Alan Rickman: His five greatest non-villain roles

Why there was much more to the Brit actor than scenery-chewing villain roles.

Alan Rickman at the premiere for Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows - Part 2 in 2011
A legend gone There was more to Alan Rickman than great villain roles. Image Picture Ian Gavan/Getty Images

In the wave of Alan Rickman tributes following his death from cancer, most have highlighted his iconic villain roles.

Rickman terrorised Bruce Willis in Die Hard, made Kevin Costner’s life hell in Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves and provided suitably sinister opposition (before final-film redemption) for Daniel Radcliffe across the Harry Potter series.

But there was much more to Rickman than that. Sure, he was brilliant at moustache-twirling villainy and leaving teeth marks in the scenery – yet he was equally brilliant in roles that required a little more subtlety.

If you’re abiding memory of Rickman is him yelling “call off Christmas” in Robin Hood, then here are five must-see films that display a much lighter side.


 

1

Truly Madly Deeply (1990)

Rickman as a romantic lead? This actually happened. Soon after Die Hard, he signed up to play a cellist whose sudden death throws his partner (Juliet Stevenson) into turmoil. Rickman’s Jamie returns in spirit form, making this one of the most poignant films in his back catalogue. Anthony Minghella’s film is essentially Ghost with a touch of class.

2

Galaxy Quest (1999)

There was always a twinkle to Rickman’s villains and this Star Trek spoof showed he could do all-out comedy too. Rickman happily poked fun at his image, playing a classically trained Shakespearean actor forced to slum it on a cheap TV show. Galaxy Quest is a slow-burn cult hit and a sequel has been mooted for years now – but it won’t be the same without Rickman’s presence.

3

Dogma (1999)

Kevin Smith threw a curveball by casting Rickman in his controversial religious comedy Dogma. At that point, US audiences were more attuned to seeing him as a villain, but here he was acerbic and funny playing Metatron, an angel designated as the voice of God. Rickman tore through Smith’s script with relish, dishing out great one-liners like “there’s nothing funnier than the ridiculous faces you people make mid-coitus.”.

4

Sense and Sensibility (1995)

Rickman may not be the obvious choice to play a point in a love triangle, but in Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility his Colonel Brandon is vying for Kate Winslet’s affections with Greg Wise. Rickman bagged himself a BAFTA nomination and, with a performance this warm and charming, it’s easy to see why.

5

The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy

One of Rickman’s more idiosyncratic roles, the Douglas Adams adaptation cast him as the voice of Marvin The Paranoid Android. His incredible voice turned out to be the perfect fit for the clinically depressed robot shuttling around the starship Heart Of Gold. Some trivia: Rickman’s Harry Potter co-star Warwick Davis played the body of Marvin.

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Loaded digital media manager Simon Reynolds has written about film and entertainment for various leading websites since 2008. Follow Simon at @simonreyn

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