Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Alan Rickman Charms Audience During BAFTA Life In Pictures Event

by Ali Jaafar
April 17, 2015 6:21am

Alan Rickman
Copyright BAFTA

August actor-director Alan Rickman effortlessly charmed audiences on a balmy London evening as he took a stroll down memory lane for the latest in BAFTA’s Life in Pictures series. Recalling a career that has seen him work with some of the film industry’s most talented and eclectic directors, including Neil Jordan, Alfonso Cuaron, Tim Burton, Ang Lee and the late Anthony Minghella, Rickman mused on his late start in the film business. “To be perfectly honest, having a film career is a bit of a surprise,” said the RADA alumni, who was in his 40s when he appeared in his first film. It didn’t hurt his career for that first film to be the era-defining Die Hard in 1988.

“I was extremely cheap,” quipped Rickman about what made the newbie thesp attractive to Die Hard producer Joel Silver, before remembering he almost turned the role down. “I read it and said, ‘What the hell is this? I’m not doing an action movie.” Thankfully for Rickman, and audiences, he was persuaded by friends to take that first role even though it might also have proven his last. Recalling how he had to perform his own stunt in the climactic fall from the top of the skyscraper — this was in the pre-CGI days — Rickman was given one afternoon’s training to prepare for the scene, “which was the very last shot — just in case.”

He also commended Die Hard for its ahead-of-its-time racial diversity. “Every single black character in that film was positive. So, 28 years ago, that was quite revolutionary and quietly so.”

The decade he spent working on the Harry Potter series, seven weeks a year for ten years as Snape, began with him having no idea where the initially ambiguous character was going. “People thought  I knew a lot but I didn’t. There were only 3 three books (when we started), so I was learning with the readers, going, ‘Oh, he’s still in it,” joked Rickman. “At first I thought I can’t play this. I don’t know who Snape is. I’m going to need to speak to her (J.K. Rowling)….she gave me one piece of information I promised to never share and I never did but it made me know I had to drive down two roads at the same time.”

Britain’s child labour laws also meant that there were tight limits on how many hours the triumvirate of Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint could work, so when the camera was focused on Rickman, “in would come the very small adult actors aged 33 with a wig on their heads…That ain’t the back of Daniel’s head.”


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