Alan Rickman talks about DIE HARD

It’s hard to imagine that an actor who garners as much respect as Alan Rickman got his start on the big screen beside Bruce Willis as the blonde-haired, German super-villain Hans Gruber in DIE HARD (1988). Though he had previously worked in television and, more notably, in theatre as a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, it’s an action flick that marks Rickman’s film debut at age 42. This decision surprised a lot of people, but when DIE HARD’s director and producer saw him on Broadway in Liaisons and approached him about the film, Rickman was enthusiastic. “Doing DIE HARD was a big holiday for me because I didn’t have to go onstage every night. It was also something I’d never done before, and I like that in life.”

I believe he chose wisely. Even though I have a penchant for period dramas and Rickman’s starred in more than a few, DIE HARD is not only my favorite Rickman film, it’s one of my favorite films ever. In a time when action movies are over-produced to the point of inauthenticity, DIE HARD feels real and, perhaps more importantly, believable. Bruce Willis/John McClane feels human. He’s a badass but he’s not indestructible, and I love watching him get bloodier, sweatier and deliriously exhausted throughout the movie. And even though Willis is the star, it’d be tough to see him battle any other villain than Rickman’s Gruber. With his imperfect German accent and obvious stage credentials, Rickman owns a role that could have, with another actor, gone the way of goofy action slapstick.

He’s played a variety of characters, but Rickman is still best known for his villains. When asked about it in the past he’s answered “It’s probably because the way my face is put together. I’m a lot less serious than most people think.” Rickman went to have an illustrious career in film, but this coming Tuesday, February 8th, the venerable actor celebrates his cinematic roots with a post DIE HARD screening Q&A at BAM, where his latest theatrical role in Ibsen’s John Gabriel Borkman is now coming to a close.

DIE HARD at BAM is sold-out.