Alan Rickman, during the span of his career, has been known to play the baddie. From Hans Gruber in Die Hard to Judge Turpin in Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Rickman managed to portray a new class of villains altogether: the sophisticated kind. But of all his performances, the one that made him immensely famous was that of Severus Snape, further enforcing the image of the highly educated, intelligent, languid-voiced bad guy. Until Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, that is. In the final installment of the Harry Potter movies, Rickman shows how deep and complex the character of the Potions Master really is, and all of that in only one word: always.
After playing the ultra-suave and polished terrorist who fell off the Nakatomi Plaza, earning Detective John McClane his fame, Alan Rickman went on to play a baddie from the medieval era, the despicable Sheriff of Nottingham in the 1991 movie, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Robin Hood begins with Robin (Kevin Kostner), the son of a wealthy nobleman, is kept prisoner in Jerusalem as he fought for King Richard the Third during the Crusades. On returning home he finds that his father has been butchered by the Sheriff of Nottingham and the whole fiefdom is languishing in ruins left by the Sheriff’s men. Robin assembles his band of Merry Men and soon enough tries to take on the Sheriff, stealing from the rich, giving to the poor and winning maid Marianne’s heart in the bargain.
Rickman’s portrayal of the character borders on comical and throws funny one-liners in the form of threats, such as threatening to “cut your [Robin] heart out with a spoon” because “it would hurt more” and even dashing about wildly (as they do in slapstick comedies) in vexation at the Merry Men’s antics. And as all his villainous characters, he somehow does have a soft side; admittedly, for an old voodoo practicing hag. The funnies don’t just end there, of course, what with him asking the surgeon to “keep the stitches small” after Robin Hood sliced his cheek. Of course, no one would have wanted his beautiful face to be marred, let alone him.
For those who haven’t seen Rickman outside of the Harry Potter films, there is yet another character that was inconsistent with his usual onscreen persona. In the 1995 film Sense and Sensibility, he plays the role of stoic yet warm-hearted Colonel Christopher Brandon who wins the heart of Marianne Dashwood (Kate Winslet), a young woman who is in love with the idea of love. Turned off by the proposal that her uncle and aunt bring her, she at first was indifferent towards him on account of his tepid and lukewarm nature, which grossly contrasted with her fiery and passionate one. During the course of the movie, he even attempts to protect her from her own foolishness of falling in love with a blackguard, despite her constant rejection of him and also proving to be a good brother-in-law to her sister Elinor, played by Emma Thompson. Rickman had come a long way since then, what with all the Harry Potter movies, even featuring in 2003 romantic comedy, Love, Actually, again opposite Emma Thompson.
In 2007, Alan Rickman once again played the villain, Judge Turpin in the musical horror Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. Fans of Rickman’s characteristic voice would be pleased to hear him sing in a duet with Johnny Depp who plays the eponymous Sweeney Todd, returned from exile and out to get the corrupt Judge Turpin. Rickman plays the character of a man who has ruined Benjamin Barker’s family and deports him, only to later pay for his crimes at the hands of the Benjamin Barker himself who impersonates a barber, Sweeney Todd.
Agree with our list? Are there any more performances from the great actor you’d like to add? Let us know in the comments