By Peta Yoshinaga
March 20, 2015, 12:25 pm
British actor and director Alan Rickman is widely known for his role as Professor Snape in the Harry Potter films.
He has worked on both sides of the camera for his new film A Little Chaos, which tackles issues faced by women past and present.
Rickman describes A Little Chaos as human, true and timeless.
Set in 1682, the romantic drama follows Kate Winslet's character Sabine, a talented landscape designer chosen to build one of the main gardens at King Louis XIV's new palace at Versailles.
Sabine challenges gender and class barriers and becomes involved with the court's renowned landscape artist André Le Notre, played by Matthias Schoenaerts.
"When you ... watch it, I kind of hope that you will all forget about the period and see all sorts of modern parallels," Rickman told Jane Hutcheon on One Plus One.
Rickman reflects on women's roles in both eras, noting the writer's choice to take a period where women were merely decorative objects with no function.
"It's sad that the situation still persists, I mean, you still have women as decorative objects all over the media," he said.
Rickman admires the writing for allowing Schoenaerts' character to show his feminine side and Winslet's character to show her masculine side.
"And neither of them as actors is afraid of that. And I think that creates a great sexual tension between them," Rickman said.
Rickman is a feminist who has encountered strong women throughout his life, including his partner Rima Horton, who is a former Labour Party candidate and lecturer of economics.
"There's nothing wrong with a man being a feminist — I think it's to our mutual advantage," he said.
Rickman was born on a council estate in West London to Margaret Doreen Rose and Bernard Rickman in 1946, around five months after the end of World War II.
When Rickman was eight years old his father died of cancer, leaving his mother to seek out work to feed her family.
But he does not dwell on the hardship, harking back to the story of A Little Chaos when recalling his mother's strength.
"She was a tigress. She could do anything ... all those female things, sew cook and clean — she took care of those things without even thinking about it because she had been trained by her mother," he said.
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