Happy Birthday to the Great Alan Rickman

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Today is the day we celebrate the one and only man perfect for the portrayal of Severus Snape in all eight Harry Potter films. Alan Sidney Patrick Rickman turns 68 years old today. Born in London, England, Rickman is actually a former member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, a theater company based in Stratford-upon-Avon, the land Shakespeare once called home. The company puts on a number of plays a year, traveling across the UK. Rickman has done several stage performances in addition to his on-screen roles.

Alan Rickman as Severus Snape

From the very beginning until the end, Rickman held the role of Severus Snape. His performance as the Potions Master is absolutely remarkable. It is my personal belief that no other actor could ever portray the character more accurately. Not once did this man step out of character. The emotion and dedication to his role he shows on screen just blow viewers away.

Snape’s History

Any bit of Severus Snape’s history is hidden from the series until Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the fifth book in the series. In Chapter 28, “Snape’s Worst Memory,” readers are pulled into the reflection of the professor’s not-so-pleasureable time as a student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Unfortunately, the movie does not include the majority of Snape’s memory.

The Unbreakable Vow

The Unbreakable Vow

In the sixth book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, readers are presented with a rather frustrating conflict. Is Severus Snape good or bad? That is the question. He is finally granted his long-anticipated wish to become the Defense Against the Dark Arts professor at Hogwarts, allowing Horace Slughorn to accept the open position for Potions Master. But the question remains, does Snape still remain a loyal follower of he-who-must-not-be-named?

“I’ve played my part well,” Snape tells Bellatrix and Narcissa in Half-Blood Prince. “So well that I have deceived the greatest wizard of all time. Dumbledore is a great wizard; only a fool would question it.” Alan Rickman does a great job confusing viewers throughout the whole series; fans across the globe were puzzled until the final book was released in July 2007.

The Secretly Shared Fate of Severus Snape

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

To avoid any spoilers (although I would think nearly the entire universe knows the truth by now), I will not reveal any specifics. But I will tell you this: There is a reason, a reason for every word he says, every breath he takes. And it is beyond anything any fan could have pegged from the start. It has been said that while filming the series, Rowling herself revealed Snape’s fate strictly to Rickman himself, instructing him to refrain from spilling the beans, so to speak. Their own Unbreakable Vow. Alan Rickman kept the fate of his fantastically-played character a secret through to the very end. I believe Rickman was the only person to know the fate of his character from early on, as JK Rowling was not certain on many other characters’ fates in the beginning.

Alan Rickman in Other Roles

A Shakespearean Experience

Naturally, Alan Rickman is a widely known actor and was such even before the release of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in 2001. As mentioned above, he was once a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company. He also took part in BBC Television’s Shakespeare series as Tybalt in the most well-known Shakespeare play, Romeo and Juliet. This episode aired in Europe in December 1978, and first aired in the United States in March of the following year.

In addition, Rickman also played Colonel Brandon in the 1995 production of Shakespeare’s Sense and Sensibility.

Other Popular Roles

Rickman also took on many other roles in movies across the decades, including but not limited to Hans Gruber in the first Die Hard film(1988), Sheriff George of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves (1991), Harry in Love Actually (2003), Judge Turpin in Sweeney Todd: Demon Barber of Fleet Street (in which he SINGS!) (2007), and he even voiced the character of the Blue Caterpillar in Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland film (2010).

Despite turning 68 years of age today, Rickman remains as strong as ever, continuing his roles on screen with the upcoming movies A Promise (the trailer for which can be found here) and A Little Chaos. Hats off to the player of the Potions Master and the greatest Secret Keeper of today, Mr. Alan Rickman.

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