I am sorry to be the one to discuss such bad news for the third time this week. By now you would have heard that another of our bright shining stars has passed.
Alan Rickman, the devious Professor Snape as we all knew him, passed on today from cancer. He kept his private life private, and so for many of us it came unexpectedly.
Whether you first saw him as the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves – 1991, Judge Turpin in the horror musical Sweeny Todd – 2007, as Professor Snape in the Harry Potter franchise, or some other non-villainous role, he was an actor that drew us in. I first saw him as the dark horse (Colonel Brandon) in the movie adaptation of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility. Even then he exuded the mystery and intrigue of the underdog, the man that knows hidden secrets no one else in the room is aware of.
But why is Alan Rickman so important to horror addicts? Because he portrayed perhaps the most relatable villain of our times. As Professor Snape, he inspired love for the villain in children and adults around the globe. As the resident Goth at Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry, Snape gave us hope that true villains weren’t gone. He also showed us how living in a world of preppy witches can be endured given the proper underlying plan. Like many of us, Snape rode the line between good and evil, he survived among the norms because he had to, but yet never gave up his horror lifestyle.
Some may say that Rowling (not Rickman) wrote Snape and all he did was act out a part, but if you read the Harry Potter books before the movie series started, you may see it as I do. Alan brought Professor Snape to life in a way that even the author couldn’t have understood. She wrote this devious dude who kept terrorizing children, but Alan gave him depth. He seemed to understand the character on an intimate level, one we horror addicts must applaud. Rowling is not a horror addict. She doesn’t understand us the way Rickman’s Snape could. He made it cool to root for the villain, understandable to relate to a guy that just wasn’t as lucky as “wonder boy” Potter. It’s all about viewpoint, and Rickman showed the world what the lifestyle of a horror addict is really like. Sure, we may not have fabulous robes and live in a castle, but we are out here whether the muggles know it or not.
So I will miss Alan for all of his roles, from Colonel Brandon to his sarcastic angel character in Dogma, but the horror genre has him to thank for influencing and inspiring a whole generation of little addicts that didn’t even understand their fascination with his dark coolness until they got older. He taught them it’s okay to wear black. It’s okay to be haunted by traumas from childhood and it’s even okay to creep around a scary old castle keeping your dark corners to yourself and being different from everyone around you.
Thank you, Alan, for all the entertainment given us, but thank you most of all from the horror addicts for promoting, through your excellent portrayal of Professor Snape, our unique lifestyle.