Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Alan Rickman: "It’s too frustrating watching yourself"

rickman1.jpg
rickman2.jpg

The late Alan Rickman on directing, drinking coffee with Harry Potter and his film A Little Chaos

A Little Chaos is the second film you’ve directed – how did it come about?

The script was sent to me a while ago by its writer Alison Deegan, who’d seen the other film I’ve directed, The Winter Guest. But it had to be put on hold because of Harry Potter. Once I was done, Kate Winslet was serendipitously the right age to play Sabine.

The story focuses on landscape gardeners in the court of Louis XIV – how much of it is true?

The character played by Matthias Schoenaerts, André Le Notre, did design the gardens at Versailles. But Sabine couldn’t have existed – that’s part of the film’s point. Women then were what they are in the rest of the film – set decoration, no other function than to look beautiful and wear nice clothes. And it’s no accident that it’s written by a woman saying, “We’re worth more than that.” The film’s historically inaccurate and completely implausible; by the time of this story, Le Notre would’ve been 70 years old. We ripped 35 years off of him – I hope the French won’t be too angry.

How was directing and starring as Louis XIV at the same time?

Not ideal – it’s too schizophrenic for me. It’s not something I’d have chosen to do, but it made the economics possible. It was a huge undertaking because we had extras, carriages and horses, and a period setting. We filmed on a flight path – we’re doing a period film and there’s a plane going over every 30 seconds. But I loved working on the film.

Harry Potter was filmed virtually year by year for a decade. How did it compare to this?

It wasn’t exactly like filming a TV series like someone said – we met for seven weeks once a year. At the time, you don’t notice the changes. It’s only when it’s all over and you’re having a coffee with Daniel Radcliffe in New York, who’s just popped down from his apartment – or going to see him starring in a Broadway musical – that you realise what’s happened in that period of time. Rupert Grint’s been on Broadway; you go on YouTube and Emma Watson’s talking to the United Nations. You realise things have happened.

How hard was it playing Snape with only the first Harry Potter books out, without knowing the character’s full development?

Hard. You couldn’t tell which way he was going. I had to pitch myself in the middle, ready to move off in whatever direction the books took. I read them as they came out. They’re a phenomenal achievement, to see kids getting lost inside this ancient thing called a book.

Did your life change? Did people on the street call you Snape?

I was smart – I played a character with black hair. So people don’t recognise me so much with my grey hair. But kids do. They always have a special expression in their eyes when they realise who I am.

You’re well known for playing Hans Gruber. Did you realise Die Hard was going to be such a hit? That it would change the action genre?

No, but I’m proud of it because nowadays every actor is seemingly looking for an action or superhero movie. In 1988 nobody was doing them. Die Hard’s lasted because of the strength of its writing. It’s witty, it has a really good story. And it has very positive black characters in it – they’re all strong. It’s not like anything’s being exploited in it.

Is it true that for Gruber’s Nakatomi Plaza fall you were deliberately dropped before the count of three, so your look of surprise was genuine?

Yes. Another reason the film’s lasted is that it doesn’t rely on special effects – there weren’t any. Everything in that film was actually done – including dropping me. Nowadays I’d be in a computer.

You’ve also been in a lot of comedies. Was Galaxy Quest as fun to film as it is to watch?

We all love that film. We all knew we were making something special – I think it’s extraordinary it’s taken this long for it to become a cult film. I’ve never even watched sci-fi, but I liked the central idea. All the cast – apart from Tim Allen – were from theatre backgrounds. There was this little theatre group, speaking the same language, then in the middle came Tim Allen. He’d kick open the door of the make-up trailer and say, “No1 is here!” He was joking, of course.

Did you enjoy being made-up as an alien?

That was a source of pride – making that head last for the whole shoot. There are wide-shots behind me where you can see my hand come up and scratch my head underneath. It’s in the film somewhere, you just see a finger.

What’s been your favourite role?

You become loyal to everything you do. A movie is two hours to most. For me, it’s maybe three or six months. It’s a lump of your life with some people somewhere.
I remember that aspect more than the movie really.

But you must have watched back your films?

No, never.

So you’ve never seen a Harry Potter film?

Apart from the premieres, no. I think there’s one I’ve never seen at all because I couldn’t go to the premiere. It’s too frustrating watching yourself – I’m happier watching other people in a film.


A Little Chaos is at cinemas now

Related

batmobile1.jpg

Here's what the new Batmobile looks like

TON__SEAN_CONNERY_saf21143.jpg

Will Sam Smith's Bond Theme Beat These Classics?

1.jpg

First Full Trailer For Fantastic Four

rexfeatures_390848jl.jpg

20 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About Die Hard

mads3.jpg

Mads Mikkelsen Is The New Face Of The Old West

Bat2.jpg

The first trailer for Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice

Comments

More

Exclusive: Sam Neill confirms he's in Thor 3

23 Sep 2016

Chris Pratt is a big deal - and we couldn't be happier for him

Chris Pratt talks to Jimi Famurewa about stripping off, the pay gap and why he’s happy to be a piece of meat

22 Sep 2016

See the hilarious War On Everyone for FREE

ShortList Film Club gives you the chance to catch it first and for free

21 Sep 2016

Morgan Spurlock's 'Rats' documentary is the biggest horror of 2016

If you weren't already terrified of rats then you will be after this by Paddy Maddison

19 Sep 2016

Why does Bill Murray have no friends?

Is there are more sinister side to why Billy 'No Mates' Murray needs to be worshipped? by Tristan Cross

15 Sep 2016

Six reasons new thriller The Clan is unmissable

by Joe Ellison

15 Sep 2016

Daniel Radcliffe has issues in exclusive clip for new Neo-Nazi drama

He's come a long way since Harry Potter by Paddy Maddison

13 Sep 2016

Stylised Sci-Fi posters bring new life to your favourite films

Your favourite Sci-Fi films reimagined by Paddy Maddison

13 Sep 2016

Mad Max without special effects is still incredible

Those of a nervous disposition may wish to look away now. by Paddy Maddison

13 Sep 2016

Does this confirm Wolverine dies in the next film?

Boyd Holbrook hints it might be the end of Logan's run

13 Sep 2016