Alan Rickman exploded, rather literally, onto the big screen in 1988 as the magnificent Hans Gruber in Die Hard. He had enjoyed a successful career on stage and television before this and his arrival in the movies came relatively late in his career.
Famous for playing baddies, notably Snape in the Harry Potter series, he was also comfortable in lighter roles including the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Dogma and Love Actually. And then there’s the middle ground. His portrayal of the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood brought humor to a delightfully evil character.
Sadly, Netflix only have six of his movies but it is worth listing them as a tribute to this great actor. RIP.
Galaxy Quest 1999
This is a comedy in which Alan Rickman, Tim Allen and Sigourney Weaver are TV space characters who suddenly have to become the real thing. The film is a clever science fiction spoof and also works as a fine action-adventure film. The dialogue is brilliant, full of quotable quotes. Watch it over and over.
Blow Dry 2001
A comedy about hairdressing? Whatever next. Blow Dry is one of those grown up British comedies that work on a much higher level than much of the banality that emerges from America. Stacked with big names (Natasha Richardson, Rachel Griffiths, Rachael Leigh Cook, Josh Hartnett, Bill Nighy, Warren Clarke, Hugh Bonneville and Heidi Klum to name but a few) Blow Dry is an uplifting film which continues right through the credits.
Bottle Shock 2008
And then a comedy about wine. Set in 1970s California, Bottle Shock is loosely, very loosely, based in truth. The French are up against the wine growers of the Napa valley and Alan Rickman’s portrayal of the Parisian sommelier is up there with his finest comedy performances. Another movie worthy of multiple viewings.
Gambit was rather underestimated as a movie on its release. The mix of British and American casting is contrived and the telling of the plot before it happens just so it can go wrong is formulaic. The humour in the movie is far more subtle than laugh-out-loud and this is why it works. As a remake of the 1996 movie starring Shirley MacLaine, Michael Caine, Herbert Lom, Gambit is not without merit.
The Butler 2013
Another true story, this time a biography of Cecil Gaines who served eight US Presidents as a butler in the White House. With eight presidents and their entourages to cover, the cast list is huge. Alan Rickman plays Ronald Reagan beside Jane Fonda as Nancy Reagan. If we tell you that Robin Williams plays Dwight D Eisenhower, you’ll get the idea. This is not a major Rickman role but, as a deeply moving piece of work, we recommend the Butler.
CBGB was a New York club that became the birthplace of underground rock ‘n roll and punk. Hilly Kristal was the proprietor played by Alan Rickman. Blondie, Television, The Ramones, Talking Heads, Dead Boys and The Police all played at CBGB and the movie consequently moves apace. As a docupic of events at the time, this is a nice piece of work.