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Alan Rickman: how to create a villain

Alan Rickman never planned to be a movie star. As a drama school graduate in Britain, a country with a struggling film industry, he was prepared for a life on the stage with a few TV jobs if he was lucky. But that all changed when a Hollywood producer saw him on Broadway in Les Liaisons Dangereuses. Rickman was cast as the villain Hans Gruber in Die Hard, a suave, well-dressed terrorist/thief who changed the template for Hollywood bad guys. In this 1991 radio interview on CBC Radio's Prime Time, Rickman also praises his most recent film, Truly, Madly, Deeply.
• Alan Rickman was born in London in 1946 and trained as a graphic designer before going to drama school. His first role off the stage was Tybalt in a 1978 BBC production of Romeo and Juliet.
  • "I've only played three villains in my entire career, but that's all anyone ever wants to talk about," Rickman told a reporter for the Globe and Mail in 1991 just weeks before this interview.

• Rickman's portrayal of Hans Gruber landed him at spot #46 on the American Film Institute's list of top 100 heroes and villains in 2003.

• Rickman is known to younger audiences for his recurring role as Professor Severus Snape in the Harry Potter series of movies. He was not originally slated to play Snape; actor Tim Roth originally won the role but dropped it for a part in the Planet of the Apes remake instead. "There were only a couple of Harry Potter books out at that point, and Snape seemed under-developed," Roth said in 2008. "I've watched the films, and Alan Rickman does a good job."

Medium: Radio
Program: Prime Time
Broadcast Date: Dec. 23, 1991
Guest(s): Alan Rickman
Interviewer: Geoff Pevere
Duration: 14:49
Photo: Homer Sykes Archive, GetStock.com

Last updated: June 26, 2013

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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