Today, as a writer, I feel like the victim of an Expelliarmus spell. I’ve been disarmed. My words are gone. The ones that I still possess are jumbled in a fashion which makes sorting them seemingly impossible, but I will do my best. Alan Rickman has died today. A man of flesh and blood, like the rest of us, but a man of immeasurable talent, the likes of which the rest of us can only dream.
Today is the first day I’ve ever shed actual real tears for a famous person’s passing, but it seems my love for this man, who I never met, was real. And so, I find myself wondering – What was it about him that affected me?
Alan Rickman was a genius. His roles were many and varied, from U.S Presidents, to Irish Politicians, French kings and Russian Monks. He was a Shakespearean villain, a German villain, an English folklore villain and a villain, who wasn’t a villain at all. He was a robot, a caterpillar, a painter, a ghost, a hairdresser and he was the voice of God. He was a singing judge, a Colonel, a general, a lieutenant and a lord. He was a painter, but above all, he was an artist, just like me.
I would say he played all those roles, but he didn’t. He WAS all those roles, and many more. He possessed the magic somewhere inside him that allowed him to become those characters, and he had the courage to let it bring them to life.
We were not watching Alan Rickman play a part. We watched the Sherriff of Nottingham fail to defeat Robin Hood.
We saw Marvin, the paranoid android, help Arthur Dent save his planet, the corrupt judge Turpin relentlessly pursuing Sweeney Todd’s love, Joanna. We watched Rasputin’s madness, the gentle colonel Brandon waiting patiently for Marianne to see his love for her, the tired king Louis XIV and the heartbroken wizard, Severus Snape protecting Harry Potter under the guise of enemy.
To witness his brilliance gave me hope. Many of these characters emerged from the pages of fiction like mine and his care and respect for them gave me inspiration. It gave me the knowledge that the characters I create through my fiction can become real too, and that is a gift for which I will be forever grateful.
And then, there’s that voice. I once heard him describe it in an interview as “an accident of nature and the architecture of his mouth,” but an accident of nature would have been to bestow it on a person who would have no use for it. It was his, and his it will always be.
Thank you, Alan Rickman. May you rest in Peace.