25 Facts You Should Know About Alan Rickman

Posted by , Updated on January 14, 2016

Only a few days after the loss of musical genius David Bowie, another shinning star from the world of entertainment died today. At the age of 69, Alan Rickman lost his battle with cancer and went on to a place of rest. The older generations probably remember him for portraying immoral and ruthless villains like Hans Gruber in Die Hard and Sheriff George of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, while the younger generations know him as Professor Severus Snape from the Harry Potter films. As one of the most admired British film actors of the past three decades, his roles and excellent acting skills gained him many fans all over the world while much of his work in the theater earned him critical acclaim and the respect of his colleagues. In the wake of his death, many fans have already expressed their grief on social media, sharing gifs or pictures of Rickman in his various iconic roles. Just as we did with David Bowie a few days ago, we’re remembering one of our favorite wizards with 25 Facts You Should Know About Alan Rickman, celebrating his memory and paying tribute to a gentleman on and off-screen.


He was an active patron of the charity Saving Faces and honorary president of the International Performers’ Aid Trust, a charity that alleviates poverty in some of the world’s toughest places.

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In case you don’t remember, Alan’s first major role, through which he was introduced to the American public, was as a bad guy named Hans Gruber, whose butt John McClane (Bruce Willis) kicked in Die Hard.

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When he was eight Rickman’s father died, leaving his mother to raise him and his three siblings.

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He was godfather to British actor Tom Burke, who you have probably seen in the film Only God Forgives, costarring Ryan Gosling.

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Before becoming an actor he studied graphic design at Chelsea College of Art and Design, as well as at the Royal College of Art. He even created a successful graphic design company named Graphiti with some of his friends, but after three years he decided to pursue acting professionally.

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He once stated that the first film he ever saw was Swiss Family Robinson and the film that changed his life and made him decide to become an actor was Nashville.

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Rickman took cello lessons for his part in the 1990 film Truly Madly Deeply, and while the right (bowing) hand was his, the left hand was that of a real cellist standing behind him with his arm through Rickman’s armpit.

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Rickman was in a relationship with his teenage sweetheart Rima Horton since 1965. After being in a relationship for forty-seven years they eventually got married in 2012.

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He didn’t have any children even though he stated he would have liked to have had a family. He decided against it because he wanted to respect his wife’s wish that they not have children.

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According to a 2012 interview he gave to astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson on the show StarTalk, Alan loved birds more than anything and was always fascinated by a flock of birds.

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Although he wasn’t known for his sex appeal, Rickman was chosen by Empire magazine in 1995 as number thirty-four on their list of the 100 Sexiest Stars in film history.

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His portrayal of Hans Gruber in Die Hard earned him a spot on the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Best Heroes/Villains as the forty-sixth best villain in film history.

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In 1995, he was awarded a Golden Globe, an Emmy, and a Screen Actors Guild Award for his portrayal of Rasputin in the TV film Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny. He had also previously won a BAFTA Award for his role in Robin Hood.

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For Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves 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.

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He pranked Daniel Radcliffe on the set of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. According to Radcliffe, Rickman planted one of those fart machines in his sleeping bag, and he waited until the camera would come in for a dramatic scene they were supposed to shoot, and then Alan unleashed this tremendous fart in the great hall, making everybody at the shoot cry from laughter.

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When he read the script of Snow Cake he proposed to the producers Sigourney Weaver for the role of Linda, having worked with her on Galaxy Quest. He even called Weaver and told her she had to read the script, as there was a role he felt she could play perfectly. She followed his advice and the rest is part of film history.

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He was Richard Curtis’s (the writer of the film) choice to play Charles in Four Weddings and a Funeral. Curtis was very hesitant in casting Hugh Grant as he had so wanted Rickman. However, the role not only went to Grant but was also the one that made him famous.

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He failed his California driving test the first time he tried for “driving too cautiously through a green light.”

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He was good friends with Adrienne Clarkson, Canada’s former governor general. Rickman used to say that Canada was like a second home to him.

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For the shot where Hans Gruber falls from the top of the building in Die Hard, Rickman was actually dropped by a stuntman from a twenty-foot-high model onto an air bag. To get a genuine surprised look, the stuntman dropped him on the count of two instead of three.

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He was the only one from the whole Harry Potter cast who knew his character’s fate before the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, because Rowling couldn’t keep any secrets from him.

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He was offered the role of Leonardo Leonardo in the 2000 cartoon based on Kevin Smith’s film Clerks. Originally, the character was modeled after Hans Gruber, but the design was changed at Rickman’s request. The studio decided not to go with Rickman, and the role went to Alec Baldwin.

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A 2008 research study conducted by linguist Andrew Linn, of Sheffield University, and sound engineer Shannon Harris, found the perfect male voice to be a combination of Rickman’s and fellow actor Jeremy Irons’s, based on a sample of fifty famous voices.

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Despite being author J. K. Rowling’s first choice to play Snape in the Harry Potter films (she actually admitted envisioning him when writing the character), he was only given the role in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone after Tim Roth, who was the studio’s favorite, turned down the role to star in Planet of the Apes.

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Although he became widely known thanks to the films he starred in, he would frequently turn down roles in popular films only so he could act in the theater, which he called his “first love.”

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SEE ALSO: 25 Insane Optical Illusions That Will Leave You Dazed And Confused »


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