Our Favorite Marvin. And Snape. And Gruber. And Sheriff, too.
A few months ago I had decided I would buy the movie ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ on DVD. I hadn’t seen it for years, and only sort of liked it, but it was $5 at Target. Fast forward to Wednesday night of this week, and I finally had it in hand. I was way too excited for a movie I thought was just okay, but I really wanted to watch it again. The big reason the movie even warrants a second look is the amazing actors who bring the adapted material to life. One of those actors is, of course, Alan Rickman. Rickman portrayed the robot Marvin, and brought some of the biggest laughs to the film version of the famous story.
Imagine the feeling I get the next morning, the morning after I purchase this movie based on the merits of one of the performers, to find out that he died. As I’m driving into work Thursday morning, a mere 12 hours after getting my $5 DVD, I find out Alan Rickman has lost his battle with cancer at the age of 69. I can add the news to the very few times I’ve heard similar stories about famous people where I actually felt like I was punched in the gut. His death is an extreme loss to the worlds of stage and screen, and for the very reason that I was persuaded to buy a movie that only sort of like.
Rickman elevated everything he was in by just being there. He gave things a gravitas they wouldn’t have with another actor. No matter how crude, how pedantic, or even how well done the material was, he made it better. And he seemed to make everyone around him look good in the process. Do you remember a little movie called ‘Dogma?’ It was a controversial movie about religion written and directed by Kevin Smith. Rickman played Metatron, a Seraphim (the HIGHEST of angels), and provided plenty of comedy relief as a grumpy curmudgeon, as well as the most touching scene in the whole film, too.
Perhaps best known to the older people as Hans Gruber from ‘Die Hard,’ and the young kids as Severus Snape from ‘Harry Potter,’ Rickman had a wide audience in the film world. In the former of those films, he played a villain who was hard to top in sequels and other action movies, and in the latter brought to life what could possibly be the most tragic character in all of JK Rowling’s imagination. But there were two movies of his that stand out to me, and that I count among my favorite films of all time.
The first? ‘Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.’ Didn’t see that coming did you? I know it gets a lot of hate, but I love it. I even forgive the lack of English accent by Kevin Costner. But it was Rickman’s performance that stood out as one of the things that made me love the movie (aside from the Michael Kamen score). His Sheriff of Nottingham was deranged and comical, and Rickman pulled off the balancing act the part required when most actors would have been far too campy to give the character any real menace.
Second one…’Galaxy Quest.’ For a Star Trek fan like myself, this lampooning of that franchise seemed more an homage or out of love than it did a ruthless skewering or indictment. I like ‘Galaxy Quest’ so much I still think they should make an actual show like the one featured in the movie. Rickman played actor Alexander Dane, who played NSEA Protector crew member Dr. Lazarus, an honorable member of an honorable alien race with catchphrase and all. Dane hated every minute of having to live up to and inside this legacy he was a part of. Then, like many Star Trek actors, Dane comes to find out just what the show means to the people who watch it and avenges the death of an alien fan.
Not sure how to end this one. I guess I’ll just say it sucks to lose such a great actor and someone who seemed to be a great guy. So far 2016 can suck a big one when it comes to awesome famous people leaving us, and hopefully this is the last for a while. Now, instead of watching ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ because of Rickman, I’ll watch it in honor of him.
As always…we don’t own the photos, just used them. They’re wonderful photos/screenshots/whatever. No litigation necessary.