Alan Sidney Patrick Rickman (21 February 1946 – 14 January 2016) was an English actor and director. Known for his languid tone and delivery, Rickman's signature sound was the result of a speech impediment when he could not move his lower jaw properly as a child. He trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London and became a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), performing in modern and classical theatre productions. He played the Vicomte de Valmont in the RSC stage production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses in 1985, and after the production transferred to the West End in 1986 and Broadway in 1987 he was nominated for a Tony Award.
Alan Sidney Patrick Rickman was born into a working-class family in Acton, west London, on 21 February 1946. He was the son of a Welsh mother, Margaret Doreen Rose (née Bartlett), a housewife, and Bernard William Rickman, a factory worker, house painter and decorator, and former World War II aircraft fitter. Rickman was of Irish and Welsh descent. His father was Catholic and his mother was a Methodist. Rickman had two brothers, David and Michael, and a sister, Sheila. Rickman was born with a tight jaw, which resulted in the languid tone of his voice. When he was eight years old, his father died of lung cancer, leaving his mother to raise him and his three siblings mostly alone. According to Paton, the family was "rehoused by the council and moved to an Acton estate to the west of Wormwood Scrubs Prison, where his mother struggled to bring up four children on her own by working for the Post Office." She married again in 1960, but divorced Rickman's stepfather after three years.
In 1965, at age 19, Rickman met 18-year-old Rima Horton, who became his girlfriend and would later be a Labour Party councillor on the Kensington and Chelsea London Borough Council (1986–2006) and an economics lecturer at Kingston University. In 2015, Rickman confirmed that they had married in a private ceremony in New York City in 2012. They lived together from 1977 until Rickman's death. The two had no children.
After graduating from RADA, Rickman worked extensively with British repertory and experimental theatre groups in productions including Chekhov's The Seagull and Snoo Wilson's The Grass Widow at the Royal Court Theatre, and appeared three times at the Edinburgh International Festival. In 1978, he performed with the Court Drama Group, gaining roles in Romeo and Juliet and A View from the Bridge, among other plays. While working with the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC), he was cast in As You Like It. His breakthrough role was in The Barchester Chronicles (1982), the BBC's adaptation of Trollope's first two Barchester novels, as the Reverend Obadiah Slope.
Rickman was given the male lead, the Vicomte de Valmont, in the 1985 Royal Shakespeare Company production of Christopher Hampton's adaptation of Les Liaisons Dangereuses, directed by Howard Davies. After the RSC production transferred to the West End in 1986 and Broadway in 1987, Rickman received both a Tony Award nomination and a Drama Desk Award nomination for his performance.
Rickman was voted No. 19 in Empire magazine's Greatest Living Movie Stars over the age of 50 and was twice nominated for Broadway's Tony Award as Best Actor (Play); in 1987 for Les Liaisons Dangereuses and in 2002 for a revival of Noël Coward's Private Lives. The Guardian named Rickman as an "honourable mention" in a list of the best actors never to have received an Academy Award nomination.
Rickman was chosen by Empire as one of the 100 Sexiest Stars in film history (No. 34) in 1995 and ranked No. 59 in Empire's "The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time" list in October 1997. In 2009 and 2010, he was ranked once again as one of the 100 Sexiest Stars by Empire, both times placing No. 8 out of the 50 actors chosen. He was elected to the council of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in 1993; he was subsequently RADA's vice-chairman and a member of its artistic advisory and training committees and development board.
Rickman directed The Winter Guest at London's Almeida Theatre in 1995 and the film version of the same play, released in 1997, starring Emma Thompson and her real-life mother Phyllida Law. With Katharine Viner, he compiled the play My Name Is Rachel Corrie and directed the premiere production at the Royal Court Theatre, which opened in April 2005. He won the Theatre Goers' Choice Awards for Best Director. Rickman befriended the Corrie family and earned their trust, and the show was warmly received. But the next year, its original New York production was "postponed" over the possibility of boycotts and protests from those who saw it as "anti-Israeli agit-prop". Rickman denounced "censorship born out of fear". Tony Kushner, Harold Pinter and Vanessa Redgrave, among others, criticised the decision to indefinitely delay the show. The one-woman play was put on later that year at another theatre to mixed reviews, and has since been staged at venues around the world.
Rickman performed onstage in Noël Coward's romantic comedy Private Lives, which transferred to Broadway after its successful run in London at the Albery Theatre and ended in September 2002; he reunited with his Les Liaisons Dangereuses co-star Lindsay Duncan and director Howard Davies in the Tony Award-winning production. Rickman's previous stage performance was in Antony and Cleopatra in 1998 as Mark Antony, with Helen Mirren as Cleopatra, in the Royal National Theatre's production at the Olivier Theatre in London, which ran from October to December 1998. Rickman appeared in Victoria Wood with All the Trimmings (2000), a Christmas special with Victoria Wood, playing an aged colonel in the battle of Waterloo who is forced to break off his engagement to Honeysuckle Weeks' character.
Rickman featured in several musical works, including a song composed by Adam Leonard entitled "Not Alan Rickman". Credited as 'A Strolling Player' in the sleeve notes, the actor played a "Master of Ceremonies" part, announcing the various instruments at the end of the first part of Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells II (1992) on the track "The Bell". Rickman was one of the many artists who recited Shakespearian sonnets on the album When Love Speaks (2002), and also featured prominently in a music video by Texas entitled "In Demand", which premiered on MTV Europe in August 2000.
In 2009, Rickman was awarded the James Joyce Award by University College Dublin's Literary and Historical Society. In October and November 2010, Rickman starred in the eponymous role in Henrik Ibsen's John Gabriel Borkman at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin alongside Lindsay Duncan and Fiona Shaw. The Irish Independent called Rickman's performance breathtaking.
In November 2011, Rickman opened in Seminar, a new play by Theresa Rebeck, at the John Golden Theatre on Broadway. Rickman, who left the production in April, won the Broadway.com Audience Choice Award for Favorite Actor in a Play and was nominated for a Drama League Award. Rickman starred with Colin Firth and Cameron Diaz in Gambit (2012) by Michael Hoffman, a remake of the 1966 film. In 2013, he played Hilly Kristal, the founder of the East Village punk-rock club CBGB, in the CBGB film with Rupert Grint.
In August 2015, Rickman suffered a minor stroke, which led to the diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. He revealed the fact that he had terminal cancer to only his closest confidants. On 14 January 2016, Rickman died in London at age 69. His remains were cremated on 3 February 2016 in the West London Crematorium in Kensal Green. His ashes were given to his wife, Rima Horton. His final two films, Eye in the Sky and Alice Through the Looking Glass, were dedicated to his memory.
Rickman made his television acting debut playing Tybalt in Romeo and Juliet (1978) as part of the BBC's Shakespeare series. The BBC also provided him with his breakthrough role: Obadiah Slope in the television adaptation of The Barchester Chronicles (1982). He later starred in television films, playing the title character in Rasputin: Dark Servant of Destiny (1996), which won him a Golden Globe Award, an Emmy Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award, and Dr. Alfred Blalock in the Emmy-winning Something the Lord Made (2004). Rickman died of pancreatic cancer on 14 January 2016 at age 69. His final film roles were as Lieutenant General Frank Benson in the thriller Eye in the Sky (2015), and reprising his role as the voice of the caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland (2010) in Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016).