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Rickman, Alan Biography




biography of Rickman, Alan

Alan Sidney Patrick Rickman
21 February 1946, Hammersmith, London, England, UK
6' 1"
Alan Sidney Patrick Rickman was born to Irish and Welsh parents on February 21, 1946. He attended the Royal College of Art; he wanted to be a graphic artist. At age 26, he won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art where he spent three years. He first came to America's attention in the theatrical version of "Dangerous Liaisons". His first major film was _Die Hard (1988)_ (qv), where he was cast as "Hans Gruber".
Kornel Osvart

Alan Rickman was born on a council estate in Acton, West London to Margaret (Welsh) and Bernard (Irish) Rickman. Alan has an older brother David, a younger brother Michael and a younger sister Sheila. When Alan was 8 years old, his father died. He attended Latymer Upper School on a scholarship. He studied Graphic Design at Chelsea College of Art and Design, where he met Rima Horton, who would later become his life partner. After three years at Chelsea College, Rickman did graduate studies at the Royal College of Art. He opened a successful graphics design business, Graphiti, with friends and ran it for several years before his love of theatre led him to seek an audition with the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA). At the relatively late age of 26, Rickman received a scholarship to RADA, which started a professional acting career that has lasted nearly 40 years, with no signs of stopping, a career which has spanned stage, screen and television and has lapped over into directing, as well. Rickman first came to the attention of American audiences as "Vicomte de Valmont" in "Les Liaisons Dangereuses" on Broadway in 1987 (he was nominated for a Tony Award for his performance in the role). Denied the role in the film version of the show, Rickman instead made his first movie appearance opposite 'Bruce Willis' (qv) in _Die Hard (1988)_ (qv) as the villain, "Hans Gruber". Rickman's take on the urbane villain set the standard for screen villains for decades to come. Though often cited as being a master of playing villains, Rickman has actually played a wide variety of characters, such as the romantic cello-playing ghost "Jamie" in 'Anthony Minghella' (qv)'s _Truly Madly Deeply (1990)_ (qv) and the noble "Colonel Brandon" of _Sense and Sensibility (1995)_ (qv). He's treated audiences to his comedic abilities with films like _Dogma (1999)_ (qv), _Galaxy Quest (1999)_ (qv) and _The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005)_ (qv), and roles like "Dr. Alfred Blalock" in _Something the Lord Made (2004) (TV)_ (qv) and "Alex Hughes" in _Snow Cake (2006)_ (qv), showcase his ability to play ordinary men in extraordinary situations. Rickman even conquered the daunting task of singing a part in a 'Stephen Sondheim' (qv) musical as he took on the part of "Judge Turpin" in the movie adaptation of _Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)_ (qv). In 2001, Rickman introduced himself to a whole new, and younger, generation of fans by taking on the role of "Severus Snape" in the movie versions of 'J.K. Rowling' (qv)'s _Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001)_ (qv). He has continued to play the role through the eighth and last movie _Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (2011)_ (qv).
Rosie Walker (walkerr@champmail.com)



-   Rich smooth voice

-   Often plays depressive intellectuals in heroic roles

-   Often plays intimidating personalities

-   Slow yet calm delivery


-   (1995) Chosen by Empire magazine as one of the 100 Sexiest Stars in film history (#34).

-   (October 1997) Ranked #59 in Empire (UK) magazine's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" list.

-   Has been in a relationship with Rima Horton since 1965. The pair share a home in London. Rima Horton has retired from her lecturing position, and lost her seat on the council she worked for in the local elections of May 2006.

-   Although a highly successful film actor, he has frequently passed up film offers to return to the theater. (A place and activity which he calls "magical" and his "first love".)

-   Nominated for Tony award as Best Actor for Broadway revival of "Private Lives", May 2002.

-   Was given the role of Professor Severus Snape in _Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001)_ (qv) only after 'Tim Roth (I)' (qv) backed out.

-   He became well-known to the American public with his performance as Hans Gruber in _Die Hard (1988)_ (qv).

-   Before becoming an actor, he studied graphic design at Chelsea College Of Art And Design and at the Royal College Of Art, forming a successful graphic design company, Graphiti, with several friends.

-   Named Best Stage Actor for his part in the acclaimed revival of the 'Noel Coward' (qv) play Private Lives at The Variety Club Show business Awards 2002.

-   Father died when he was 8 years old.

-   Is the second of four children in his family. He has an older brother, a younger brother, and a younger sister.

-   While filming _Die Hard (1988)_ (qv), was found proficient at mimicking American accents; a scene in which Hans Gruber and John McClane finally meet was then added to the script.

-   Made Vice-Chairman of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in 2003.

-   Was offered the role of Leonardo Leonardo in the 2000 cartoon based on 'Kevin Smith (I)' (qv)'s film _Clerks. (1994)_ (qv). Originally, the character was modeled after Hans Gruber, but the design was changed upon Rickman's request. The studio decided not to go with Rickman, and the role went to 'Alec Baldwin' (qv).

-   He was nominated for a 2002 'Laurence Olivier' (qv) Theatre Award for Best Actor of 2001 for his performance in "Private Lives" at the Albery Theatre, London.

-   He was nominated for a 2001 London Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Actor for his performance in Private Lives at the Albery Theatre.

-   For the shot where Hans Gruber falls from the top of the building in _Die Hard (1988)_ (qv), was actually dropped by a stuntman from a 20-foot high model onto an air bag. To get a genuine surprised look, the stunt man dropped him on the count of two instead of three.

-   In _Die Hard (1988)_ (qv), he is seen firing a gun only twice (in the atrium when Gruber realizes Holly is John's wife and the "shoot the glass" scene), due to his uncontrollable habit of flinching when the gun recoiled. In that scene he blinks just before the camera cuts.

-   Was voted #19 in Empire Magazine's Greatest Living Movie Stars over the age of 50.

-   Was active in raising funds for the Labour Party.

-   Was twice nominated for Broadway's Tony Award as Best Actor (Play): in 1987 for "Les Liaisons Dangereuses", and in 2002 for a revival of 'Noel Coward' (qv)'s "Private Lives".

-   Two of the Harry Potter films (so far) also feature 'Warwick Davis (I)' (qv) as Professor Flitwick. In _The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005)_ (qv), Rickman and 'Warwick Davis (I)' (qv) play the same part. 'Warwick Davis (I)' (qv) wore the robotic suit for Marvin, while Rickman provides the voice.

-   His portrayal of Hans Gruber in _Die Hard (1988)_ (qv) earned him a spot on the American Film Institute's list of the "100 Best Heroes/Villains" as the 46th best villain in film history.

-   Is good friends with 'Adrienne Clarkson' (qv), Canada's former Governor General. Rickman visited 'Adrienne Clarkson' (qv)'s Ottawa, Ontario home in May 2005.

-   Says Canada is like a second home.

-   Failed his California driving test at one point for "driving too cautiously through a green light"

-   Was twice nominated for an 'Laurence Olivier' (qv) Award as Best Actor (Play): in 1987 for "Les Liaisons Dangereuses," and in 2002 for a revival of 'Noel Coward' (qv)'s "Private Lives".

-   Good friend of 'Sharman MacDonald'.

-   He is 11 years older than 'Timothy Spall' (qv), 12 years older than 'Adrian Rawlins' (qv) and 'Gary Oldman' (qv), 17 years older than 'David Thewlis' (qv), and 21 years older than 'Geraldine Somerville' (qv). Nevertheless, the character that the six of them play in the Harry Potter films are meant to be contemporaries and former classmates.

-   Was 'J.K. Rowling' (qv)'s personal favorite to play "Severus Snape".

-   Auditioned for 'Chris Barrie' (qv)'s character "Rimmer" in _"Red Dwarf" (1988)_ (qv).

-   Godfather of 'Tom Burke (IV)' (qv).

-   Was 'Richard Curtis (I)' (qv)'s choice to play Charles in _Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)_ (qv). Curtis was very hesitant in casting 'Hugh Grant (I)' (qv) as he had so wanted Rickman.

-   Read the script of _Snow Cake (2006)_ (qv) and suggested 'Sigourney Weaver' (qv) for the role of Linda, having worked with her on _Galaxy Quest (1999)_ (qv). He even telephoned Weaver, and told her she had to read the script, as there was a role he felt she could play perfectly in it.

-   'Angela Pell' (qv) stated at the Berlinale Press Conference, that she wrote the role of _Snow Cake (2006)_ (qv)'s Alex Hughes with him in mind. The character's name in the script was "Alan", and it was Rickman who suggested the change to Alex.

-   The script of _Galaxy Quest (1999)_ (qv) originally contained a mention of Alexander Dane having been knighted by Queen Elizabeth. He asked that this be changed because he believed it was inconsistent with the character, and all mentions of the knighting were removed. However, the character is still listed in the credits as "Sir Alexander Dane".

-   For _Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)_ (qv), he turned down the role of the Sheriff twice before he was told he could more or less have carte-blanche with his interpretation of the character.

-   Had cello lessons for his part in _Truly Madly Deeply (1990)_ (qv), and while he handles the right (bowing) hand, the left hand is provided by a real cellist standing behind him with his arm through Alan Rickman's armpit.

-   For his death plunge down the side of the skyscraper in _Die Hard (1988)_ (qv), he actually dropped 20 feet onto an airbag against a green screen. Director 'John McTiernan (I)' (qv) had to jump first to convince Rickman to do it.

-   Chosen by Empire Magazine as one of the 100 Sexiest Stars in film history (#83). [2007].

-   Was best man at the wedding of 'Dexter Fletcher (I)' (qv) and 'Dalia Ibelhauptaite' (qv).

-   Shared a house with 'Ruby Wax' (qv) in London in the early 80s.

-   Featured twice in Times Online's "The 50 Best Movie Villains" chart: had the 41st position for his role as the Sheriff of Nottingham in _Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)_ (qv) and the 10th as Hans Gruber in _Die Hard (1988)_ (qv).

-   Not long after Alan Rickman started to play Severus Snape in the first Potter movie (released in 2001), J.K. Rowling told Rickman some character secrets about Snape that would not be otherwise revealed until the last book. Most significantly, for over seven years, Rickman was one of the very few people other than Rowling to know (years ahead of the last book's publication) that Snape had been in love with Lily Evans (later Potter) when they were students at Hogwarts, and both Snape's protection of and antagonism toward Harry came from that. Rowling said that she shared this information with Rickman because "he needed to understand, I think, and does completely understand and did completely understand where this bitterness towards this boy, who's living proof of [Lily's] preference for another man, came from".

-   Voted #8 on Empire Online's list of 50 Sexiest Movie Men. 52% of readers voted that he should have been higher on the list. [Oct 2009].

-   Attended the funeral of 'Natasha Richardson' (qv).


-   Appears in videoclip 'In Demand' from Texas (2000).

-   Starred as "Elyot" in 'Noel Coward' (qv)'s play, "Private Lives", at the Albery Theatre in London's West End from Thursday 4 October until Sunday 6 January 2002. The Howard Davies production also starred 'Lindsay Duncan (I)' (qv), 'Emma Fielding' (qv) and 'Adam Godley' (qv).

-   Performed on 'Mike Oldfield' (qv)'s CD "Tubular Bells II" (1992), credited as the Master of Ceremonies under the pseudonym "A Strolling Player". Rickman announces the various instruments which Oldfield introduces on track 7, "The Bell".

-   (April 2002): Plays Elyot in "Private Lives" play by 'Noel Coward' (qv) (Richard Rodgers Theater, New York City, New York, USA).

-   Starring as Elyot in 'Noel Coward' (qv)'s "Private Lives" on Broadway (April 2002)

-   Commitments and The Last Elephant (Bush), The Devil Himself (Lyric Studio), Bad Language (Hampstead), Hamlet (Riverside Studios and U.K. tour)

-   For the Royal Court: The Seagull, The Grass Widow, The Lucky Chance.

-   For the Royal Shakespeare Company: The Tempest, Love's Labour's Lost, Antony and Cleopatra, Captain Swing, Troilus and Cressida, As You Like It, Mephisto, Les Liaisons Dangereuses (also West End and Broadway). For the Royal National Theatre: Antony and Cleopatra.

-   For the Edinburgh Festival: The Devil Is an Ass and Measure for Measure (also Birmingham, Royal National Theatre and European tour), Brothers Karamozov (also Russia and Georgia)

-   He played Elyot in Private Lives in 2003 on Broadway, in New York City.

-   Directed the Sharman MacDonald play "The Winter Guest" at both the West Yorkshire Playhouse and the Almeida Theatre (London, England).

-   (April 2006): Directed "My Name Is Rachel Corrie" play taken from the writings of Rachel Corrie he co-edited with Katharine Viner (Playhouse Theatre, London, England, UK).

-   Read the Audio book "The Return of the Native" by Thomas Hardy.

-   Acted in the music video for Texas' single In Demand.

-   (1978) He acted in William Shakespeare's play, "The Tempest," in a Royal Shakespeare Company production at the Royal Shakespeare Company Theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon, England with Michael Hordern, David Suchet, Ian Charleson, and Richard Griffiths in the cast. Clifford Williams was director.

-   (1978) He acted in William Shakespeare's play, "Antony and Cleopatra," in a Royal Shakespeare Company production at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon, England with Alan Howard, Glenda Jackson, Jonathan Pryce, Patrick Stewart, David Suchet, Paola Dionisotti, Juliet Stevenson, and Richard Griffiths in the cast. Peter Brook was director.

-   (1978) He acted in William Shakespeare's play, "Love's Labour's Lost," in a Royal Shakespeare Company production at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon, England with Ian Charleson, Jane Lapotaire, Michael Hordern, Richard Griffiths, Paul Whitworth, Michael Pennington, Carmen Du Sautoy, Ruby Wax, Paul Brooke, and David Suchet in the cast. John Barton was director.

-   (1985) He acted in William Shakespeare's play, "As You Like It," in a Royal Shakespeare Company production at the Royal Shakepeare Theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon, England with Hilton McRae, Juliet Stevenson, Fiona Shaw, and Nicky Henson in the cast. Adrian Noble was director.

-   (1985) He acted in William Shakespeare's play, "Troilus and Cressida," in a Royal Shakespeare Company production at the Royal Shakepeare Theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon, England with Anton Lesser and Juliet Stevenson in the cast. Howard Davies was director.

-   (1986) He acted in Adrian Mnouchkine, Klaus Mann, and Timberlake Wertenbaker's play, "Mephisto," in a Royal Shakespeare Company production at the Barbican Theatre in London, England with Fiona Shaw in the cast. Adrian Noble was director.

-   Les Liaisons Dangereuses (1987). Drama. Written by 'Christopher Hampton (I)' (qv). From the novel by 'Choderlos de Laclos' (qv). Incidental music by 'Ilona Sekacz' (qv). Directed by Howard Davies. Music Box Theatre: 30 Apr 1987- 23 Mar 1987 (149 performances + 8 previews that began on 21 Apr 1987). Cast: Jean Anderson (as "Madame de Rosemonde"), 'Lucy Aston' (qv) (as "Émilie, a courtesan"), 'Suzanne Burden' (qv) (as "La Présidente de Tourvel"), 'Michael Dansicker' (qv) (as "Harpsichord"), Lindsay Duncan (as "La Marquise de Merteuil"), 'Beatie Edney' (qv) (as "Cécile Volanges"), 'Barry Heins' (qv) (as "Major-domo"), 'Hilton McRae' (qv) (as "Le Chevalier Danceny"), 'Kristin Milward' (qv) (as "Madame de Volanges"), 'Alan Rickman' (qv) (as "Le Vicomte de Valmont") [Broadway debut], Hugh Simon (as "Azolan, Valmont's valet de chambre"). Produced by James M. Nederlander, The Shubert Organization (Gerald Schoenfeld: Chairman. Bernard B. Jacobs: President), Jerome Minskoff, Elizabeth I. McCann and Stephen Graham. Produced in association with Jonathan Farkas. Produced by arrangement with The Royal Shakespeare Company (Terry Hands, Artistic Director). Associate Producer: Sylvia Brennick. Note (1): Filmed as _Dangerous Liaisons (1988)_ (qv). Note (2): Music Box Theatre owned and operated by 'Irving Berlin (I)' (qv) [who had no direct involvement in this production] and The Shubert Organization (Gerald Schoenfeld: Chairman. Bernard B. Jacobs: President).


-   I do take my work seriously and the way to do that is not to take yourself too seriously.

-   On longtime partner Rima Horton: "I think every relationship should be allowed to have its own rules. She's tolerant. She's incredibly tolerant. Unbelievably tolerant. Possibly a candidate for sainthood."

-   I have a love-hate relationship with white silk.

-   I do feel more myself in America. I can regress there, and they have roller-coaster parks.

-   On not being a father: "I love to travel and I don't have children, so there is a certain freedom."

-   If you spend any time in Los Angeles, there's only one topic of conversation.

-   Los Angeles is not a town full of airheads. There's a great deal of wonderful energy there.

-   I love America because whenever I go home -- there's something about England and coming from England-- but as soon as you walk down the steps of the plane you shrink. And you have to start saying "sorry" and being polite and curtsying and things like that... America just lets me be the klutz I really am.

-   I approach every part I'm asked to do and decide to do from exactly the same angle: who is this person, what does he want, how does he attempt to get it, and what happens to him when he doesn't get it, or if he does?


-   (December 2003) Filming for _Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)_ (qv), due to release on June 4, 2004.

-   (April 2004) Filming _Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005)_ (qv).

-   (July 2005) Filming the movie _Snow Cake (2006)_ (qv).

-   (March 2006) Portland, Oregon: Reading lines from 'My Name Is Rachel Corrie,' the play he wrote with Katherine Viner about Rachel Corrie who died in 2003 when she was killed by a bulldozer during a protest at the Gaza strip.

-   (January 2008) Filming _Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)_ (qv).

-   (February 2008) Filming _Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009)_ (qv) in Gloucester, England.

-   (June 2011) London, England: Filming _Gambit (2012/I)_ (qv) with 'Colin Firth' (qv) and 'Cameron Diaz' (qv).

-   (September 2011) New York, USA: Set to star on Broadway in Rebeck, Theresa's new comedy 'Seminar,' also starring with O'Connell, Jerry.


-   "Premiere" (USA), January 1998, Vol. II, Iss. 5, pg. 42, by: Simon Brennan, "Winter" Games"

-   "Premiere" (UK), 1995, Vol. 3, Iss. 4, pg. 64-69, by: Duncan Fallowell


-   "Scotland on Sunday" (UK), 30 July 2006, by: Jackie McGlone, "A man for all seasons"

-   "Vox" (Hungary), December 2001, Iss. 56, pg. 129, "Színészlexikon"

-   "The Sunday Independent" (UK), 28 October 2001, by: Matthew Sweet, "Alan Rickman: Beguiling monster who made Cherie weak at the knees"

-   "Empire" (UK), October 1997, Iss. 100, pg. 198 by: Ian Freer and Jake Hamilton, "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time"

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