A series of unremarkable films followed, including another staring role, this time in a biopic of early hypnotist Franz Anton Mesmer in Mesmer. Then came what I consider to be the greatest role of his career: Colonel Brandon in Emma Thompson’s version of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. While his more comedic and villainous roles demanded a certain amount energy from him, his portrayal of the love-struck lord called for exactly the opposite, an inner restraint that barely concealed his overwhelming desire for a woman who had absolutely no use for him. Even in a film loaded with stars, his performance stands out as essential to the film’s overall success. After a supporting role in the historical drama Michael Collins, he appeared in some very strange films, a staring turn in the HBO film Rasputin, the Damon-Afleck fantasy film Dogma, as well as a Spock-like comedy send up in Galaxy Quest, and the British romcom Blow Dry. What brought him attention to the wider world, however, was his next appearance in the series of Harry Potter films that instantly became a worldwide sensation. They weren’t films that I enjoyed, but he was very well cast as the enigmatic professor Severus Snape.
After the first of these films he gave a wonderful performance in a small, independent comedy called The Search for John Gissing, again displaying his tremendous comedic talents. He then worked as one of a large ensemble cast in another British romcom, Love Actually, and appeared in a couple of other historical films, a murder mystery called Perfume, and Tim Burton’s musical Sweeney Todd. One of my few disappointments in his film career was his appearance in the real-life story of a California winery that went on to win a wine tasting competition in France. Bottle Shock attempted to ride the coat tails of the success of Sideways, but simply lacked the kind of story and screenplay that Alexander Payne brought to his film. By this time, however, really good roles seemed to have passed him by and he was content to appear in smaller supporting parts and continue his ongoing presence in the Harry Potter films. Never the less, Alan Rickman, will always be one of my favorite actors. He was clearly well respected by all of those who worked with him and remains an irreplaceable element of every film he appeared in.