Remembering Alan Rickman: Top Five Character Performances

Yesterday acclaimed British actor, Alan Rickman, passed away at the age of 69 from cancer. The world was quick to add touching tributes to the actor on social media. A particularly touching one was this, from friend and co-star in the Harry Potter films, Daniel Radcliffe.

Alan Rickman was an English actor and director, who appeared on both stage and screen, often playing the villain. His big break came in the role of Vicomte de Valmont in the stage production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses in 1985. He is more widely known for his role as Hans Gruber, the calculating villain from the first Die Hard film (more on this later).

Although he is more commonly known for playing villains, he has also played leading roles in Truly, Madly, Deeply and Ang Lee’s Sense and Sensibility. For his role of Rasputin in Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny, he won a Golden Globe Award, an Emmy Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award.


Now here is my list of top five favourite performances.

5. Alexander Dane – Galaxy Quest.

Dr Lazarus

In the role of Alexander Dane/Dr Lazarus, Rickman was joyous to watch as an actor who hated to play the character he was most loved for. He had some of the best lines in the film, when delivering scathing attacks on his fellow co-stars. The highlight of the movie for me, is when Lazarus finally gives in and utters the catchphrase he has come to hate so much, “By Grabthars hammer, by the suns of Warvan, you shall be avenged.” It goes from a pretentious line, to the words that give a dying man peace. When delivered as only Rickman can, it becomes one of the most emotional scenes in the movie.

4. The Metatron – Dogma.

The Metatron

This is my guilty pleasure film. There are so many good performances in this movie, but the one which stole the movie is Rickman’s portrayal of Metatron – The Voice of God. Metatron is an angel who is permanently annoyed, and its mainly to do with the lack of respect humans have towards angels. The scene when he first appears is a great one to highlight Rickman’s talent for comedy. Take a look at it below, but be warned, there is some strong language.


Throughout the film, he gets to say some of the best lines. Again it isn’t a role you would expect him in, but it ultimately works. If you haven’t seen it, then I highly recommend watching it as soon as possible.

3. Severus Snape – Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part Two

Severus Snape

When I read Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, and I got to the part where Snape meets his demise, I can remember thinking that I couldn’t wait to see Rickman in the scene. Well he certainly didn’t disappoint did he? The way that Rickman plays this scene and the flashbacks, is nothing short of spectacular. Whether it’s when he walks into the bedroom to find Harry’s mum dead and floored by grief, to producing his patronus, and Dumbledore asking “After all this time?” and the heartbreaking reply, a simple “Always.”

The great thing about Rickman being Snape was after seeing the first film; I decided to start reading the books. Reading the lines of Snape was all the more enjoyable when you have the voice of Alan Rickman in your head. I can’t imagine any other voice being Snape’s.

2. Hans Gruber – Die Hard.

Hans Gruber

Alan Rickman showed other bad guys how to make this look good. Hans Gruber is the epitome of cool in Die Hard. When I first saw the film, I had never wanted a bad guy to survive as much as I did Hans. The way that Rickman played it, a was genius. The scenes where he has conversations with John Mclane are brilliant to watch and he gives as good as he gets. I particularly like the scene where he’s discovered and pretends he’s a hostage and goes from cool and calm, to utterly terrified in seconds. He doesn’t fit the typical mould when it comes to one liners either. He has more thought out speeches that he delivers with authority and menace that just send shivers down you back. One my favourites is ” When they touch down, we’ll blow the roof, they’ll spend a month sifting through rubble, and by the time they figure out what went wrong, we’ll be sitting on a beach, earning twenty percent”

This performance made other film bad guys stand up and pay attention. There were lots of them who tried to imitate Hans, but no-one ever came close to it.

1.The Sheriff of Nottingham – Robin Hood the Prince of Thieves.

Sheriff of Nottingham

Some may say its a controversial decision, but I stand by my choice. This is the most personal choice on the list, as this film is the earliest one I remember going to without a parent. I remember after it finished, everyone was talking about how cool Robin Hood was, and while I agreed he’s cool, I had much more fun when The Sheriff was on-screen. It wasn’t just the lines that he got to say, it was the looks he would give while delivering them. He was a like a tornado through the film, and such a physical one that it must have exhausted him.

For me this is Rickman at his finest, chewing up the scenery and everyone around him.

It is so much fun to watch him in this part, and it must have been a lot of fun to play. Again he was a villain that I didn’t want to see caught, so that I could see more of him on-screen.

So there is my list of favourite performances. Although it was nice to look back on his career, I would have much preferred writing this further down the line and seeing what else he had to offer.

Alan Rickman will be sorely missed but fondly remembered by millions of fans all over the world. Always.


Lee Westney
Lee Westney
I am a 36 year old man child who has vey serious addiction to film/TV/comics and superheroes. I live in sunny Bristol with my wife who has just about come to terms with how big a nerd I am and my 2 kids. I love having a good old natter about all things geeky related so please feel free to get in touch with theories you may have or any bits of info. But!! Please no spoilers!