He’s been glorified for years as a top rated villain in the film industry but Alan Rickman’s career spans over three decades with a colorful resume from Die Hard and Galaxy Quest to Sweeney Todd and the Harry Potter franchise. In celebration of the last installment, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, we’re taking a look back at some of Rickman’s most notable roles.
Die Hard (1988)
When NYPD officer John McClane (Bruce Willis) comes to L.A. to reunite with his estranged wife, he has no idea her office holiday party would turn out quite so...dangerous. Armed robber Hans Gruber (Rickman) captures McClane's wife and other hostages in an attempt to steal millions of dollars. Rickman's portrayal of Gruber earned him a spot on AFI's 100 years...100 Heroes & Villains as the 46th best villain in film history.
Closet Land (1991)
Closet Land is meant to tear your psyche apart. The film features only two actors: Madeleine Stowe, a children’s book author accused of introducing anarchism to kids, and Rickman, who plays a ruthless interrogator. In fact, Rickman’s character's use of brutal and inhumane torture to coerce confessions is so off the charts that the human rights organization Amnesty International served as consultants for the film.
Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991)
Rickman gives life to another ruthless character in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. He plays the Sheriff of Nottingham, who kills Robin Hood’s father and rules the land with the help of his men. His performance as the Sheriff of Nottingham also put him on the map as one of the best actors to portray a villain in films.
An Awfully Big Adventure (1994)
An Awfully Big Adventure turns out to be an awfully twisted tale. Alan Rickman plays P.L. O’Hara, a brilliant actor who returns to a small theater company to play Captain Cook for its Christmas production of Peter Pan. He meets a young novice actress to whom he’s inexplicably drawn. They embark in an affair but when the young girl admits her love for another man, O’Hara investigates her past only to find out she’s his long lost daughter! Ouch!
Sense and Sensibility (1995)
There’s something about a strong, persistent and charming man in a uniform that ultimately wins over the ladies. Although he’s known for playing unattractive characters, Rickman proves he's got game. He plays Col. Christopher Brandon, who believe it or not, wins over Kate Winslet in Sense and Sensibility.
This fantasy comedy has an A-list ensemble including Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Salma Hayek, Chris Rock and even Alanis Morissette, but it’s Rickman who pretty much steals the show as Metatron the Voice of God. The film follows two fallen angels on the verge of destroying all of existence.
Galaxy Quest (1999)
It doesn’t get weirder or funnier than Galaxy Quest, featuring Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver and Rickman as has-been actors from a Star Trek-like television series called Galaxy Quest. Rickman plays Dr. Lazarus, an an uber intelligent, Spockian alien. In the words of Dr. Lazarus, "By Grabthar's hammer, by the suns of Warvan, you shall be avenged!"
Harry Potter Franchise (2001-2011)
And avenge he did! Two years after the release of Galaxy Quest he got cast as Severus Snape in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, in what would become his most recognized role worldwide. He flawlessly becomes the primary antagonist as a sinister potions master and has appeared in all seven novels of the series. But author J.K. Rowling considers him one of the most important characters and doesn’t reveal his true loyalties until the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007)
In 2007, Rickman appeared in the critically acclaimed Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street directed by Tim Burton, alongside Johnny Depp and Harry Potter co-stars Helena Bonham Carter and Timothy Spall. He of course played the evil Judge Turpin.
Alice in Wonderland (2010)
Rickman last year joined another Tim Burton production, Disney’s Alice in Wonderland, as the voice of the Blue Caterpillar. Caterpillar serves as the voice of wisdom that ultimately encourages Alice to fight the Jabberwocky, whom she manages to kill. And, yes, he’s a hookah smoker.