movieThemes: Alan Rickman
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His Life

Alan Rickman in Les Liaisons DangeruesesSTEPPING STONES

At 26, Rickman won a place at RADA giving a speech from Richard III. He worked his way through RADA by living at home and completing the odd design commission. He won several awards while at RADA, and commanded a great deal of authority, in part due to his maturity.

At 28, he left RADA to begin his career doing weekly repertory theater, which was the norm at the time. Rickman's dedication to the craft, his 'stillness' and incredible talent won over all those who worked with him. There was no part he couldn't play- be it rage, comedic timing, lover, villain, hero... During this period, Rickman also met Ruby Wax, and with his guidance, turned her career around and helped her establish herself as a comedian instead of an actress.

Rickman traveled around the UK, acting in various plays for people he met as his acting career slowly began to unfold. In 1978, Rickman joined the Royal Shakespeare Company, but he despite his exquisite 'thespian voice,' did not thrive in the 'repressive' atmosphere, finding his own acting ethics conflicted with those the RSC was trying to instill. His performances resulted in mixed reviews from the critics. A year later, he left the RSC to strike out on his own, doing the rounds at the rep theater companies once again.

Alan Rickman as Obadiah Slope in The Barchester ChroniclesHe landed his first TV role in 1979, when he was written into a BBC serialization of Emile Zola's Thérèse Raquin. From there, other small roles in BBC productions followed. He also continued to do theater work, appearing in several plays, including working with his friend, Peter Barnes. But it was his role as Obadiah Slope, a slimy, political character in BBC's The Barchester Chronicles, that was to prove to be a big break. He transformed Trollope's character into a smooth lady killer and formerly introduced Alan Rickman the actor to British audiences. They went wild and he was inundated with fanmail. He also began the long fight to avoid being typecast as a villain...

After The Barchester Chronicles, Rickman continued to appear in plays and TV shows, but it was his casting as the aristocrat, Vicomte de Valmont in Les Liaisons Dangereuses that was to prove a critical turning point in his career. The play was a success on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, and led to producer Joel Silver, asking him to play the role of of the intelligent thief, Hand Gruber, in a $30million action movie he was about to make. Although this was to be Rickman's big break, he observed with a touch of irony to GQ magazine in 1992, "I got Die Hard because I came cheap. They were paying Willis $7million so they had to find people they could pay nothing."

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