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Alan Rickman

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Alan Rickman

Alan Rickman
Alan Rickman in 2011
Born Alan Sidney Patrick Rickman
(1946-02-21) 21 February 1946
Hammersmith, London, England, United Kingdom
Occupation Actor
Years active 1978–present
Partner(s) Rima Horton (1965–present)

Alan Sidney Patrick Rickman (born 21 February 1946) is an English actor. Rickman is a former member of the Royal Shakespeare Company in both modern and classical theatre productions. His breakout performance was as the Vicomte de Valmont in Les Liaisons Dangereuses, for which he was nominated for a Tony Award. Rickman is well known for his film performances as Hans Gruber in Die Hard, Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (for which he won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role in 1991), Severus Snape in the Harry Potter film series, Éamon de Valera in Michael Collins, Metatron in Dogma, and Ronald Reagan in The Butler.

Rickman has also had a number of other notable film roles such as Jamie in Truly, Madly, Deeply, Colonel Brandon in Ang Lee's 1995 film Sense and Sensibility, Harry in Love Actually, P.L. O'Hara in An Awfully Big Adventure. More recently, he played Judge Turpin in the film adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's musical of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. In 1995, he was awarded the Golden Globe, Emmy Award and Screen Actors Guild Award for his portrayal of Rasputin in Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny.

As of 2013, Rickman has won a BAFTA Award, a Golden Globe Award, an Emmy Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award. He has been nominated twice for a Tony Award and several times for a BAFTA Award.

Early life

Rickman was born on 21 February 1946 in South Hammersmith, London, England, to a working class family, the son of Margaret Doreen Rose (née Bartlett), a housewife, and Bernard Rickman, a factory worker.[1] His ancestry is English, Irish and Welsh; his father was Catholic and his mother a Methodist.[2][3] He has one elder brother, David (b. 1944), a graphic designer; a younger brother, Michael (b. 1947), a tennis coach; and a younger sister, Sheila (b. 1949).[2][4] Rickman attended Derwentwater Primary School, in Acton, a school that followed the Montessori method of education.[5]

When he was eight, Rickman's father died, leaving his mother to raise him and his three siblings mostly alone. She married again, but divorced his stepfather after three years. "There was one love in her life", Rickman later said of this.[2] He excelled at calligraphy and watercolour painting. From Derwentwater Junior School he won a scholarship to Latymer Upper School in London, where he became involved in drama. After leaving Latymer, he attended Chelsea College of Art and Design and then the Royal College of Art. This education allowed him to work as a graphic designer for the radical newspaper the Notting Hill Herald,[6] which he considered a more stable occupation than acting. "Drama school wasn't considered the sensible thing to do at 18", he said.

After graduation, Rickman and several friends opened a graphic design studio called Graphiti, but after three years of successful business, he decided that if he was going to pursue acting professionally, it was now or never. This led him to write a letter to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) requesting an audition[7] and was awarded a place in RADA which he attended from 1972 to 1974. While there, he studied Shakespeare's works and supported himself by working as a dresser for Nigel Hawthorne and Sir Ralph Richardson.[8] He left after winning several prizes, including the Emile Littler Prize, the Forbes Robertson Prize and the Bancroft Gold Medal.


Rickman in December 2009

After graduating from RADA, Rickman 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 Theatre, and has appeared three times at the Edinburgh International Festival. In 1978, he played with the Court Drama Group, performing in several plays, most notably Romeo and Juliet and A View from the Bridge. While working with the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) he starred in, among other things, As You Like It.

In 1982, British television audiences came to know Alan Rickman as the Reverend Obadiah Slope in the BBC's adaptation of Barchester Towers known as "The Barchester Chronicles". In 1985, he was given the male lead, the Vicomte de Valmont, in the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of Christopher Hampton's Les Liaisons Dangereuses, directed by Howard Davies.[9]

When the show went to Broadway in 1987, Rickman earned both a Tony Award nomination[10] and a Drama Desk Award nomination for his performance.[11] In 1992, he was the "master of ceremonies" on Mike Oldfield's album Tubular Bells II where he read off a list of instruments on the album. His career has been filled with a wide variety of roles. He has played romantic leads like Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility, and Jamie in Truly, Madly, Deeply; numerous villains in Hollywood big budget films, like German terrorist Hans Gruber in Die Hard (1988) and the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991); the very occasional television role such as the infamous "mad monk" Rasputin in an HBO biopic (1996), and most recently the ambiguous character of Severus Snape, the potions master in the Harry Potter series (2001–2011).

His role in Die Hard earned him a spot on the AFI's 100 years...100 Heroes & Villains as the 46th best villain in film history. His performance as the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves also made him known as one of the best actors to portray a villain in films.[12][13] He has taken issue with being typecast as a "villain actor", citing the fact that he has not portrayed a stock villain character since the Sheriff of Nottingham in 1991.

During his long career Rickman has also played a number of comedic roles, sending up classically trained British actors who take on "lesser roles" as the character Sir Alexander Dane/Dr. Lazarus in the science fiction spoof Galaxy Quest, portraying the angel Metatron, the voice of God, in Dogma, appearing as Emma Thompson's foolish husband Harry in Love Actually, providing the voice of Marvin the Paranoid Android in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and the egotistical, Nobel Prize-winning father in Nobel Son.

Rickman at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival

Rickman has also received acclaim for two biographical pieces he did for HBO. He won a Golden Globe and an Emmy[14] for his performance as Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny in 1996, and was also nominated for an Emmy for his work as Dr. Alfred Blalock in 2004's Something the Lord Made. He also starred in the independent film Snow Cake (with Sigourney Weaver and Carrie-Anne Moss) which had its debut at the Berlinale, and also Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (with Dustin Hoffman), directed by Tom Tykwer.

In 2007, Rickman appeared in the critically acclaimed Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street directed by Tim Burton, alongside Harry Potter co-stars Helena Bonham Carter and Timothy Spall; he played antagonist Judge Turpin. Rickman also appeared as Absolem the Caterpillar in Burton's 2010 film Alice in Wonderland.

In 2000, Rickman appeared in Victoria Wood with All The Trimmings, a Christmas special by Victoria Wood, playing an aged colonel in the battle of Waterloo who is forced to break off his engagement to Honeysuckle Weeks' character. Harry Potter co-star Imelda Staunton also appeared in the special. He has performed onstage in Noël Coward's romantic comedy Private Lives, which transferred to Broadway after its successful run in London at the Albery Theatre and ended in September 2002; he reunited with his Les Liaisons Dangereuses co-star Lindsay Duncan and director Howard Davies in the Tony Award-winning production. His previous stage performance was as Mark Antony, opposite Dame Helen Mirren as Cleopatra, in the Royal National Theatre's production of Antony and Cleopatra at the Olivier Theatre in London, which ran from 20 October to 3 December 1998.

Rickman had also directed The Winter Guest at London's Almeida Theatre in 1995 and the film version of the same play in 1996 starring Emma Thompson and her real life mother Phyllida Law. He also compiled (with Katharine Viner) and 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.

In 2009, Rickman was awarded the James Joyce Award by University College Dublin’s Literary and Historical Society.[15]

In October and November 2010, Rickman starred in the eponymous role in Henrik Ibsen's John Gabriel Borkman at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin alongside Lindsay Duncan and Fiona Shaw.[16] The Irish Independent called Rickman's performance breathtaking.[17] This production subsequently travelled to the Brooklyn Academy of Music for performances in January and February 2011.[18]

In 2011, Rickman again appeared as Severus Snape in the final installment in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2. Throughout the series, his portrayal of Snape garnered widespread critical acclaim.[19][20][21] Kenneth Turan of The Los Angeles Times said Rickman "as always, makes the most lasting impression,"[22] while Peter Travers of Rolling Stone called Rickman "sublime at giving us a glimpse at last into the secret nurturing heart that [...] Snape masks with a sneer."[23] Media coverage characterized Rickman's performance as worthy of an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor nomination.[24][25][26][27][28][29] He earned his first award nominations for his role as Snape at the 2011 Alliance of Women Film Journalists Awards, 2011 Saturn Awards, 2011 Scream Awards and 2011 St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association Awards in the Best Supporting Actor category.[30][31][32][33]

On 21 November 2011, Rickman opened in Seminar, a new play by Theresa Rebeck, at the John Golden Theatre on Broadway.[34] Rickman, who left the production on 1 April, won the Audience Choice Award for Favorite Actor in a Play[35] and was nominated for a Drama League Award.[36]

Rickman starred with Colin Firth and Cameron Diaz in a remake of 1966's Gambit by Michael Hoffman (director).

In 2013, he played Hilly Kristal, the founder of the famous East Village punk-rock club CBGB, in the CBGB film with Rupert Grint.[37]

In the media

Alan Rickman posing for a fan after a performance of John Gabriel Borkman in 2011

Rickman was chosen by Empire as one of the 100 Sexiest Stars in film history (No 34) in 1995 and ranked No 59 in Empire's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" list in October 1997. In 2009 and 2010 Rickman ranked once again as one of the 100 Sexiest Stars by Empire, both times Rickman was placed 8th out of the 50 actors chosen. Rickman became Vice-Chairman of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in 2003. He was voted No 19 in Empire magazine's Greatest Living Movie Stars over the age of 50 and was twice nominated for Broadway's Tony Award as Best Actor (Play): in 1987 for Les Liaisons Dangereuses, and in 2002 for a revival of Noël Coward's Private Lives. The Guardian named Rickman as an "honourable mention" in a list of the best actors never to have received an Academy Award nomination.[38]

Two researchers, a linguist and a sound engineer, found "the perfect [male] voice" to be a combination of Rickman's and Jeremy Irons's voices based on a sample of 50 voices.[39] Coincidentally, the two actors played brothers in the Die Hard series of films.

Rickman has also been featured in several musical works – most notably in a song composed by the English songwriter Adam Leonard entitled "Not Alan Rickman".[40] 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.[41] Rickman was one of the many artists who recited Shakespearian sonnets on the 2002 album When Love Speaks,[42] and is also featured prominently in a music video by the band Texas entitled "In Demand",[43] which premiered on Europe MTV in August 2000. In the video, lead singer Sharleen Spiteri danced the tango with Rickman: the clip was nominated for Best British Video at the Brit Awards.

Personal life

In 1965, at the age of 19, Rickman met 18-year-old Rima Horton, who became his first girlfriend and would later be a Labour Party councillor on the Kensington and Chelsea London Borough Council (1986–2006) and an economics lecturer at the nearby Kingston University.[44][45][46] They have been living together since 1977. He is an active patron of the charity Saving Faces.[47]


Year Title Role Notes
1978 Romeo and Juliet Tybalt BBC Television Shakespeare
1980 Thérèse Raquin Vidal BBC Miniseries
1980 Shelley Clive Episode No. 1.7
1982 Busted Simon BBC TV film
1982 Smiley's People Mr. Brownlow Episode No. 1.2
1982 Barchester Chronicles, TheThe Barchester Chronicles The Rev. Obadiah Slope BBC Miniseries
1985 Return of the Native Narrator
1985 Summer Season Croop BBC TV Series
1985 Girls on Top Dimitri / Voice of RADA CIT TV Series
1988 Die Hard Hans Gruber
1989 Revolutionary Witness Jacques Roux BBC TV Short
1989 January Man, TheThe January Man Ed, the painter
1989 Screenplay Israel Yates BBC TV Series
1990 Quigley Down Under Elliot Marston
1991 Truly, Madly, Deeply Jamie
1991 Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves Sheriff of Nottingham
1991 Close My Eyes Sinclair Bryant
1991 Closet Land The Interrogator
1992 Bob Roberts Lukas Hart III
1993 Fallen Angels Dwight Billings TV Series
1994 Mesmer Franz Anton Mesmer
1995 Die Hard with a Vengeance Hans Gruber Cameo appearance
1995 Awfully Big Adventure, AnAn Awfully Big Adventure P.L. O'Hara
1995 Sense and Sensibility Colonel Brandon
1996 Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny Grigori Rasputin
1996 Michael Collins Éamon de Valera
1996 Castle Ghosts of Ireland Tyde Documentary
1997 Winter Guest, TheThe Winter Guest Man in street (uncredited) Also director and co-writer
1998 Judas Kiss Detective David Friedman
1998 Dark Harbor David Weinberg
1999 Dogma The Metatron
1999 Galaxy Quest Alexander Dane/Dr. Lazarus
2000 Help! I'm a Fish Joe (voice)
2001 Play Man
2001 Blow Dry Phil Allen
2001 Land of the Mammoth Cro Magnon hunter Documentary
2001 Search for John Gissing, TheThe Search for John Gissing John Gissing
2001 Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Severus Snape Released in the U.S. and South Asia under the title Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
2002 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Severus Snape
2002 King of the Hill King Philip (voice)
2003 Love Actually Harry
2004 Something the Lord Made Dr. Alfred Blalock
2004 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Severus Snape
2005 Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Severus Snape
2005 Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, TheThe Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Marvin the Paranoid Android (voice)
2006 Perfume: The Story of a Murderer Antoine Richis
2006 Snow Cake Alex Hughes
2007 Nobel Son Eli Michaelson
2007 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Severus Snape
2007 Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street Judge Turpin
2008 Bottle Shock Steven Spurrier
2009 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Severus Snape
2010 Alice in Wonderland Absolem the Caterpillar (voice)
2010 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 Severus Snape
2010 Wildest Dream, TheThe Wildest Dream Noel Odell (voice) National Geographic documentary
2010 Song of Lunch, TheThe Song of Lunch He BBC Drama Production[48]
2011 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 Severus Snape
2011 The Boy in the Bubble Narrator Animated short film
2011 Back at the Barnyard General Alien TV Series Episode Aliens
2012 Gambit Lord Shahbandar
2013 The Butler Ronald Reagan
2013 A Promise Karl Hoffmeister
2013 CBGB Hilly Kristal
2013 Dust Todd
2014 A Little Chaos King Louis XIV/Director Post-production
2015 The Parallel Announced
2016 Alice in Wonderland: Through the Looking Glass Absolem the Caterpillar (voice)

Awards and nominations


  1. ^ Solway, Diane (August 1991). "Profile: Alan Rickman". European Travel and Life. Archived from the original on 6 October 2007. Retrieved 3 October 2007. 
  2. ^ a b c Mackenzie, Suzie (3 January 1998). "Angel with Horns". The Guardian (UK). Archived from the original on 6 October 2007. Retrieved 3 October 2007. 
  3. ^ Biography for Alan Rickman at the Internet Movie Database
  4. ^ Alan Rickman Family Info Retrieved 4 September 2010.
  5. ^ Maureen Paton (1996). Alan Rickman – The Unauthorised Biography.  
  6. ^ Alan Rickman Biography. Retrieved 6 September 2010.
  7. ^ "Interview: Evil Elegance". Archived from the original on 7 July 2011. Retrieved 9 July 2011. 
  8. ^ Interview Alan Rickman Retrieved on 20 December 2007.
  9. ^ Frank Rich (1 May 1987). New York Times, ed. "Carnal abandon in 'Les Liaisons dangereuses’". The New York Times. 
  10. ^ – Les Liaisons Dangereuses Tony Award Infosite; retrieved 7 January 2008.
  11. ^ "retrieved 4 July 2010". Retrieved 9 July 2011. 
  12. ^ The Screening Room's Top 10 British Villains from CNN
  13. ^ Pop Culture News TOUGH ACTOR TO FOLLOW from Entertainment Weekly
  14. ^ Alan Rickman Emmy Award Winner
  15. ^ Alan Rickman wins James Joyce Award; retrieved 16 March 2010.
  16. ^ "Abbey Theatre – Amharclann na Mainistreach". Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 9 July 2011. 
  17. ^ GrabOne daily deals (17 October 2010). "Stars set stage alight in Ibsen's dark tale". The Irish Independent. Retrieved 9 July 2011. 
  18. ^ "John Gabriel Borkman". BAM. Retrieved 12 February 2011. 
  19. ^ Harry Potter (7 July 2011). "Daniel Radcliffe: Alan Rickman deserves Oscar nomination for Severus Snape". Telegraph (London). Retrieved 10 October 2013. 
  20. ^ Ellwood, Gregory (8 December 2011). "Alan Rickman clarifies just how much J.K. Rowling told him about Snapes fate in the Harry Potter series". Retrieved 10 October 2013. 
  21. ^ Wicks, Kevin (10 September 2011). "Best of Alan Rickman: From 'Blow Dry' to 'Bottle Shock' to Severus Snape". Anglophenia. BBC America. Retrieved 10 October 2013. 
  22. ^  
  23. ^  
  24. ^ Schwartz, Terri (9 November 2011). Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows' For Your Consideration Oscars Ad Launched"'".  
  25. ^ "Harry Potter: Alan Rickman Destined for Oscar Nomination?".  
  26. ^ Ellwood, Gregory (17 July 2011). "Alan Rickman may be 'Harry Potter's' best shot at Oscar".  
  27. ^ "Rickman’s portrayal of Snape deserves Academy Award nomination".  
  28. ^ Lumenick, Lou (11 July 2011). "Wizard of awe!".  
  29. ^ Suskind, Alex. "'"The Best Movies of 2011–2012. 'Deathly Hallows, Part II.  
  30. ^ "Best Supporting Actor – Scream 2011".  
  31. ^ "The 38th Saturn Award Nominations".  
  32. ^ "2011 St. Louis Film Critics’ Award Winners".  
  33. ^ "Alliamce of Women Film Journalists Awards 2011". Movie City News. Retrieved 28 December 2011. 
  34. ^ Brantley, Ben (20 November 2011). "Shredding Egos, One Semicolon at a Time — 'Seminar' by Theresa Rebeck, a review". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 November 2011. 
  35. ^ Brantley, Ben (15 May 2012). "Alan Rickman's Audience Choice Award Win Brings Back Memories of a 'Very Good Time' in Seminar". Retrieved 24 May 2011. 
  36. ^ Brantley, Ben (24 April 2012). "2012 Drama League Award Nominations Announced!". Retrieved 24 May 2011. 
  37. ^ Kit, Borys (12 September 2012). The New York Times, ed. "Alan Rickman to Play CBGB Founder in Biopic". 
  38. ^ Singer, Leigh (19 February 2009). "Oscars: the best actors never to have been nominated". The Guardian (London). 
  39. ^ "'"Formula 'secret of perfect voice. BBC News. 30 May 2008. Retrieved 6 December 2010. 
  40. ^ "Leonardism (2007)". (Adam Leonard's website). Retrieved 12 February 2011. 
  41. ^ "Tubular Bells II". Retrieved 12 February 2011. 
  42. ^ "When love speaks". RADA Enterprises. Retrieved 12 February 2011. 
  43. ^ "Biography of Alan Rickman". Dominic Wills/ Retrieved 12 February 2011. 
  44. ^ Rima Horton. The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
  45. ^ McGlone, Jackie (30 July 2006). "A man for all seasons". The Scotsman (UK). Retrieved 23 April 2011. 
  46. ^ Sheridan, Patricia (15 December 2008). "Rickman never mixes acting with personal life". Retrieved 23 April 2011. 
  47. ^ *Saving Faces: The Facial Surgery Research Foundation
  48. ^ "The Song Of Lunch – Alan Rickman". BBC. 16 September 2010. Retrieved 9 July 2011. 

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