Alan Rickman, at 69, has left us. Alan, a giant figure in British screen and stage was also extremely popular for his baddy roles as Sheriff of Nottingham, as Rasputin and as Hans Gruber, adversary of Bruce Willis in Die Hard.
For me however, Alan Rickman will always be in my memory as the inscrutable Professor Severus Snape. This is because Snape played an important part in the early childhood and growing up into teens of my elder daughter and he was part of a magical journey of several years we took together, throughout the Harry Potter series of books and movies. This being a pleasant memory, I will briefly take you all through it. Very briefly, since this Harry Potter journey of Dad and kid daughter I would like to write a separate blog post in itself.
The journey began one pleasant evening in the year 2004 in Darjeeling where my wife, 6 year young daughter and myself had gone to spend a few days. Walking across Mall Road (all Hill stations of India have a Mall Road) we came across someone we knew in Kolkata, a pleasant lady from Israel named Mrs Cohen. She was Executive Assistant to a most dynamic CEO I knew and had worked with too. This was the 1st time she saw my daughter and instantly took a liking to her. Among her 1st questions to her were “Do you read Harry Potter?” On hearing “not yet”, she took my daughter to Oxford Bookstore, Darjeeling and presented her the 1st book of the series. Thereby Mrs Cohen introduced her to a magical world which had so many interesting characters including Professor Severus Snape. The books came first and the movies later and both were interwoven into each other, adding to each other’s charms.
If one word comes to mind again and again while thinking about Snape, it has to be the word ‘Inscrutable’. The character itself was imaginably complex. Only a wonderfully gifted actor could have portrayed such an incredibly complex role and Alan Rickman played it to perfection. Imagine the diverse range of emotions he had to portray. Lost Love, Unrequited love, Scorn, hatred, anger, pathos, sadness, sorrow and more. Snape had to show all of this and Rickman did it with aplomb. His was a character which developed more and more with each book (and each movie) and became more and more complex. Finally in classic JK Rowling style, everything was explained and Rickman was the person, the actor who did it with consummate ease. After intense deliberation, however, I think I would like to correct myself- Alan Rickman did not just play Severus Snape, he was Severus Snape.
One thing more I just have to say regarding our journey was that my daughter and I used to have theories about the next Harry Potter Book coming up and later after the Book was released we used to compare and tick how many of the theories were correct and how many were wrong. Astonishingly and almost unbelievably we got what we had thought was a far fetched theory of Professor Snape and his relationship with Professor Dumbledore and Harry Potter correct.
Today he left us. By the way Its coincidence that in the same week another great exponent David Bowie died in the same age of the same dreaded disease. Rest in peace , David Bowie.
Since this is a tribute to Rickman it will not be complete without quoting 2 persons irrevocably linked to him. Here goes-
Tribute of Daniel Radcliffe- “Rickman was one of the greatest actors I will ever work with as well as one of the loyalist and most supportive people I’ve ever met in the film industry”
Tribute of JK Rowling- “There are no words to express how shocked and devastated I am to hear of Alan Rickman’s death. He was a magnificent actor and a wonderful man”.
I have to mention that apart from the baddy roles and Professor Snape, Rickman also played a memorable role in a supernatural romance “Truly, madly, Deeply”. He had 3 important roles with Emma Thompson in two movies “Sense and Sensibility” and “Love Actually” and also in a BBC Drama “The Song of Lunch”. He will go down in history as one of the most compelling talents to grace his work on Stage. You will always be in our memory Alan. I am sure that right now too you are performing on Stage and that too wonderfully well in your Life after Death.
Coming back to Snape, the best tribute to Rickman as an actor is that he was the only person whom JK Rowling had given a hint of information about Snape as a double agent even before he appeared on camera. Remember, when the movie started only 3 books had been written and no one knew how the journey would unfold. That was the trust she had in him as she wanted him to get into the complexity of the character. Which he did with panache by becoming the character.
Rest in Peace, Half Blood Prince.