Long before JK Rowling was scribbling the words that would become the juggernaut that is Harry Potter (or maybe while she was scribbling), and Severus Snape was immortalized on film by the pitch perfect Alan Rickman, I had fallen in love with him (and that great – yet underrated – British actress Juliet Stevenson) in Anthony Minghella’s stunning 1990 film, “Truly, Madly, Deeply.”
If you haven’t seen it, go find it and watch it. NOW. I’ll wait.
Okay. Have you seen it now?
And now tell me how it was impossible to not fall in love with Jamie – Alan Rickman’s character. Jamie. Who died. Jamie. Who played the cello, so hauntingly, so beautifully, and who spoke in that wonderful, mellifluous tone that is – now was – Rickman’s trademark voice? How could you not weep, openly, as Juliet Stevenson, a woman shattered by grief, wished so hard for her lover (Rickman) to return – that he did. In ghost form. And turned up the heat (because apparently it’s bloody freezing in the afterlife or wherever Alan Rickman-cello playing ghosts go) and played the cello, and sneezed a lot and brought his ghost friends round and stayed up ALL NIGHT watching movies. And sang “Sun ain’t gonna shine anymore,” with Stevenson.
This movie. This is where I fell in love with Rickman. Such beauty, such power, such love, such a voice! Such emotional depth. Such physical expression. There is nothing – by Hollywood standards – about Rickman’s features that made him sexy. But he was. With that voice and that emotional depth and talent by the bucketload. He was a great stage actor long before Hollywood discovered him. But “Truly Madly Deeply” is and was to this day both one of my favourite films of all time and Rickman remained one of my favourite actors. Pre-Harry Potter. Even Pre-Sense and Sensibility with Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet.
Rickman was one of those guys that you’d pay to read the bloody phone book. That I would have paid good money to see on stage, but never got the chance. So, in case it’s not clear, Rickman was one of my favourite actors of all time and it’s heartbreaking to hear that that talent has been snuffed out. That he’s gone. That we’ll never hear that voice – at least live – again. Not unless he does a “Jamie” and shows up to haunt various people.
However, I’m not just sad that his talents are gone. I’msad that he left this Earth without ever giving up on his anti-Israel stance. When I heard that he had co-written and produced the play “My Name is Rachel Corrie,” in 2005 about American student protesting the demolition of a Palestinian home, who was killed by an Israeli bulldozer while acting as a human shield, I could no longer respect the man.
I wish Rickman – who died today – January 14 at the age of 69 from cancer – had lived long enough to open his eyes to what is really going on in Israel. I wish he’d lived long enough to use his intelligence and compassion and take a long, hard look at the fact that there are two sides to a conflict; that he’d come to know and love Israel. Heck, I wish he’d taken the time to visit Israel!
Either way, the world has lost a great talent. And I will continue to remain truly, madly, deeply in love with Jamie and his cello. Even if I can’t remain in love with the man who played him.