The Funny Side Of Alan Rickman

There have been many loving tributes to Alan Rickman in recent days. The fact that he played Professor Severus Snape in all eight of the Harry Potter movies, it is not surprising to have heard from author J.K. Rowling who posted on Twitter: “There are no words to express how shocked and devastated I am to hear of Alan Rickman’s death. He was a magnificent actor & a wonderful man.”

Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe, too, gave a loving tribute.

“Alan Rickman is undoubtedly one of the greatest actors I will ever work with. He is also, one of the loyalest and most supportive people I’ve ever met in the film industry. He was so encouraging of me both on set and in the years post-Potter … People create perceptions of actors based on the parts they played so it might surprise some people to learn that contrary to some of the sterner (or downright scary) characters he played, Alan was extremely kind, generous, self-deprecating and funny. And certain things obviously became even funnier when delivered in his unmistakable double-bass.”

Wait a minute … Alan Rickman was funny? The guy who played Hans Gruber in Die Hard (1988), the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991) and Ronald Reagan in Lee Daniels’ The Butler (2013) was funny? You bet he was.

Long before the Harry Potter films, the fairly unknown but classically trained Shakespearean actor showed off his funny side in Galaxy Quest (1999) alongside Tim Allen and Sigourney Weaver. The film was a modest success and has since become a cult classic. Now, with news of Rickman’s death, it is sure to grow in popularity once again.
The film centered on the former cast of the fictional TV show, Galaxy Quest, who would travel around the county to attend Comic Con-like events and sign autographs for rabid fans. Rickman played Alexander Dane, a former classically trained actor who is afraid that the only role people would remember him for was of Dr. Lazarus, who was similar to Spock from Star Trek. He was a “serious” actor stuck playing fluff roles.

Looking back, the film would not have done as well with a different actor in the role. Rickman could identify with Dane. For those who are fans of Rickman but have never seen the film should make an effort to do so, and those who have seen the film should watch it again.

Eric Francisco recently posted his thoughts about the movie on Inverse.

“There are a lot of things to love about Galaxy Quest, not the least of which because it’s simply hysterical. For sci-fi nerds, it was a smart cultural satire that had remarkable affection. It wasn’t condescending, uninspired, nor did it pander, basically everything The Big Bang Theory does to wreak havoc. And this was years before the superhero media boom that morphed Comic-Con from a civic center gathering into the densely populated, commercialized disease party it is today. And Alan Rickman is fantastic.”

More recently though, Rickman surprised late night audiences while appearing on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Though he was dying of cancer, no one was the wiser, with him looking fit and healthy as he walked on the set with a pair of helium balloons.

“Last time I was on this show, you asked if I was aware that people impersonated me,” Rickman said to Fallon. “Then I heard the very next night … Benedict Cumberbatch and you had what is described as a ‘Rickman-off.’ So apparently these [balloons] are the Jimmy Fallon truth-telling machines. So I want to know what you have to say about that? Breathe it in …”

Ever the good sport, Falloon took in a breath and apologized for making fun of Rickman in a helium-infused voice. Fallon then asked Rickman a few questions of his own and asked the actor to answer the same way. Though it was “tough” for him, Rickman did the same to the applause of the in studio audience. Even though the event happened about six months ago, the YouTube video has had nearly 7,000 views.

At 69 years of age, Rickman still passed away too soon. Fortunately, we will be given a chance to see him perform one more time in the upcoming thriller, Eye in the Sky, with Helen Mirren which is slated to open in April of this year.

[Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images]