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Remembering Alan Rickman & Celebrating Harry Potter

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Yes, the loss of Alan Rickman is felt acutely by lovers of Harry Potter and all those in the HP fandom. 

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Rickman brought Professor Snape to life in a way no one else could, and created a much bigger audience for the movies out of his many fans.  As much as I loved the books, having Alan Rickman announced as Snape just made me all the more excited and committed to watching the entire film series.  The film series is full of wonderful actors, but it is because of him, first and foremost, that I became so attached to it.

I’ve been to many conventions, been a part of lots of panels, and sold hundreds of pieces of official Harry Potter art.  I’ve seen Alan Rickman in plays for years, and even felt a kinship because he was connected to RADA (I went there) and we shared a birthday (February 21st). I know from my fellow HP fans, collectors, and production artists that Snape, and by extension Alan Rickman as that character, came to be a representative for all things misunderstood, weird, and wonderful.

Snape was both good and bad, trapped and stymied by his overwhelming love and bitterness.  He was a cautionary tale and an inspiration. There are few characters that do that as well.

As an actor, it’s a powerful legacy to have built from just one character.  Of course many remember him as Hans Gruber from Die Hard, but he had a long and stellar career both on stage and screen. Sometimes he was the picture of subtlety, sometimes an intentional scenery-chewer, but always compelling to watch.

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Reportedly, he was also kind and giving as a colleague and friend.  Daniel Radcliffe said in 2014, “Alan has cut short holidays that he’s been having to come and see me in plays, and take me out for dinner afterwards to talk to me about stuff.  I think when he realized how serious I was about wanting to be an actor, and he knew what a particular world the Potter set was to grow up in, he just sort of made it his – he just really wanted to help us all and has been very helpful to me, certainly.”

Here is what Dan wrote in tribute to Alan at his passing:

Alan Rickman is undoubtedly one of the greatest actors I will ever work with. He is also, one of the loyalest and most supportive people I’ve ever met in the film industry. He was so encouraging of me both on set and in the years post-Potter. I’m pretty sure he came and saw everything I ever did on stage both in London and New York. He didn’t have to do that. I know other people who’ve been friends with him for much much longer than I have and they all say, ‘If you call Alan, it doesn’t matter where in the world he is or how busy he is with what he’s doing, he’ll get back to you within a day.’

People create perceptions of actors based on the parts they played so it might surprise some people to learn that contrary to some of the sterner (or downright scary) characters he played, Alan was extremely kind, generous, self-deprecating and funny. And certain things obviously became even funnier when delivered in his unmistakable double-bass.

As an actor, he was one of the first of the adults on Potter to treat me like a peer rather than a child. Working with him at such a formative age was incredibly important and I will carry the lessons he taught me for the rest of my life and career. Film sets and theatre stages are all far poorer for the loss of this great actor and man.

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We were just preparing a show of Harry Potter art called “Sorcerers in Snow: Hogwarts in Winter”, when we were approached by the founder of the www.alwaysjkrowling.com site about raising awareness and funds for a charity Rowling had started called Lumos. Lumos endeavors to make the institutionalization of children in the world a distant memory. We backtracked and added that we’d donate 10% of sales proceeds to Lumos . Then this morning we found out fans had lost their Snape, and of course we wanted to donate to one of Rickman’s causes as well, so we added a charity he supported, Saving Faces. It does research, aids in treatment, and works to expand awareness about facial diseases like oral cancer. Both charities are worthy and important, and we always love having a charity component when we have an exhibit or collection.  The idea is to hopefully do well and do good at the same time.

It feels like a way to channel our sadness at a loss, with a proactive way of celebrating not only the work of J.K Rowling, but the life of an amazing actor who inspired us with his work and life.  We can bring attention to charities that might make the world a little better, and raise a little money for them as well.  If you are interested in donating directly, or want more information on the charities, go to wearelumos.org http://wearelumos.org/  and savingfaces.co.uk http://www.savingfaces.co.uk/.  To see our collection of art from Harry Potter, go to our HARRY POTTER PAGE.

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One comment on “Remembering Alan Rickman & Celebrating Harry Potter
  1. Jeanella Vennekotter says:

    Leslie and Michael, I am very moved by your involvement in and the sharing of information about Alan Rickman’s and J. K. Rowling’s charities. I will contact the addresses you’ve noted to obtain more information about them. My friend Ai and I mourn the loss of Alan Rickman and got together after hearing the news of his passing to toast his life and his many gifts.

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