Safe travels, good sir.
Snape is dead. For real. Alan Rickman, the 69-year-old British actor whose vast career saw him rise from the theatrical stages of London to the heights of Hollywood fame, has died.
And despite all the roles he played through the years — despite being the sort of actor whose mere name in any opening credit scenario gave the flick ultimate cred in ways that most other actors can only ever dream of — Rickman's ultimate worldwide legacy will always remain his recurring portrayal of the enigmatic Professor Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films.
Now that he's gone, it's time for the rest of us to admit that it seems almost impossible to imagine that anyone other than Rickman might have even come close in their depiction of Snape, the enigmatic, conflicted potion king of the Potter world.
London-born Rickman brought his hard-earned stage chops to the big screen when he took on one of author J.K. Rowling's most memorable characters. Playing Snape in much the same way he might have played King Lear on film, Rickman managed to find in Snape a sympathetic darkness.
There was always this faint air of tragedy wafting around the Professor. And it's arguable that the reappearing Rickman/Snape combo lifted one of the most lucrative and loved franchises in Hollywood history further up off the ground than we gave him credit for.
But Alan Rickman was so much more than just a part of the Harry Potter legacy.
Die Hard. Michael Collins. Love Actually, which you just watched last month around the holidays with a bottle of wine in front of you and a big old tub of Bridget Jones ice cream tucked up in your lap. You cried. You love that movie. You're not alone; I'm with you. I'm a 44-year-old divorced rock-n-roller and I'm with you, my friend.
And so, maybe above and beyond everything else he accomplished in a life well-played, we realize that Alan Rickman is part of our collective Christmas canon too now, forever and ever. That's a pretty wonderful thing to be able to say about someone as we say goodbye to them.
Anyway, I'll leave you with this.
About ten years ago, after the Harry Potter films had kicked off and Alan Rickman had become a household face, if not a name, I was in the middle of a long European tour with my band, Marah. We were in London for a few shows and had a night off, so my brother and I and a few of the other guys wandered from our hotel down into Notting Hill, to one of our favorite pubs called The Cow.
We'd been there maybe an hour or so and even though the place was always crowded, I'd managed to get myself a sliver of space to belly up to the bar itself. I was having a pint and a smoke when I turned around to check out the scene, maybe see if there was a gorgeous English girl possibly checking me out (there rarely was).
The face I saw was Snape. The face right behind my head, practically breathing down my neck as he vied for the bartender's attention (desperate for a pint like the rest of us, I'm sure) was the face of Alan Rickman.
I almost dropped my drink, but I kept my cool. My heart went mad, smashing a new hard beast down in my chest. There weren't too many people in this world who I'd spin around and encounter unexpectedly and break out with the fan boy shakes. He was one of those people.
I was now face-to-face with one of the premier actors of my lifetime and I held all the magic in my hands.
Snape needed a pint.
"Good evening, sir," I said to him as calmly as I could. He looked me in the eyes and smiled, and it was at that exact moment that I clocked that he was wearing a long dark coat and a winter scarf and that he appeared as if he'd just come in from out of the London cold.
He looked pleasantly familiar with the pub. He looked as if he'd drank his beer here before.
"Hello." That's all he said. But that was good enough for me.
I stepped back away from the crowded bar but held my hand to the wood to keep dibs on the spot until Mr. Alan Rickman could notice and understand in full that I was offering him my little stretch of England so he could get his drink.
He noticed. He smiled again. It was the Love Actually smile, in case you're wondering. And he nodded as he said, "Ahh, thank you so very much."
He got his pint. I wandered off.
A cool little moment in this world is what life is all about. That could've been anyone on Earth trying to get a beer behind me on that London night long ago. But it wasn't. It was Alan Rickman. It was Snape. It was one of the greats, and I'm really glad about that.
Safe travels, sir. You owe me a spot at the bar.