Top Performances is a recurring feature in which we definitively handpick the very best performances from an iconic actor or actress. This article was originally published in 2006.
He was the villain. Until he wasn’t.
You can take this angle on the late Alan Rickman in two ways. The first is his film career, in which the actor set himself up to be a go-to heavy for years to come. His Hans Gruber in Die Hard was the perfect foil for Bruce Willis’ John McClaine — the former neat, succinct, calculating while the latter was a mess, foulmouthed, and always improvising. Then there was the scenery-chewing performance as the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, a movie oft-maligned but not because of Rickman. Far from it.
These evil performances were not an indication of what would follow. Most of Rickman’s future, post-Robin Hood roles found him playing good people or at least non-terrorist/murderers. You could root for most of the characters on the following list without feeling bad or ashamed (shhhh #teamgruber).
The second take on the villain/not a villain lands in the world of Harry Potter. Is it safe to spoil now? Better not, though I guess I already did. Read on.
Alan Rickman’s career began on the stage, but it was his performances on screen that took him across the world. It’s there where he’ll live on forever. We now present to you a celebration of his greatest performances. Some evil, some good…
— Justin Gerber