I had initially started this blog with the intention of analyzing narrative structure in television shows, but that quickly proved unfeasible with my current work and other commitments. I just didn’t have the time to devote the several hours a week that I would need to watch each episode of a television show multiple times, research it, analyze it, and type up an extensive discussion. However, I still wanted to blog and was casting around for a more manageable topic.
In the meantime, I–like so many other movie fans around the world–was saddened to hear of the sudden passing of Alan Rickman back in January.
It seems like everyone has a default character that Rickman is for them, probably the first one they saw him play. For some, it’s Hans Gruber; for others, it’s the Sheriff of Notthingham or Colonel Brandon or Severus Snape. My default character is probably some weird fusion of Hans Gruber and Alexander Dane–Hans Dane? Alexander Gruber? I don’t know how you’d fuse those two characters, but I guarantee you the result would be awesomeness personified.
My introduction to Rickman came when I was about 10/11. At that age, I knew actors were not their characters, but he was the one who hammered that lesson into my head when, within a few months apart, I watched Galaxy Quest and Quigley Down Under with my family. I honestly don’t remember which I encountered first. I’m pretty sure it was Galaxy Quest, but it may have been Quigley Down Under. In any event, I just remember adoring Galaxy Quest’s Alexander Dane, the snarky, embittered Shakespearean actor trapped in shlocky science fiction hell, and also being startled to realize that same guy was also Quigley Down Under’s Elliot Marston, the loathsome, sneering but still immensely entertaining asshole that Tom Selleck threw through a window. Mind officially blown.
After that, I considered him one of my favorite actors and always kept an eye out for Rickman, and he never disappointed me. I always knew that, no matter how bad a movie was or how small his role was, I could always count on Rickman when he was onscreen. It’s interesting to me that everyone, in the wake of his passing, kept talking about him battling being typecast as a villain throughout his career because my default mental image of Rickman was not that of a villain. Instead my immediate mental association for him was him being wonderfully snarky and him being gloriously pissed off and disdainful, regardless of good guy/bad guy status, even though I also readily admit that there was certainly so much more to him than his withering glares, amazing lines, and inimitable voice.
In the past few weeks, I have been re-watching favorites movies of his to commemorate him. Along the way, I realized that there were a lot of Alan Rickman movies I had never seen before and decided that I was going to spend the year watching all of his movies I could get a hold of–old favorites, as well as never-before-seen ones. My Rickman tribute–which I’ve started referring to as the Alan Rickman Memorial Festival–quickly dawned on me as the perfect gateway for me back into the blogging world.
So, stay tuned as I journey through Rickman’s varied career. Up first: the BBC’s 1978 TV film version of Romeo and Juliet in which an early 30-something Rickman plays Tybalt.