In Memoriam: Top 5 Alan Rickman Roles

Written by Jesse Gelinas January 16, 2016

Alan Rickman

RIP Alan Rickman

The performance world lost an icon this week. Alan Rickman, star of stage and screen has sadly died after a battle with cancer. He was 69. His career spanned almost forty years, and touched generations the world over. His iconic voice made him instantly recognizable to film fans young and old, and his trademark beleaguered demeanor brought life to numerous classic characters. To honour this acting titan, I’ve compiled a list of his best, most entertaining, most impressive, iconic film roles. RIP Alan Rickman. We’ll miss you.


Honourable Mention:

Alexander/Dr. Lazarus (Galaxy Quest, 1999)

Jamie (Truly Madly Deeply, 1990)


5. Colonel Brandon (Sense and Sensibility, 1995)

Alan Rickman as Colonel Brandon

“Give me an occupation, Miss Dashwood, or I shall run mad.”

This may be a role that most younger readers may not be familiar seeing Alan Rickman in; that of a handsome, charming suitor. Ang Lee’s 1995 adaptation of the Jane Austen classic is seen as pretty timeless twenty years later, and a wonderful cast of performances is partly to thank for that. Rickman’s Colonel Brandon may not be the dashing hero of the film, but he is engaging, likable, and infinitely sweet throughout, quite a departure from his usual roles. It is certainly one of the few times that Alan Rickman ever took on the mantle of “heartthrob.”


4. Sheriff of Nottingham (Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, 1991)

Alan Rickman as the Sheriff of Nottingham

“That’s it then. Cancel the kitchen scraps for lepers and orphans, no more merciful beheadings, and call off Christmas.”

This one is a personal favourite of mine. Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves is such a strange, polarizing film. It has such ridiculous, cringe-worthy elements (Kevin Costner’s “accent,” Christian Slater, etc). Yet, it has a lot of really great things going for it. The sets and costumes are great, the camerawork is… interesting. And it contains probably the most unhinged, no-fucks-given performance of Alan Rickman’s career. His murderous, psychotic Sheriff is unchained from is first scene, and gets crazier as the film progresses. Rickman accepted the role on the condition that he got to play it however he wanted, and is rumoured to have added a lot of his character’s dialogue in the script personally. He’s a wonderful, endlessly entertaining villain, who will cut our heart out and leave you asking: “Why a spoon?”


3. Metatron (Dogma, 1999)

Alan Rickman as The Metatron

“Tell a person you are the Metatron and they stare at you blankly. Mention something from a Charlton Heston movie and suddenly everybody’s a theology scholar. May I continue uninterrupted?”

Another look at Rickman’s comedic chops. Metatron is Herald of the Almighty, and Voice of the One True God. This seraphim (the highest choir of angels) makes a fiery entrance, which can be quickly ruined by reckless extinguisher use. He comes to Earth to see help in stopping a pair of renegade angels, who among other things, are responsible for God ruling angels can no longer drink alcohol. Alan Rickman is over the top, and absolutely hilarious as this depressed, disheveled angel who’s hoping to stop the end of existence. He adds a true touch of class to a film that also features a walking talking poop-monster.


2. Severus Snape (Harry Potter series, 2001-2011)

Alan Rickman as Severus Snape

“You better be careful. People will think you’re… up to something.”

This is where the words “iconic” and “Alan Rickman” really come together. Severus Snape is perhaps one of te most beloved literary characters of the modern age. He is equal parts terrifying and heartbreaking, sinister and vulnerable. And who better to bring this dark figure to life but Rickman? Severus Snape appears in all eight Harry Potter films, as grumpy antagonist, murderous villain, and reluctant savior. It is a tour de force performance that spanned a decade of films, and it will live on as one of Rickman’s most memorable and beloved roles for fans around the world.


1. Hans Gruber (Die Hard, 1988)

Alan Rickman as Hans Gruber

“Nice suit. John Phillips, London. I have two myself. Rumor has it Arafat buys his there. “

For the very best and most classic of Alan Rickman, we go to his first film appearance. Seriously, Die Hard was his FIRST movie. And in it he created one of the most entertaining and memorable villains in the history of action films– hell, even films in general. Hans Gruber may come off as pompous Eurotrash. But he’s actually a prolific terrorist! Wait, no, he’s a common thief. Actually, scratch that; he’s an exceptional thief! And he’s taking Nakatomi Plaza hostage to ruin Christmas and pull off one of the most clever and daring heists in American history. And all the while matching wits with resident badass John McClane. It is Rickman’s most well-known role (even more so than Snape, as everybody and their grandfather knows Die Hard), and his most long lasting, and for good reason.

Happy trails, Hans. We’ll miss you.

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About Jesse Gelinas

After years attempting to escape the Matrix, Jesse has accepted his fate as a writer and Senior Editor. Now that's he finished with his film degree, it gives him something to do while waiting for the machines to get careless.

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There are currently 1 Comment on In Memoriam: Top 5 Alan Rickman Roles. Perhaps you would like to add one of your own?

  1. For most millenials this is the ultimate Rickman role. The terrorist Hans Gruber only wanted $640 milllion, thats not too much to ask for now is it!

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