RIP Alan Rickman: we’ve lost a great

First David Bowie goes then, mere days later, we lose Alan Rickman. Both 69 and both lost their battles with cancer. This just isn’t acceptable. It’s so, so sad.

But I am sure the man that so artfully played Severus Snape in Harry Potter wouldn’t want us to be morose and down in the dumps, oh no. For little do people know, but Alan Sidney Patrick Rickman was a bit of a joker and had a great sense of humour. That’s the rub kids, he was acting. Acting. And he was bloody good at it too.

So rather than mourn his death let’s celebrate his life and, more specifically, his excellent body of cinematic work. Known for playing bad and despicable types, Rickman’s first credit on IMDb is for the nefarious Tybalt in a TV movie of Romeo & Juliet in 1978. This must have set the scene for what came next, surely? For a decade later, having worked steadily in TV and theatre, he made his big screen debut as the delectable – and thoroughly evil – Hans Gruber in Die Hard in 1988. A classic bad guy, and thoroughly worthy opponent for Bruce Willis’ cop in the wrong place at the wrong time.


For me, the next time I saw Rickman chew up the scenery and scare – and hugely entertain – everyone around him, was as the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves in 1991. Again, surrounded by Americans who weren’t quite sure what to do with him, they muddled by as best they could as he threatened to ‘cut their hearts out with a spoon.’ His legend status was beginning to cement nicely.


He then decided to tone it down a bit, taking the role of the Metatron (the voice of God) in a quirky indie flick called Dogma, starring a young Matt Damon and Ben Affleck. His entrance, causing Linda Fiorentino to raise an eyebrow (no easy thing, she’s fiesty), proved he was very much in on the joke.


Demonstrating his comedy chops were just as fearsome as his bad guy routine, he continued the trend that year playing a jaded and exasperated actor slowly unravelling (and massively enjoying himself in the process) in cult hit Galaxy Quest, a send-up of Star Trek, opposite Sigourney Weaver and Tim Allen.

Then, in 2001, we got to see his take on the character for which he’s most well known, Severus Snape in Harry Potter. At the time just a fledgling film and not the juggernaut franchise we now know and love. And whilst the whole cast went towards making it a success – and spawning the aforementioned franchise – Rickman’s performance as Snape (probably the most accurate portrayal of a Harry Potter character by any of the cast) was no doubt a big part of that success.

So with the franchise going from strength to strength for the rest of that decade, Alan was kept busy, but to his credit he never let the character of Snape go stale. He was always finding new ways to give him more depth and nuance. Even make him sympathetic (he was helped by Snape’s arc in the source material, but J.K. Rowling was still writing the books and he still had to put it across what he did know convincingly on screen).

On a break from Potter in the early days he also managed to get in a romantic comedy, of sorts, in Richard Curtis’ obligatory one-to-watch-at-Christmas movie, Love Actually. Despite the gargatuan cast, he stood out. His relationship with Emma Thompson’s character is one of the most heartbreaking and affecting story strands in the whole thing.

LOVE ACTUALLY, Heike Makatsch, Alan Rickman, 2003, (c) Universal/courtesy Everett Collection

In 2010, in what I consider to be an inspired bit of casting, he then played the Blue Caterpillar in Alice in Wonderland. His dour delivery of lines striking just the right note to stop the film from becoming too overloaded with Johnny Depp’s mad overacting.

A few years later, in 2014, he even turned his hand to directing, in a moderately well received period piece A Little Chaos, starring Kate Winslet.

And, even though he’s now gone, we may see him again, or at least his voice, as he reprised his role as the caterpillar in the not-yet-released Alice Through The Looking Glass.

So on a final note, to paraphrase/steal a line from Tommy Lee Jones in Men In Black… Alan Rickman isn’t dead, he’s just gone home.

But if I’m wrong, RIP Mr Rickman, wherever you are, you’ll be missed beyond measure.


The seductive world of Salma Hayek

Curves to die for, seduction incarnate. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the world of Salma Hayek Jimenez.

Born in 1966 in Mexico (she’s 47 if you can believe it), she rose to fame in the title role of a telenovela called Teresa in 1989. Seeking greater fame she moved to LA in 1991, where she caught the eye of Robert Rodriguez and bagged a lead role in Desperado opposite Antonio Banderas. From there her plan to seduce the world began…Salma_Hayek_dogma
Desperado (1995)
Most of us got our first introduction to Hayek as a woman who could cause traffic accidents, literally. Demonstrated in this great scene in Robert Rodriguez’s guilty pleasure action movie. Like a dirty shot of tequila this film is sweaty, sexy and a lot more fun than you care to admit.

From Dusk Till Dawn
You’ve not lived until you’ve had a seductive snake dance in a vampire-infested bar on the edge of the Mexican border. Or so I’ve been told. I doubt Tarantino was even acting reacting to her dance: wailing guitar, fire breathing, pouring whisky shots down her leg. Simply spellbinding.

Pink underwear, pigtails, cute geek glasses… damn you Kevin Smith. Or Salma. Someone’s to blame for this scene. I say blame, it’s a brilliant scene. As soon as you hear Candy Girl by New Edition kick in you’re there with Chris Rock’s Apostle, grooving to the beat.

The trailer calls the title character – played by Hayek – as ‘one of the most seductive women of ours or any time’, which is pretty accurate as this performance got her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. A high point in Hayek’s career in terms of an acting showcase.

Puss in Boots
Ok, Kitty Softpaws is an animated character but… it’s still Salma Hayek and her voice is very much part of her appeal. And it was great to see her working with Banderas again, they have wonderful chemistry – even if they were furry little cats who like to steal things.