Most of us have by now heard the news that British actor Alan Rickman passed away on January 14, 2016 — a week ago today. He appeared in some wonderful plays & movies, portrayed many unforgettable and iconic roles, and will be greatly missed by fans of all ages. My favorite Alan Rickman movies/roles: Die Hard (1988), Truly Madly Deeply (1990), Sense & Sensibility (1995), Galaxy Quest (1999), Bottleshock (2008), and, of course, his portrayal of Prof. Severus Snape in the Harry Potter movies (2001-2011). And who could forget his appearance in Victoria Wood’s BBC Christmas Special: “Plots & Proposals” (2000)?
His movie persona also helped me personally in a major writing project that I just finished. Back in 2008 I began writing a novel. The working title was the veterinary medical thriller. Later, the working title became Play Dead. It is now set to be published as The Keys of Death.
While I was working on it, I remembered some advice I heard somewhere about creating memorable characters: “Would a great actor want to play this role?”
Most of the time I do not have a specific person in mind when I build a character, but when writing The Keys of Death I based one character specifically on Alan Rickman. When I wrote this character’s dialogue and described his mannerisms, I vividly pictured Rickman in my mind acting the role and heard that one-of-a-kind voice in my head. As a fiction author, it really helped me to bring this character to life in my mind and hopefully on the page.
The character’s name is Dr. David Brightman. He makes his first appearance in Chapter 2 of The Keys of Death, which you can download and read by clicking this link:
Chapter 2 “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”
There’s another connection to Alan Rickman in The Keys of Death: a scene near the end of the book was “inspired” by Anthony Minghella’s film adaptation of the Samuel Beckett stage production Play. The three characters in it were portrayed by Alan Rickman, Juliet Stevenson, and Kristin Scott Thomas. It’s a really odd piece, but here’s a link to it: Play (2001). When (if) you watch it, you will realize why I put the word inspired in quotes, above, since the scene in my book is a vision of Hell. (Really!)
The Keys of Death will be available for purchase this weekend on Amazon, then hopefully at other online venues once I make the file conversions.
I hope you enjoy the sample chapter! Now get out there and geek out about Alan Rickman with the collection of links below:
J.K. Rowling reveals ‘Harry Potter’ secret she told Alan Rickman by Kelly West, 1-20-16
This article is interesting, because I suspect Alan Rickman and possibly the other filmmakers knew something about Snape’s back story and true character as early as The Prisoner of Azkaban. Near the end of that movie, many of the characters are gathered around the base of the Whomping Willow and Lupin turns into a werewolf. The werewolf turns menacingly toward the three children and Snape. Snape shoves the children behind him and spreads out his arms to protect them. It’s a quick moment, subtly portrayed, but I’ve always loved it because it betrays that Snape’s “swooping about the castle like an overgrown bat” is his persona, but his true self is good and protective.
Alan Rickman Died of Pancreatic Cancer: Report by Charlotte Libov, 1-15-16
Truly, Madly, Deeply: Remembering Alan Rickman in Six Movie Scenes
The trailer for Alan Rickman’s last full performance is here by Huw Fullerton, 1-21-16
Alan Rickman on importance of listening when acting (2010)
Alan Rickman Wikipedia article
Alan Rickman IMDB entry
Alan Rickman Biography entry
Alan Rickman, Harry Potter and Die Hard actor, dies aged 69 by 1-14-16