Like most other people of a certain age, I discovered the late and much-missed Alan Rickman during the summer of 1988; my father and I visited a local theatre chain to see a little art house picture called Die Hard. I was fifteen and I’d already developed a sort of attitude about movies that I considered to be big, dumb Hollywood action extravaganzas. Simply put, I didn’t like ‘em. I hadn’t gone full snob by that point – no “I Love Wim Wenders” tee-shirts as of yet decorated my wardrobe – but in hindsight, I was becoming a little elitist creep about what I considered to be good movies and bad ones. Luckily, director John McTiernan and Bruce Willis saw me a’comin’ by a country mile and promptly schooled me on the virtues of a well done action film with a good script and solid characterization. But it was really the villain of the piece played to nasty perfection by British thespian Alan Rickman that saved me from a lifelong subscription to Film Comment and who steered me into the more general yet fun waters of Premiere and Movieline Magazines. That’s right Ladies and Gents, Hans Gruber himself kept me on the cinematic straight and narrow, not an unimpressive feat for a forty year old actor who himself was making his feature film debut in Die Hard.
In the years that followed, Rickman played one memorable role after another. It’s a safe bet in this day and age that he’s recalled as the character of Severus Snape in the uber-popular Harry Potter franchise of films, but my tired old noggin also recollects other great performances in films such as Dogma, Bob Roberts, Sense and Sensibility and Love Actually. Mr. Rickman sadly passed away on January 14, 2016 at the age of 69.
Breaking news from those adorable tykes at The Hollywood Reporter this very morning has it that Mr. Rickman is poised for a little posthumous loving courtesy of a treasure trove of personal diaries the consummate actor left behind. And when I use the words “treasure trove” brother, do I mean it: In all, 27 volumes of diaries from Rickman’s personal archives will be published. Sarah Crichton at the prestigious Henry Holt and Company (which itself is an imprint of well-known Macmillan) landed this coup which was announced yesterday.
So what can discerning fans from Die Hard all the way to Robin Hood Prince of Thieves expect with this rich cache? Take it away Simon Thorogood, Editorial Director at Canongate which acquired World English language rights to the diaries: “Which is your favorite Alan Rickman? Jamie in Truly Madly Deeply, Hans Gruber in Die Hard, on stage as Elyot in Private Lives? Maybe it’s the Sheriff of Nottingham, or perhaps Professor Severus Snape? Or why not all of the above? With the publication of his diaries, fans everywhere are in for a rare treat. Here is the real Alan Rickman: smart, passionate, funny, caring and insightful.”
Not to be outdone by their literary colleague, Henry Holt and Company issued a companion statement, saying that “the diaries paint a rare portrait of a world class actor, a tireless political activist, an avid traveler and a devoted friend. Handwritten, starting in the early ‘90s and kept for the rest of his life, the diaries offer a rare insight into the mind of the man and the artistic, social and political worlds he inhabited.”
The diaries will finally see the light of day in the Autumn of 2022. And this fan can’t help but think that, though erstwhile off-duty cop John McClane fired the last shot as he exited the Nakatomi Plaza, it’s good old Hans Gruber that finally gets the last word. “Yippee-ki-yay” indeed, Mr. Rickman.