8 Things You Didn’t Know About Alan RickmanPublished on January 14, 2016. Updated April 29, 2019
Alan Rickman was one of Britain’s most celebrated actors, who forever changed the expectations of an action movie villain after his performance as Hans Gruber in the first Die Hard. From his time as a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company to his numerous outstanding and award-winning big-screen roles, it isn’t surprising everyone sings his praises. Saying goodbye to an icon is always hard, but after a battle with cancer and his death at 69 years old, Rickman will always be fondly remembered not only for his acting abilities but the man he was off-screen. Check out 8 Things You Didn’t Know About Alan Rickman.
8. Missed Roles
Alan Rickman mastered any role from theatre to television to film, and as such many producers and directors wanted Rickman as part of their projects. Like many other actors, Rickman often had to choose one role over the other and as it turns out he was originally cast as the voice of Lord Farquaad in the animated film Shrek, as even animated he would have made the perfect villain. Luckily he turned it down however to portray Snape in Harry Potter and was replaced by John Lithgow.
7. Numerous Honors
Alan Rickman has won many awards for his acting including a BAFTA Awrd, Golden Globe, People’s Choice, Primetime Emmy, a SAG award and so many more; however he has been recognized in the media in many other ways. In 1995 he was ranked at No. 34 on Empire‘s 100 Sexiest Stars in Film History, and was once again chosen for the list in 2009 and 2010, ranking 8th both times. He has also been listed as on of the Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time and came in at 19 on Empire‘s Greatest Living Movie Stars Over the Age of 50.
After graduating from the Chelsea College of Art and Design and then the Royal College of Art, he began working as a graphic artist because it was more stable than acting. “Drama school wasn’t considered the sensible thing to do at 18,” he once stated. Rickman and some friends even opened their own graphic design studio called Graphiti and even after its success he decided to finally pursue acting.
5. Die Hard or Fall Hard?
For the scene where his character Hans Gruber falls from the top of the building in Die Hard, Rickman was actually dropped 20 feet onto an air bag. As it turns out the stuntman actually dropped Rickman on the count of two instead of three while filming to get a genuine look of surprise on his face seen in the film.
4. Love of His Life
In Hollywood, a lasting relationship is rare, but of course Rickman beat the odds. Back in 1965 at the young age of 19, Rickman first met 18-year-old Rita Horton who then became his first girlfriend. The pair never looked back and began living together in 1977. The pair secretly wed in 2012 in New York City which Rickman did not confirm until 2015. They remained together for the almost 51 years until his death.
3. The Harry Potter Secret
While Alan Rickman has been responsible for many iconic roles, one of his biggest was his portrayal of Severus Snape for ten years and eight movies of the Harry Potter franchise. As it turns out, Rickman kept Snape’s secret long before J.K. Rowling published it in The Deathly Hallows. When he began preparing for the role Rickman consulted Rowling, and she told him in confidence the character’s true role in the series masked by his villain exterior. Of course Rickman had to keep the information to himself, “It was quite amusing, too, because there were times when a director would tell Alan what to do in a scene and he would say something like, ‘No I can’t do that– I know what is going to happen and you don’t.'” producer David Heyman once stated.
2. Perfect Voice
Rickman’s signature tone/voice is just one of his many claims to fame and as such, two researchers, one a linguist and one a sound engineer, did studies in 2008 that found “the perfect male voice” was in fact a combination of Rickman’s as well as actor Jeremy Irons.
1. Loves Canada
Rickman also spoke fondly of Canada and referred to it as his second home. He once said one of his favorite experiences in the country was taking the VIA train between Jasper and Vancouver. “It was wonderful, everybody should do that. We had 24 hours in the Rockies and then took a float plane to Tofino and Sooke Harbour.”