Today, I woke up to the sad news that terrific actor and by all accounts lovely human being Alan Rickman had died at the age of 69. Even though he was never ubiquitous, Rickman was such a foundational feature of American cinema that perhaps we took him for granted in some way. He was the charming jerk we could always count on, and he brought tremendous gravitas to every role he played even if he knew the role itself was beyond silly.
It’s incredibly difficult to pick out Rickman’s “best” performances because he, like any true actor, was incredibly generous. He did what he could to best serve the overall film. It wasn’t about stealing every scene or making sure he got the juiciest moments. It was about finding something unique in the character, and making it unforgettable. He didn’t need to chew the scenery to do it, but he was always game for whatever was required. It gave him tremendous range and always made him a welcome presence.
Here are five of his best performances in a career filled with wonderful work.