Alan Rickman has died at 69 - young, really - dead from cancer, leaving this earth "surrounded by family and friends," which, if you must go, is the way to exit, I suppose.
Rickman had a stage and film career spanning decades, including turns in perennial favourites like Die Hard and Love, Actually. He's performed in everything from Shakespeare to historical drama (Rasputin, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Sense and Sensibility) but it is for his perfect turn as the (very) flawed hero Professor Severus Snape in Harry Potter that his loss is felt hard by this particular household. Snape has been a catalyst for conversations about love and duty, obligation, good and evil, cruelty for greater good, even debate about buttons on pant cuffs. He brought "pause-the-show-we-need-to-talk-about-this-scene-right-now" to movie night, something formerly punishable by banishment from the family room.
Rickman brought Snape to life I would argue moreso than any other actor as any other character in the entire Harry Potter series, and considering the complicated layers of so many of the characters, this was a feat to be commended. There's a scene in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows where Snape is new Headmaster of Hogwarts, having killed the previous tenant of the position. Harry returns to commence battle with Snape, a man he believes to have killed Dumbledore meaninglessly. The school staff turn and support Harry, and Snape must maintain his secret role as cruel master to preserve Harry's safety. Professor McGonagall raises her wand at Snape and he hesitates - slightly, but he hesitates. That's it. That's it right there. It's Snape in a moment and suddenly we understand. Rickman reveals a huge hidden part of the series narrative with only his eyes, only a look, but in an instant he allows us to see both Snape's past and his future, and we just get it.
In 2011, Rickman wrote a goodbye of sorts to Harry Potter fans:
"I have just returned from the dubbing studio where I spoke into a microphone as Severus Snape for absolutely the last time. On the screen were some flashback shots of Daniel, Emma, and Rupert from ten years ago. They were 12. I have also recently returned from New York, and while I was there, I saw Daniel singing and dancing (brilliantly) on Broadway. A lifetime seems to have passed in minutes.
Three children have become adults since a phone call with Jo Rowling, containing one small clue, persuaded me that there was more to Snape than an unchanging costume, and that even though only three of the books were out at that time, she held the entire massive but delicate narrative in the surest of hands.
It is an ancient need to be told in stories. But the story needs a great storyteller. Thanks for all of it, Jo."
The letter in Empire magazine was Rickman's goodbye to Professor Severus Snape, the "bravest man" Harry knew.
And now we say goodbye to Alan Rickman.
Image Source: Flickr, Warner Bros.