Books & Quotes · Reviews.

Madly, Deeply – Alan Rickman Diaries

When Alan Rickman was in his 40s, he appeared in two roles that proved life changing for him. And if you have followed his career, you definitely know them.

One was the criminal mastermind in the thriller of 1988 Die Hard where he portrayed Hand Gruber, a terrorist who has seized control of a Los Angeles skyscraper and taken hostages. He starred alongside Bruce Willis and audiences were captivated by his talent whose interpretation of a psychopath stole the show. As a New Yorker critic noted later ”As portrayed by Rickman, Gruber seems to possess a strange fatalism, as if he expect to lose, and to die, all along”.

The second role was that of the similarly devilish Sheriff of Nottingham in 1991’s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves alongside Kevin Costner and Morgan Freeman.

Rickman went on to play many characters over the years and appeared by the side of numerous famous actors of his time. One of the most prominent roles he took on was that of Professor Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series. In all his roles he was an actor magnetic in his menace and fury.

But if there’s one thing a reader will understand through his recently published diaries it’s that he was not one to bask in his successes. On the contrary, despite the doors that his first roles opened for him, the films are tetchily referenced. This is partly because Rickman did not regard them as his finest work.

The diaries cover a period of 22 years, beginning in 1993 and ending in December 2015 with his last diary entry before his passing some weeks after at the age of 69. Through his writing and notes, one will see him during the height of his career.

From the outside, Alan Rickman’s life appears exhausting. Full of rehearsals, film screenings, theatre visits, ceremonies, house purchases and dashes to catch planes for various locations and purposes. However, one will also come across the quiet days and the casual dining outs with colleagues and more often his friends and his partner.

In general, the tone of the diaries is gossipy and amusing but also irritable and anxious. There are numerous depictions of his colleagues and comments about them only someone with such a strong opinion would put down in paper. Rickman was a loyal man and generous. He was a devoted friend and blown away by the talents of many, especially of Emma Thompson’s with whom he appeared in a couple of films over time. Of course, external events are contemplated, such as elections, deaths and more.

The book is not for everyone to read. Although an easy read, it depends on the tolerance one has for actors and their fascinating life.

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