The death of an actor. What a fickle, insignificant thing. When you take stock of the planet spinning through space and all of human existence an insignificant blip in the ribbon of time, the death of an actor is less than nothing. But when you think about Alan Rickman, and the joy and wonder each of his magical performances brought to us, when you use your heart instead of your head and realize that his aura and radiance and talent and beauty and narcotic voice has left us behind, it’s okay for it to mean more. It’s okay for strangers to cry. It’s okay to have a hard time at work. He has left us, and we are the lesser for it. My god, I keep thinking. He’s gone.
People like me, who are rarely moved by things like this, are rattled. When a celebrity dies, well, it’s sad. No doubt. But it doesn’t feel this way. This feels different. This has knocked me on my ass.
Maybe it’s because, despite never giving a bad performance, and being thoroughly captivating and lovely, Alan Rickman was never a celebrity first. He was an actor first. He managed to stay out of the limelight in a way that protected him and made you notice his work before the type of nonsense you notice with other public figures. His theater background and professionalism made him feel closer to the Sir Laurence Oliviers of history rather than most of his contemporary peers. He approached every role with a fresh eye, humanized villains, tore us apart with his honesty and portrayed the best and worst in all of us. I despise the process of comparing one actor to another, but you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who brought more to the world through acting than Alan Rickman. When we think of him, we aren’t distracted by other things. We think of his acting. What a clean, unfettered gift he gave us. Just simple, jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring, subtle, precise acting.
I hesitate to even mention his roles by name. Isn’t that odd? It feels like holy space now. I remember which ones moved me and made me laugh and made me think. We all have our favorites, though we’d be hard pressed to not agree when someone else mentioned theirs. He had certain ones that I feel like no one else in the world could have pulled off. You know the ones I mean. They are now uniquely his. He was perfect. Perfect. God, he could do so much with so little. Think of his many expressions and choices and tiny beats and tell me he that the word perfect doesn’t apply. What a titan. What a technician. It’s devastating. Devastating. I know where I was - and who I was when I first saw him perform, and I know where I am, and who I’ve settled in as, on the day we hear of his death. I never met the man, but he felt like family. If I missed any of his work, and I’m sure I have, I’ll now view them as a bottle on an ocean. Something I’ll find and open when I have the strength. But not now. Not now.
The greatest surge of electricity I’ve ever felt as a movie watcher is when Alan Rickman appeared onscreen when I didn’t know he was coming. It meant that everything just got infinitely better. It meant that even if all else failed, you would still come away with truth and wit and intelligence and beauty. How often can you say that? How often does someone bring all of that to a world of strangers? How often is that level of skill corrupted by success and idolatry and ego? How often does the universe create a thing of such substantial talent and not twist it in destructive ways? How many people could play the various roles he did with such grace and carefulness and humility? He was a giant. A giant who loved one woman and cared for one profession and stayed true to them both.
I can’t believe he’s gone. I can’t believe it. I didn’t know we were in danger of losing him. I guess I just never thought of it because he was so vibrant and powerful and such a constant in our lives. It never occurred to me how I would feel when he was taken away. I don’t know what my life will be without his magic in it. Certainly, it will go on, but it will be drearier and less wonderful. But it will be noticed. It’s not just a blip that you shrug off and move on from. It’s not just anyone. My god, this man was different. He was an uncorrupted custodian of the artistic form. He was a creative spirit, loaned to us for sixty-nine years from the world of faeries. He was a vision and a ray of light in a dark world and a pureblood child of the Muses and we’ll never see his like again. He hath borne us all upon his back a thousand times with effortlessness and integrity and strength and character and purpose. His time on this planet rewarded us all. The death of an actor. Such a small thing. Such a small thing that we’ll never get over.
Rest in radiance and glory and wonder and peace, Alan Rickman. We will never, ever forget you.