Learning the news of Alan Rickman’s passing today made me stop and pause. Rickman, 69, star of stage and screen, who is probably best known for his role as Snape in the “Harry Potter” films, lost his life to that dreaded demon, cancer. Rickman’s ability to play a variety of roles left us eager to see who he would play next. From his brilliant portrayal of Snape in the “Harry Potter” series of films to the hurtful, unfaithful husband in “Love Actually,” Rickman consistently brought tenderness, realism, and the right balance of wickedness to the parts he played.
Rickman’s voice and delivery made him instantly recognizable. There was a resonating sensitivity he brought to his acting, which is why he was the perfect Colonel Brandon in “Sense and Sensibility,” a role he played opposite Kate Winslet. Brandon’s undying affection and love for Marianne Dashwood made us as viewers fall in love with him and desperately want her to gently fall for him instead of the dashing Mr. Willoughby. We are frustrated and want to shake Marianne and say, “But this man loves you!” and yet Brandon patiently waits for her to care for him on her own terms. His committed love for her—and Rickman’s portrayal of that love—made me an instant fan. Jane Austen herself would have been proud to watch Rickman, Winslet, and Emma Thompson bring her timeless and classic story to life on the screen.
As for Rickman’s portrayal of Snape, it is perfection. Snape’s love for Lily Potter remained unchanged for the duration of his life, even though she married James, Harry’s father. From the time they were small children, Snape was enamored with and loved Lily; unfortunately, though she cared for him, she did not love him as she did James. But Snape’s compassionate and heroic undying affection for Lily demonstrates a commitment to love that is extraordinary, and convinces us that sometimes you can love someone with all your heart even if you cannot be together. There is no one else who could have played Snape with the conviction of Rickman.
And so it is with a heavy heart that we must realize we will no longer see Rickman act out any more characters. I am grateful for the ones he will leave us with, but today Heaven gained a star and we lost one.