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 Interview Alan Rickman - Magazine Unreel (version originale) : 

Thanks to his performances as the terrorist Hans Gruber in the original 'Die Hard' and the Sheriff of Nottingham in 'Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves' Alan Rickman is one of the quintessential screen villains. Bearing this in mind you might have thought he was better suited to the role of Lord Voldemort in this November's eagerly anticipated 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone' not Professor Snape - a part that was originally to have been played by Tim Roth. But Rickman has built a career on defying his audiences expectations.

Following his success with 'Die Hard' and 'Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves' he was inundated with offers to play more dastardly characters but he turned them down in favour of films like 'Truly Madly Deeply', 'An Awfully Big Adventure' and more recently 'Dogma' and 'Galaxy Quest'. In fact his decision to become an actor in the first place might have seemed unexpected at the time because it meant leaving the successful design agency he had set up to become a student at RADA at the not so tender age of 27.

While at RADA he supported himself working as a dresser for Nigel Hawthorne and Sir Ralph Richardson and left after winning every student award going. A long career in the theatre followed but he never really rose to prominence until he played the role of Valmont in the stage version of Les Liason Dangereuses in the West End and then on Broadway. This brought him to the attention of Hollywood and lead him to land the role of Hans Gruber in 'Die Hard'.

As an actor he brings a great deal of intelligence and invention to every role he plays, he effortlessly steals movies and acts most of his co-stars off the screen. As a person he is moved by a high degree of social concern, in fact his wife Rima Horton stood as a Labour Parliamentary candidate, but his social conscience is motivated less by a political agenda and far more by the deep seated sympathy he has for his fellow human beings. You might say it is this sympathy that allows him to play so many different characters with such unerring accuracy.


Q: Can you tell us a little about your character Professor Snape?
A: Well he's Professor of Potions and the current head of Slytherin House at Hogwarts - the school of wizardry that Harry attends, but he harbours a secret ambition to be a Professor of the Dark Arts. He isn't that taken with Harry though, probably because he finds him a little too popular for a first year pupil I suppose. I think at heart Snape is basically quite an insecure person, he's always longing to be something else that people will really respect like a black magician not just a school master. That's why he envies the more popular and successful boys like Harry. He does have his positive side though even though Harry's a thorn in his side he doesn't let it worry him too much.

Q: In the earlier part of your life you were also in a profession that you wanted to get out of so you could become something else that people would respect more, do you think this was the element of yourself that you brought to the part of Snape?
A: Hmm, that's an interesting question, I'm not sure I can answer it. I don't know if that's for me to judge you'd have to ask the people around me ... family and colleagues. You use yourself in everything you do, but at the same time you've got to have a very clear idea of another person. Otherwise I don't see how you can hand yourself over to it. He's not me. And also perhaps at particular times in your life you recognise certain parts as being closer to you now than they might have been five years ago. But no, every part has to have its own life to me - it isn't just me wiping myself across a stage or screen.

Q: Professor Snape is also a Quidditch referee, does that mean you've now mastered all of the game's rules?
A: No and I don't intend to.

Q: This first Harry Potter movie has a mainly British cast even though it's a Hollywood film, you've been quite outspoken on the problems with the British film industry, was it refreshing to be working with so many fellow Brits?
A: The thing I like best about working with British actors is the approach they take to their work, because they're not as likely to become famous making British films they don't have as inflated a sense of their own importance as some American stars can develop. It's like [director] Chris [Columbus] said 'there's not a sense of ego with any of the stars, none of that Hollywood stuff. Everyone just comes in to do their work. Nobody has a cook or a personal trainer'. I think everyone found that refreshing.

Q: So what is it like to be a British actor working mainly in Hollywood then?
A: When you get off the plane in England, you've got to shrug a little bit, hug yourself into your coat a bit more. I stand straighter in L.A. It's something about how the English are brought up, and what we're told we can expect. Maybe it's because I drive a car in L.A., and I don't here. I feel more in charge of myself. I wouldn't dream of being out there as an actor looking for work. To actually say 'OK, I'm going to pitch a tent here and wave a flag saying EMPLOY ME' - I couldn't do that. But I enjoy being there: It's disgusting and wonderful. Like going to Dunkin' Donuts for lunch every day.

Q: Director Chris Columbus said his young daughter Eleanor was a great help as an unofficial consultant on the film because she was such a big fan of the Harry Potter books. Did you have any young consultants yourself?
A: My two young nieces Claire and Amy have both read the books, I didn't consultant them on my performance but I like to spend time with them whenever I can. We do all those daft things - movies, McDonald's, Hamleys. One time I told them we'd walk through Hamleys to choose one thing each. They marched straight to the Barbie counter - I couldn't believe it - hideous little dolls with pointed legs and breasts. My sister doesn't dress them in pink or bows. However, if I had children, I'd like to think I'd let them wear whatever they wanted. None of my friends would believe me, but I'd let them walk down the road in pink Lurex and gold plastic.

Q: Or attend a school for wizardry and witchcraft?
A: Even that.

Q: Alan thank you very much for your and good luck with the film.
A: Thank you, it's been a pleasure.








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