It’s odd how attached you can become to people you’ve never met and whose paths you’re never likely to cross. Yet when a celebrity dies, we often mourn them as if they were one of our own.
It’s been a sad week in terms of beloved figures, what with the untimely passing of David Bowie and Alan Rickman. The idea of Bowie being mortal after all was mind-blowing, and the subsequent public outpouring of tributes, anecdotes and memories was extremely moving (some wonderful pieces here). Clearly, many peoples’ lives have been shaped and defined by him.
Personally, I was very saddened by the news about Rickman. I was sitting alone in a café, forced to share a table with strangers because it was heaving, and was scrolling through the news headlines on my phone when I saw the headline. I was so shocked by it that it took me a minute to realise I was talking aloud to myself while the totes young girls sitting next to me looked on in bemusement. I considered putting it in context for them by explaining that Snape was dead, but realised it would just consolidate the batty old lady impression they were already forming.
I can’t say Alan Rickman was my favourite actor, any more than I could say Bowie was my favourite singer, but he was certainly up there. Seeing his name on a cast list always assured me that I was going to enjoy at least part of what I was about to see. In truth, he made his fair share of duds – I’m talking about you, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and you, Dogma – but always managed to be absolutely bloody brilliant in them. And in a good film – Sense & Sensibility, Michael Collins and An Awfully Big Adventure, to name but a few – he always shone.
As Severus Snape, he brought both menace and pathos to the Harry Potter films. In Galaxy Quest, he balanced dignity and buffoonery. His top bloke boss in Love Actually was so likeable it made his eventual betrayal of the fragrant Emma Thompson all the worse.
I have a particular soft spot for his portrayal of Colonel Brandon in Sense & Sensibility. Below is a short scene that is a masterclass in conveying a multitude without uttering a single word. Farewell, Mr Rickman, I hope you’ve found your pub.