On Jan. 14, 2016, ABC News reported that actor/director Alan Rickman lost his battle with pancreatic cancer, leaving behind memorable roles, good friends, and grateful actors in his wake. According to The Sydney Morning Herald, his last words with close friends and family will never be forgotten.
The actor was born on Feb. 21, 1946, on a council estate in Acton, West London. He studied Graphic Design at Chelsea College of Art and Design, where he met his lifetime mate, Rima Horton. After graduating, he opened a successful graphic design business called Graphiti. A few years later, his love for acting drew him to audition with the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. At age 26, he was awarded a scholarship for the academy, which launched an acting career that spanned almost 40 years. Rickman played roles on screen, television, and stage. Later, he went on to directing.
His first bout of American attention came when he portrayed Vicomte de Valmont in Les Liaisons Dangereuses on Broadway in 1987. His performance earned him a Tony Award nomination. He made his first big screen appearance as Hans Gruber in Die Hard. His performance set the standard for villains over decades to come.
The actor also played the villain Severus Snape in the Harry Potter movies. Though he played a convincing role as an evildoer, Emma Thompson told ABC News that he was anything but a dark soul. Thompson starred with Rickman in Love Actually and Sense and Sensibility. She kissed him goodbye the morning he passed, describing the moment as a “painful leave-taking.”
According to actress Dame Helen Mirren, the revered actor was a towering person, both physically and mentally as an artist. She said, “He was utterly distinctive, with a voice that could suggest honey or a hidden stiletto blade, and the profile of a Roman Emperor.” It was sad news to many that Rickman was saying his final goodbye.
His rich, deep voice was a bit of a trademark for the actor. Combined with his intelligence and humanity, he landed a wide spectrum of roles. It was his endless supply of frown and smirks, however, that endeared him to fans around the world. ABC reported on Rickman reminiscing about an old drama teacher of his who claimed his deep voice was like something that boomed from the back end of a drain pipe.
The response that Rickman gave him was priceless, reports ABC News. He explained that his voice was something he was stuck with. It was not like he could go and get another one. He could not hear what others heard from his vocal chords, so comments about his distinctive tone were always a bit of shock that never went away.
Independent News claimed Rickman may have suffered a small stroke in August before doctors diagnosed him with pancreatic cancer. He died three short months later. His friends and family said that the bleak diagnosis did not hold the actor back by any measure. During the last few months, he kept busy helping students raise money for the refugee crisis.
The charity film he helped the students make was his final performance. He agreed to star in a 30-second video by OneClickGiving that soon went viral. The December 15, 2015, film was intended to raise awareness and funds for the refugee crisis.
Weeks before his death, friends and neighbors described Rickman as smiling and looking well. According to ABC News, Rickman was well loved and respected. Although he has said his final goodbye, people will forever remember him in the roles he played.
By Rowena Portch
ABC News: Remembering Alan Rickman’s Most Beloved Movie Roles
The Telegraph: Alan Rickman dies: British giant of stage and screen dies of cancer aged 69 – latest
The Sydney Morning Herald: Alan Rickman: Daniel Radcliffe posts rare social media message to the late actor
Image Courtesy of Justin Hoch’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License