That may not mean anything to you, but I promise you, millions of women around the world felt their hearts break a little, tiny bit with the news. Millions of women who over the years willingly and easily forfeited a small piece of their hearts and fell in love, just a little, with Alan Rickman. I know, because I was one of them.
Men surely must think to themselves: “Who? The baddie from Die Hard? Him? The guy who told his henchmen to shoot the windows? Why on Earth?”
They are right, to a degree. Alan Rickman was a strange choice of a crush, an odd man to get sweaty and swoon-y about. He wasn’t the best looking or the most muscular; he could even be a little pasty at times, a little doughy round the middle. His nose was beakish and his eyes were squinty. Yet I promise you I am far from the only gal who swooned every time his name was mentioned. On more than one occasion I witnessed a virtual smack-down on a mommy board about who loved him more. On more than one occasion I have referred to him as my Hollywood boyfriend.
He remains an unlikely sex symbol. He wasn’t the most obvious choice for heart flutters and butterflies. But oh, that voice. That smooth, honey drip of a voice that sinewed and slid into your eardrums and snaked its way straight to your heart and turned it into a mushy mess. Or maybe it was just me.
My husband, knowing how much I adored him, used to walk around saying “Shoot.the. windows.” in a fairly decent impersonation of that syrup drawl. Today when he called to tell me the news of his death, I told him the phrase was hovering in a no-fly zone.
“Too soon?” he asked.
“Too soon,” I said.
Most of us loved the man Rickman because we loved the men he played on-screen. And we loved the men he played on-screen because hidden in those men are the men we all long to fall in love with. Often there was more than a little bit of the men we did fall in love with. He was Everyman, yet just an every man, and that’s exactly what was so endearing about him. He was nothing special, and yet so very special. From Colonel Brandon to Severus Snape there was always a humming undercurrent of longing which electrified those men and elevated them from two-dimensional characters to men you wanted to bring home; to your mother, to your bed. On some level, most of us yearn for someone to pine for us the way Colonel Brandon pines for Marianne Dashwood, someone who will wait for us, who will forgive us our imperfections, who will indeed, revel in them.
That is what so many women found attractive and sexy. That is what women swooned over.
Even in his most hated moments, when his callous, selfish, dick-ish behavior caused Emma Thompson to hold back tears in Love Actually you couldn’t help but think to yourself this is a man I could marry; perhaps even a little this is the man I did marry. A man deep enough to sink your teeth into, a man who would allow his ghost self to fade quietly into the afterlife just so you could find love again; a man who would watch from afar, just to make sure you’re happy.
That’s why women loved him, because he played so well the men we all want to love, who we want to love us back. Yes, even the prick he played in Love Actually.
They were characters of course, but Alan Rickman was the man who brought those characters to life–he brought them into our living rooms and movie theaters and in so many cases, our mushy hearts. He made us love them, all those perfect imperfect men. And in doing so, made us love him.
So excuse me while I stitch back up the little hole in my heart.