to die. These are the dilemmas we face as teenagers.
Returning to Harry Potter the next year, I began to long less for action sequences with dragons and giants and noise, and I began to really soak up the atmosphere and character interplay. And when I saw Alan Rickman, I didn’t think about Hans Gruber. I only thought about Snape. The master actor is the one who sublimates into his or her given role, to the point where we don’t recognize their big famous mug on the screen. With the sad news, we have lost a master.
Thank you for everything, Alan. We’ll remember you always.