Alan Rickman’s death today at age 69 certainly comes as a surprise. Last June he was in New York promoting “A Little Chaos,” the film he directed with Kate Winslet. After the screening there was a buoyant party at the Monkey Bar, with a ton of his friends from past productions. Rickman invited actors he worked with going back to the 70s and 80s, and there was a lot of reminiscing. He didn’t seem ill, and we don’t know yet what his health was then.
It was only three years ago, not quite– February 2013– that I wrote about Rickman being signed by ICM Partners. He has always been hot– from his huge American debut on Broadway in 1987 in Les Liaisons Dangereuses to the first “Die Hard” to Anthony Minghella’s “Truly Madly Deeply.” Already well known in the UK, he took off here like a rocket and never looked back.
Of course, the “Harry Potter” movies changed everything. Alan was in New York a lot, and whenever I ran into him we used to joke that he did not like being called “Snape”– even by small children. After playing all sorts of tortured souls, suddenly he had a big following among kids who didn’t know anything of his career. It was sort of amusing. He went to a lot of New York theater, always loyal to friends. And it was a lovely evening last June when Beverly Penberthy, a former soap opera star, turned up at the “Chaos” dinner. He’d directed her 35 years ago, when she was on “Another World” on NBC, and they’d remained friends ever since.
No one turned a lip in disgust like Alan Rickman or sneered in a way that was comic and a little frightening. His acting was full of mischief, and kindness and great intelligence. This age– 69– is just way too young to leave the world. He will really, truly, madly, deeply be sorely missed.