‘From furnishings to sausages, his style was impeccable’
Probably the most exceptional factor concerning the first days after Alan died was the variety of actors, poets, musicians, playwrights and administrators who wished to precise their gratitude for all the assistance he’d given them. I don’t suppose I do know anybody on this enterprise who has championed extra aspiring artists, nor unerringly perceived so many nice ones earlier than they grew to become nice. Fairly a quantity stated that, latterly, that they had been too shy to thank him personally. That they had discovered it exhausting to method him. Of all of the contradictions in my blissfully contradictory pal, that is maybe the best: this mixture of profoundly nurturing and imperturbably distant.
He was not, in fact, distant. He was alarmingly current always. The inscrutability was partly a protecting defend. If anybody did method him with something like gratitude, and even only a query, they might be greeted with a depth of sweetness that nobody who didn’t know him may even guess at. And he was not, in fact, unflappable. I may flap him like no one’s enterprise and once I did he was fierce with me and it did me no finish of fine.
He was beneficiant and difficult. Harmful and comical. Attractive and androgynous. Virile and peculiar. Temperamental and languid. Fastidious and informal. My record is infinite. There was one thing of the sage about him – and had he had extra confidence and been in any respect corruptible, he may in all probability have began his personal faith. His style in all issues, from sausages to furnishings, appeared to me to be impeccable. The difficulty with demise is that there is no such thing as a subsequent. There may be solely what was and for that I’m profoundly and heartbrokenly grateful.
The very last thing we did collectively was change a plug on a typical lamp in his hospital room. The duty went the identical manner as every little thing we ever did collectively. I had a go. He advised me to strive one thing else. I attempted and it didn’t work so he had a go. I received impatient and took it from him and tried once more and it nonetheless wasn’t proper. We each received barely irritable. Then he patiently took all of it aside once more and received the suitable lead into the suitable gap. I screwed it in. We complained about how fiddly it was. Then we had a cup of tea. It took us no less than half an hour. He stated afterwards: “Properly, it’s a superb factor I made a decision to not be an electrician.”
‘He instructed me for a David Mamet play’
I first met Alan after a profit present on the London Palladium in 1994. At the moment, I knew and cherished his work in Die Onerous: the seriousness however lightness of contact. I keep in mind chatting to him after and telling him that I actually wished to do dramatic performing, my old flame. He stated he didn’t suppose I used to be loopy, which was good of him, however we left it at that. Subsequent, I used to be abruptly advised Alan had instructed my identify to play reverse Lindsay Duncan in a David Mamet play. It was an exquisite factor for him to do and Lindsay was a superb actor to be working with.
Later in 2003, I noticed him in New York once I was doing a play. Afterwards, all of us went to eat in a restaurant. Alan had began enjoying Professor Snape from the Harry Potter movies. He portrayed him with an intense and brittle spirit. I requested if Snape continued in future tales. “Properly,” he stated, “the newest e book has simply come out, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.” Then he quietly added: “And I – I’m the Half-Blood Prince!”
He went on to provide basic and heartbreaking performances within the Harry Potter movies that can reside with us for ever.
‘Our tortoise Betty starred in The Taming of the Shrew’
My mission in life was to make him snort and once I did it was higher than successful an Oscar. Once I hit a comedy nerve, he would fold on to the ground and heave laughing, then he’d make me heave again till we have been each on the bottom, hysterical.
We had a tortoise known as Betty, which was like our adopted little one, once we have been each acting at Stratford. (Alan performed leads, I performed seaweed together with Juliet Stevenson.) Alan promised he’d assist me get Betty right into a present. I had tried to get her into Antony and Cleopatra, telling Peter Brook, the director, in entrance of Alan, that I’d wish to audition Betty for the position of the asp. Alan nearly died, as a result of he was enjoying Antony. I do know he was partially upset as a result of Betty would have upstaged him.
Ultimately, we received Betty on stage throughout The Taming of the Shrew. Each evening, once I’d carry Betty on throughout a crowd scene, Alan proudly watched from the wings, each of us sick with laughing. He broke my coronary heart by leaving and there isn’t a day once I don’t keep in mind him.
‘Rowan was taking his time whereas Alan was performing his socks off’
I wished to forged Alan because the lead in 4 Weddings and a Funeral – earlier than we received caught with Hugh Grant – as a result of he’d been so good in a movie known as Shut My Eyes, each tender and humorous. So it was an incredible pleasure to me when Alan agreed to be in Love Truly. My strongest reminiscence was once we have been doing the purchasing scene the place Rowan Atkinson takes too lengthy wrapping Alan’s illicit present. Rowan was taking his time, doing lengthy, improvisatory takes, even chatting casually to me about concepts – whereas poor Alan was performing his socks off, in character, indignant and impatient, generally for 10 straight minutes. It was an incredible instance of true dedication. But in addition I’m fairly rattling certain by the tip Alan was truly, fairly rightly, extraordinarily indignant and very impatient.
One other factor about his efficiency: probably the most memorable scene might be Emma Thompson in her bed room, listening to Joni Mitchell after she’s found her husband’s betrayal. I’m satisfied that what makes it twice as robust is the subtlety and fact of Alan’s efficiency together with her earlier than that second. If their scenes hadn’t fully captured a correct, long-term, grownup marriage – if Alan hadn’t been so stable, so cool, so not an individual who would fall thus far – it wouldn’t have all hit so exhausting. It was an honour to know him and work with him.
‘He turned down completely OK jobs as a result of they have been simply OK’
One factor Alan couldn’t do: he couldn’t drive. And that was a blessing as a result of it meant that I may give him a raise each evening after The Seagull or The Fortunate Probability, the performs we did on the Royal Court docket. We talked within the automotive after which he’d ask me into his flat and there I received to know his spouse Rima and we’d speak politics and gossip into the early hours over bottles of wine.
In that flat, it struck me that each color, each piece of furnishings, each witty object, had been intentionally chosen and lovingly displayed and prized. Nothing was unintentional or superfluous – simply as Alan’s jobs and his political causes have been very intentionally chosen. Lengthy earlier than he was well-known, he’d inform me how he had turned down this or that seemingly completely OK job as a result of it was simply OK. It was as if he knew that life is brief and should be crammed solely with the issues that basically matter to you.
‘Do what I do, he stated throughout Quidditch – completely nothing’
The whole lot that I did as Lucius Malfoy within the Harry Potter movies was all the way down to Alan. Once they supplied me a component within the second film, I almost turned it down as a result of attempting to be sinister in the identical movie as him appeared pointless. Ultimately, I got here up with a Malfoy designed to keep away from doomed comparisons along with his effortlessly terrifying Snape: Malfoy had lengthy blond hair, a pinched, excessive voice and as many props as I may cover behind.
In individual, although, he put paid to my intimidation on my first day: we have been taking pictures a sequence the place we watched and reacted to a Quidditch match. “That is the quaffle,” stated a props man, waving a tennis ball on a stick. “And now, right here come the beaters. Right here they’re, however the keeper blocks it and, be careful, right here’s the Gryffindor seeker. And … he falls … however … HE’S GOT THE GOLDEN SNITCH!”
“I’m so sorry, Alan,” I stated. “However what’s happening? What ought to I do?”
“No concept.” he whispered. “Do what I do. Completely fucking nothing.”
Who knew! The person behind probably the most distinctive and contemptuous drawl in theatrical historical past was truly fully accessible, anarchically humorous, totally within the second on and off display screen, and a shopper of music far, way more up to date than my best-of-the-70s tastes – a degree he made mercilessly within the make-up chair as my cheese-fest blasted out.
He was additionally passionately dedicated to creating issues higher, whether or not by his many unwavering political and charitable commitments or by having, like me, busloads of children go to the set each time he labored. It would proceed to be one of many highlights of my skilled life to have shared the display screen, and the odd horrible gag, with him.
Madly, Deeply: The Alan Rickman Diaries is revealed by Canongate on 4 October at £25. To assist the Guardian and Observer, order your copy at guardianbookshop.com. Supply fees might apply.