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Alan Rickman Thought I Was An Idiot
February 4, 2016
Fans of film, theatre and deep-voiced awesomeness were left
devastated by the death of Alan Rickman, and I was no exception.
Like the rest of the world, I loved his dastardly, sexy villains, complex heroes and hilarious comedy turns too. What does make me slightly different, however, is that I’d got my very own Alan Rickman story and it didn’t involve either of us being our best selves. The truth is, Alan Rickman thought I was an idiot.
It all started so promisingly. My goal as a student journalist was to get paid to write about movies so, as part of my course, I took an entertainment module. Our tutor was a brilliant old school showbiz journo who had no time for excuses or bad writing. So the day in which he announced our homework was to be a celebrity interview that we’d sourced and completed ourselves was a pretty scary one. After all, my phone book wasn’t bursting with ‘A’ list contacts.
So I decided to go rogue. I got myself a ticket to see Private Lives starring Alan Rickmanand Lindsay Duncan at the Albery Theatre, London and planned to doorstep him. This was a bold move from a 24-year-old with zero showbiz experience, but miraculously it paid off. As the small crowd asking for autographs trailed off, I took my chance, and I addressed the great man himself.
‘Hello Mr Rickman, my friend bet me £20 you wouldn’t agree
to be interviewed by my for a university project.’
He turned his head to me, arched an eyebrow and considered for a moment.
‘If you spend that £20 on a ticket to my show, come to the backstage door tomorrow at 2 pm and agree you will never publish
the interview in the press, I will do it,”
I couldn’t believe my luck.
This was my chance. I was going to ace the class and become best friends with Alan Rickman. There was no possible way he couldn’t love me as much as I loved him. We were a match made in heaven, both fans of film, theatre and lefty politics. All I needed to do was get the right batteries for my Dictaphone.
Sadly, Alan hadn’t got the memo about us becoming best mates.
I can’t tell you what he said to me because he made me sign a legal agreement at the door to swear I’d never publish his words. What I can tell you is that he was no fan of my questions, no fan of my incessant rambling and no fan of me in general. The worst thing of all is that he was quite right. Looking back now, I was a bit ridiculous. All nervy, overwhelmed and stilted. He could have been a little kinder to me, but he did me the biggest favour in the world by agreeing to be interviewed in the first place. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all bad. We found common ground on our mutual appreciation of filmmaker Kevin Smith, there were lighted moments, and he was never rude to me. It just wasn’t the experience I’d dreamed it could be – he wasn’t peak Alan Rickman.
Since that time, I’ve interviewed a lot of well-known people, and some of them haven’t been winning encounters either. But what’s different about Alan Rickman is that despite my deep shame at not making him like me and doing a woefully poor interview, I still loved every performance he gave. I marvel at his talent, I’m captivated by his characters and I can’t even hold his choice of mates against him; I love Emma Thompson too. Alan Rickman’s death is a horrible, senseless thing and I wish he were alive, well and about to deliver another incredible performance. I also wish I’d got the chance to meet and interview him again when I was a fully-qualified journalist and used to speaking to people off the telly. I reckon we could have been best mates.