Alan Rickman Nearly Turned Down His Career-Defining Die Hard Role
He's remembered fondly as one of film's all-time greatest actors. But it may surprise you to learn that the late, great Alan Rickman almost turned down the role that ended up jump-starting his Hollywood career.
The English star cemented his name as one of the greatest movie villains in history with his award-winning portrayal of jet black-haired potions professor, Severus Snape, in the Harry Potter series. However, it was his part in Die Hard that got the ball rolling.
Rickman bowled audiences over with his acting work as German criminal mastermind, Hans Gruber, in the 1988 action classic, which turns 30 years old following its US release on 20th July. But incredibly, he almost didn't take the role.
Rickman had only been in LA for two days when he received the movie's script and as he recalled during a speech at a BAFTA celebration of his work, he wasn't exactly blown away at first.
"I didn't know anything about LA. I didn't know anything about the film business ... I'd never made a film before, but I was extremely cheap," he said. However, after reading the script, his initial response was: "What the hell is this? I'm not doing an action movie.
"Agents and people said: 'Alan, you don't understand, this doesn't happen. You've only been in L.A. two days, and you've been asked to do this film'. "
The star, who was just 41 years old at the time, was sceptical at first but after a thorough read he was eventually won over by the wit of the script and the progressive casting and storyline.
"Every single black character in that film is positive and highly intelligent," he said. "So, 28 years ago, that's quite revolutionary, and quietly so."
Despite Die Hard being his first Hollywood film, Rickman was still bold enough to make suggestions and voice opinions about the script and production.
He was the one who decided it would be more interesting for Gruber to wear a suit and brazenly left notes saying so on producer Joel Silver's desk.
"I got Joel saying, 'Get the hell out of here, you'll wear what you're told'. But when I came back, I was handed a new script. It showed that it pays to have a little bit of theatre training."
Although he said he was nervous around the guns at first - "If you look carefully, you'll see me blinking," he said - Rickman quickly settled into playing a sneering, psychotic terrorist.
"It is shocking how thrilling it is to shoot a machine gun, that I discovered."
Die Hard is now regarded as a genre-defining movie and one of the highlights of Rickman's career. And to think, it almost could have been so different.
Featured Image Credit: 20th Century Fox