John Sessions impersonates Alan Rickman on QI in 2008
Alan Rickman, the celebrated English actor known as much for his imposing roles as his iconic voice, passed away some six years ago, but left behind a stunning collection of personal diaries which have been released this week. In the diaries, which run between 1993 and his death in 2016, the London-born legend recalls in intimate detail some of the most important moments in his career, and that of the wider world, reflecting on everything from the September 11 tragedy to the 7/7 bombings. Titled Madly, Deeply: The Alan Rickman Diaries, the Die Hard actor also details the encounters he had while brushing shoulders with heavyweights from all walks of life. Among them were the likes of Queen Elizabeth II, former Prime Minister Tony Blair, and Hollywood pin-ups like Ben Kingsley. Here, Express.co.uk takes a look through some of the book’s biggest moments, unearthing five things we’ve learned about Rickman.
How he thought Daniel Radcliffe’s career would really turn out
Perhaps Rickman’s most cherished role with the younger generation came through his portrayal of Hogwarts’ potions teacher Severus Snape. His brilliant performance as Harry Potter’s nemesis saw him win over a new legion of fans across the globe in what is among cinema’s biggest ever franchises. He was among a brilliant cast for the eight-film series, which included Dame Maggie Smith, Sir Michael Gambon, Robbie Coltrane, Dame Julie Walters and Dame Emma Thompson.
But when it came to the leading actor Daniel Radcliffe’s performances in the saga, Rickman was unsure whether the star would actually continue with the profession after the series ended. In an extract on May 2, 2003, a year after Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets was released, Rickman wrote: “[Radcliffe]’s so concentrated now. Serious and focused – but with a sense of fun. I still don’t think he’s really an actor but he will undoubtedly direct/produce. And he has such quiet, dignified support from his parents. Nothing is pushed.”
Radcliffe would go on to continue acting, earning acclaim in films such as The Woman in Black, Horns and Escape from Pretoria.
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His blunt exchange with Tony Blair over George W. Bush administration
Rickman was always clear throughout his life that when it came to politics he supported the Labour Party. He went so far as to even claim that he “was born a card-carrying member of the Labour Party”. But that didn’t stop him being critical of it, particularly about Prime Minister Tony Blair’s relationship with former US President George W. Bush.
In an entry recorded on May 17, 2003, Rickman notes an encounter he had with Blair when he was invited to the Prime Minister’s holiday home Chequers. He detailed how when he arrived he was greeted by Academy Award-winning actor Ben Kingsley, and then TV’s Richard & Judy, before Blair and his wife Cherie emerged with “three-year-old Leo in his arms, in pyjamas”.
Though he was initially unable to speak to Blair, when leaving after dinner, Rickman managed to have a word. He said to Blair: “’Well, thank God you’re in the room with those maniacs [members of the Bush administration].’ [Blair] raised an eyebrow or two and said: ‘Yes … it’s been … difficult.’ And we drove away, [Blair] silhouetted in the grand doorway in his off-white chinos and blue open-necked shirt.”
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Alan Rickman in his younger years as an actor
His horror at the London bombings
Among the tragedies that Rickman recounts in his diaries include the London bombings, known as the 7/7 bombings. On July 7, 2005, 56 people were killed, including the four bombers, in the capital after Islamist terrorists targeted commuters travelling on the city’s public transport system during rush hour. Homemade bombs were let off in quick succession on the London Underground, as well as a double-decker bus in Tavistock Square.
Rickman noted on the day how his euphoria at London being awarded the 2012 Olympic games the day before had been totally forgotten, leading to “numbness”. He continued: “Bush has the nerve to talk of ‘the killing of innocent people’ and Blair feels it necessary to use his ‘I am moved’ voice. Real tragedy wherever you look from whatever angle but threaded with hypocrisy as ever. BBC Newsnight has [Jeremy] Paxman pressing his tired old buttons on, of all people, Tony Benn, who as far as I can see is making perfect sense.”
He added: “We stayed home all day. Answered worried phone calls. Watched TV. Stared at it all.”
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The Queen and Tony Blair both featured in Rickman’s diaries
How Rickman had to ‘accept place’ in Establishment during meeting with Queen
In an extract dated June 8, 2004, he recalls meeting the Queen, as well as returning back to Mansion House, for a Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) lunch. He wrote: “The snapshots would be of milling about, people looking suddenly older, some in hats and palaver, men in red uniforms holding pikestaffs (the ones in glasses letting the side down).
“A feeling of having to accept our place in the Establishment, or not. Vivienne Westwood was there, for heaven’s sake. The Queen in yellow, laughing at Richard Wilson. But mostly – looking up to the gallery at the T-shirted students looking down – the sense of 30 years. And a shy pride at being there once.”
Rickman’s relationship with RADA would continue for much of his life. He attended the school between 1972 and 1974. In 1993 he was elected to the council of the institution. He then became RADA’s vice-chairman and a member of its artistic advisory and training committees and development board.
Alan Rickman died in 2016
His fury with the Labour Party
As previously mentioned, Rickman’s relationship with the Labour Party had lasted the entirety of his life. But his fury with Blair over the Iraq War and his relationship with Bush brought into question his bond with the political outfit.
On the morning of September 9, 2006, Rickman lashes out at Charles Clarke, who was the MP for Norwich South between 1997 and 2010. During his time in the party, he was Home Secretary from December 2004 until May 2006.
In one snapping remark, Rickman said: “Somewhere in here, pathetic behaviour from the Labour party – totally out of touch with the real world, institutionalised, cannibalistic, egomaniacal, bitter, twisted and stupid. Charles Clarke – never trust a man with two-day growth, who also stuffs his face that much. Blair, of course, nips off to Israel for a swift bit of statesmanship.”
Madly, Deeply: The Alan Rickman Diaries, published by Canongate Books, is available here.