I’ve never had such a strong reaction when someone famous has died before. In fact, I’ve always thought people who got upset might be over reacting… just a tad.
Oh boy, how wrong was I?
I was out shopping when I heard. I got five messages and a phone call telling me that Alan Rickman, my all time favourite actor, had died. I was the first person everyone thought of when they heard the news.
It’s so hard to explain. I never met him, but I admired him from afar (and fancied him!) for years. A new Alan Rickman film was a Big Deal in my life. I’d take (sometimes drag) every last one of my friends and family to go see it, regardless of genre. From Sweeney Todd, to Perfume, to A Little Chaos, I’ve always been first in line.
I remember on my 23rd birthday, my husband (then boyfriend) took me to the Trafford Centre and let me loose in HMV. It was snowing. I remember it so vividly. I bought five Alan Rickman films with my birthday money. We went home and ate junk food and watched them all in one day. It was honestly one of my best birthdays!
And Snape. How amazing — how perfect! — was Alan Rickman as Snape? He was, and is, my favourite character in the Harry Potter series. He’s not nice, he’s not polite. He’s petty and flawed and unbelievably brave. There’s beauty to be found in that character, both on the page and on the screen.
Every Christmas we have an Alan Rickman fest. We start with Die Hard — a staple for every Christmas period, IMO — then Robin Hood, then Snow Cake. Occasionally I even manage to persuade my husband to watch Love Actually. I associate Alan Rickman films with Christmas, birthdays, special days, days with family and friends. I associate him with good times. I own every last one of his films (two of which are in Spanish, because they were so hard to find in English) I keep them all on a shelf, all together, so I can grab them whenever I need them. Whenever I need a pick-me-up.
So I’ve learnt today that it’s OK to cry over losing someone you’ve never met. It’s OK to be affected profoundly by an artist’s work, and personality, and spirit. It’s OK to mourn.
I’m crying. I’ll admit it. I’m officially one of those people who “over react” when a famous person dies. I’m sat at my desk, crying as I write this. Crying about a man I never met. I might not have known him, but I knew his work. His talent mattered to me, and millions of others. His talent still matters. And it always will. Always.