Here I am, sitting in McCarran airport in Las Vegas, listening to what I swear is a loop of “Viva Las Vegas” interspersed with cheesy ads and punctuated by the gentle clicking and occasional chiming of slot machines, pondering the purpose of life, and how to live it well. Because the earth was robbed of two beautiful people this week.
David Bowie: his music was excellent. I personally loved his wild fashion the most out of all his contributions to the world. I am sad that he is gone. But his death was like hearing about the death of a best friend’s relative. I care because it makes people in my life sad.
But Alan Rickman. I got the news on my way to the airport, and my blood filled immediately with a dizzy sickness that had nothing to do with riding in the backseat of a shuttle van.
That was like hearing about my own uncle dying. My heart feels bound by darkness so tight it can barely beat.
I’m obviously deeply enthralled by Alan’s portrayal of Professor Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series. But it was Galaxy Quest where I first saw him. The juxtaposition between those two roles will show you exactly how spectacular of an actor Alan Rickman was.
Including Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility and the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Alan surprised me in every role I ever saw him in. I’d want to see something just because he was in it, just to see what he’d pull off this time. When watching him, I was aware that he was Alan Rickman, but at the same time so swallowed up in the character I’d have to remind myself that this man was other than what I was seeing on screen in the moment.
A few years ago I went to New York with my sister for her birthday. Alan was there, playing in Seminar on Broadway, just around the corner from our hotel. I thought about dropping our plans and however much money it took to see him. But I thought, I’ll just see him the very next chance I get. A thought that pierces like a dagger now.
As obsession with Harry Potter as well as film school in Britain permitted, I started getting to know Alan (through research) as a human being beyond his acting. And everything I discovered about him was admirable and inspiring. I love this quote from Emma Thompson (another actor I adore) about him, printed in The Guardian today:
To get right down to it, actors like Alan are the reason I love British film so much, why I wanted to study film there instead of in Hollywood, why I care so much more about telling a good story than making any money ever. In his own beautifully-spoken words:
Alan Rickman, thank you for giving this world everything you had. I will do my best to keep your legend and legacy going.
And to push you over the final edge of feels:
In eleven years, someone remind me to re-read Harry Potter in Alan’s honour. You will be missed. Always.