Today, giving us less than a week to stop reeling from the loss of David Bowie, the Universe took another of our most beloved Englishmen. Thursday morning, his family confirmed that actor Alan Rickman died at 69 after a battle with cancer. Rickman's career spanned stage, screen, and decades. While audiences remember him largely as portraying some of the greatest villains in cinematic history, he is remembered by his friends and colleagues for his wit, kindness, warmth, and humility.
Rickman has been one of my favorite actors since I was eight. While he was often typecast as baddies, he played a broad range of characters, bringing depth, nuance, and humor to every role he ever took on. Even if a movie or play was not great, after you'd see anything he was in, you'd feel the need to emphatically tell someone "...but Alan Rickman was awesome." Because he inevitably was; he was consistently superb. In fact, I don't think there has been a Rickman performance that one could ever look at and say, "Meh. He was OK."
In memorializing his life, I've no doubt writers, journalists, and critics will all focus on his tremendous talent and contributions to the arts. So I would like to take a different approach. I come to praise Alan Rickman: Unlikely Sex Symbol of Our Time. Traditionally stunning or even handsome? No. But Rickman radiated sex appeal. I'm not alone in this assessment. Total Film magazine put him on their sexiest actor list less than three years ago. Countless women and men in my Facebook and Twitter feeds this morning are bemoaning the loss of their "celebrity husband/boyfriend/booty call." Maybe it was his nose (I'm a sucker for big noses). His artfully disheveled hair. His talent. His overall charisma. Or the fact that he was obviously a wonderful human being. (His being a feminist certainly didn't hurt.)
And so, as a tribute to the late great Rickman, let us delve into his most swoon-worthy roles A) because I sort of can't handle how sad I am and I want to do something light-hearted; and B) because I never don't want to be delving into Alan Rickman's sexiness, and the only good thing about this day is that I have a valid excuse to do so.
I mean... I would be remiss if I did not put this front and center, right? Alan Rickman's voice was one of the five sexiest voices that has ever existed. Not in the past 20 years, or 50, or 100 — ever. Listen to him reading Sonnet 130. He manages to make a joking sonnet sound romantic AF.
Confusing adult feelings for Severus Snape isn't reserved exclusively for Snape Wives (go ahead and be ready to have your mind blown with that link, by the way: it might be enough to distract you from the pain of this loss). I say this as someone who is a huge fan of the Harry Potter books but doesn't like the movies: Alan Rickman was absolutely perfect and transcendent as Snape. He captured the spirit of the character brilliantly and embued the onscreen persona with the kind of heartfelt gravitas that only a Royal Shakespeare Company alum can. More to the point, he managed to convey those aspects of Severus that those among us who like a challenge find irresistible: He's cold, dark, and brooding... but you can see a glimmer of softness there that has convinced you you can fuck the pain away and fix him!
In what will be a theme in this list: I actually hate Love, Actually (don't bother trying to convince me it's good; people have been attempting for years and always fail) but the Rickman/Thompson storyline was compelling and sad and would have made a good standalone short film. Rickman's inexplicable sexiness in real life is perhaps best summed up in this role. A totally normal-looking, middle-aged man is absolutely irresistible to his young, hot, horny co-worker. On paper, this just sounds like another eyeroll-y Woody Allen movie... but I get it with Alan Rickman. Like, yes, obviously this woman wants to bang him. Who wouldn't?! He exudes an aura of bangability. (Of course, Emma Thompson exudes an aura of "Do. Not. Mess. With. This. Glorious. Woman." which should have been enough for tart-y co-worker and weak-willed Rickman alike to keep it in their knickers, but I guess true evil does exist.)
By Grabthar's Hammer, by the suns of Worvan, you were even sexy as a scale-headed alien, Rickman you marvelous bastard.
Full disclosure: This movie basically defined my junior year of high school, and Alan Rickman's turn as the jaded, tequila-loving, amorphously genitaled archangel. YES, EVEN THE FACT THAT THIS CHARACTER HAD NO GENITALS DID NOT KEEP HIM FROM HAVING SEX APPEAL! Something magical happens when you put Alan Rickman in a blazer and a hoodie at the same time...
In 1996, Rickman played the notorious (and basically impossible to kill) Russian mystic in a TV movie. I watched it Russian class in high school. Rasputin was a grody, weird-ass dude who was nevertheless a potent sex symbol among Russian ladies in his day. Rasputin got all the ass. Rickman pretty much nailed it. The whole time you're like, "Why am I feeling these feelings?! This dude is not someone I should be attracted to on any level," but Rickman releases his special Rickman mojo through the screen that calms you down and just says, "Go with it, baby. Just go with it." And by God, I did.
As Dogma defined junior year of high school, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves defined perhaps an embarrassing amount of middle school. Admittedly, at the time I was more focused on Christian Slater than I was dear Alan (laugh all you want, it was a common affliction among tween girls in the mid-'90s, people), but it was nevertheless my first introduction to the esteemed actor. But time and distance has taught me a couple things about this film:
I mean, just look at this suave-ass mother... As a friend of mine put it in discussing Rickman's death this morning: "My first dilemma with liking a bad guy. He was awful and brilliant." He's a stone-cold wildcard, which, as an actor, is pretty hard to pull off, but Rickman managed with aplomb. Sexy aplomb.
This, ladies and gentleman, is and shall forever be my favorite sexy Alan Rickman. Maybe because I've always fancied myself a Marianne Dashwood, or maybe it's because I saw this movie at just the right time during my sexual awakening, but Colonel Brandon is the real deal. He's not a firework that bursts into flames and fizzles out within moments, leaving you unfulfilled and covered in ash. Rickman's Brandon is a campfire. You see him as a small flicker in the distance, but as you get closer, maybe on purpose, maybe not, you can feel how warm and comforting he is and you can't help but happily cozy up next to him. There you sit, all night, content and dreamy.
Mr. Rickman, your loss is a loss not only to humanity's collective sex appeal, but to theater, film, and general human goodness. You were the kindest villain the world has ever known and you will be missed.
Images: Ian Gavan/Getty Images Entertainment; Giphy (7); Tumblr