I don’t usually weigh in on these events, other than a short RIP, but this time, I can’t resist. Since 1988 and Die Hard, Alan Rickman has been a personal idol of mine. A chameleon of the first order, he truly disappeared into his characters, but still retained that characteristic bite that only he could bring. For a while, he was the “bad guy duJour”, chewing lines and stealing scenes from the most popular heroes in cinema and television. Eventually, Gary Oldman replaced him as Hollywood’s go-to “heavy”, but (for me) never brought the same levels of either commitment or fun to those roles. Much as I loved every role he played (even when the movies themselves weren’t exactly special), it was Rickman’s virtuoso turn as the titular Rasputin in the 1996 HBO movie that proved to me his inestimable versatility.
As an artist, especially as an artist who works pretty much exclusively in black and white, I have also and always been captivated by Alan Rickman’s face. Bright and manic in his youth, age brought depth and solemnity to feature which I have ever loved to sketch. Only Audrey Hepburn and DeForest Kelley had faces which so captured my imagination. This is a human as humans were intended to look; flawed, frail, and weighted with immense dignity. SO much fun to sketch, and so very challenging to do justice to.
Alan Rickman will be missed by the world for his contributions to film and to popular culture mostly for his perfection in the role of Professor Severus Snape in the eight Harry Potter movies, and his colleagues will doubtless fill social media with praise and tears over the next few days. But I will miss Alan Rickman for my own, very personal reasons. I won’t mourn him, for I don’t embrace the concept of death as tragic but as progression and growth. But I will miss him, as a beloved rose bush is missed when it finally ceases to bloom.
I thank you, Alan Rickman, for your contributions to theatre, film, and popular culture. Mostly, I thank you for thrilling me, scaring me, making me hate you, and sitting (all unbeknownst to you) interminably for countless portraits. I will miss you.