Tribute to Alan Rickman

04/02/2016 14:19 GMT | Updated 04/02/2017 10:12 GMT

Alan Rickman died two weeks ago and I am broken, as is everyone else who knew him. I just wanted to share a few more words about him.

I first saw Alan in 1976 at the Edinburgh Festival. I was with a friend of his, who pointed him out saying casually "Do you want to meet Alan Rickman?". I don't remember much, but I stared and turned into my 13 year old self: teeth protruding, hunched back, "Oh hi Alan do you have curly hair on purpose?". He said something about it being for a play but I wasn't listening; he was gorgeous and I had my first whiff of what charisma looks like up close. I was determined from that point, even though it was a rocky start, to make him my friend against all odds. It didn't start out well. He was looking at me with slight disgust - as he did throughout our 38 years together.

This could have been a one-night stand but for some bolt of destiny. We were brought together again. I followed him into Sheffield Rep. They were doing a production of As You Like It. I played a wench called Audrey, and Alan was Jacques.

Playing Audrey, it was easier to watch Alan each night and move in like a parasite after the shows to suck out his friendship. He was magnificent, I stood there gormless - luckily I could say it was part of my character. Each night I had the privilege of hearing his magnificent tones speak Shakespeare. I didn't know it was supposed to make sense or rhyme. Who knew?

I think I finally won his heart one night, when in an Indian restaurant they were playing sitar music...loudly. I called over the waiter and asked why should we listen to that when we could just kick a cat? Alan was amused and from then on I knew my mission was to make him laugh, my only trump card.

After Sheffield, I knew he was going to the RSC and I knew I needed to follow him, so I wrote a note to Joyce Nettles, the casting director. I knew they were doing As You Like It so I wrote to Joyce to ask that if the girl playing Phoebe died could I take over? She said she didn't think that would happen but did I want to audition? I did an audition, no one will forget and I don't think it meant good. I don't recall getting an acceptance letter but I just showed up with my makeup box and, to Alan's surprise, I was there on stage with him again. It didn't matter I was playing a dog and a rubbish bag (small parts in this production of The Tempest).

I convinced Alan to share a house with me while in Stratford and to this day I do not know how. We called our home Shakespeare's Sauna because the rooms were decorated in pine wood and aluminium foil. I'd bring American tourists there telling them it was indeed where Shakespeare had his spa treatments until Alan put a stop to it. At some point we bought a tortoise and called it Betty which made us the official parents. For our amusement, we used to feed her peanut butter to watch her try to chew with no teeth. We'd invite other people over to watch. Please don't tell anyone this. I remember once Alan and I were walking to the theatre and ran into Peter Brooke who was about to direct Antony and Cleopatra. I mentioned to Peter that I'd like to put Betty up for the part of the snake and that she would play nude. Alan turned away and pretended to study a wall close up. Juliet Stevenson ended up getting Betty's part.

Then came him playing Valmont in Les Liasons Dangereuses from Stratford to Broadway and he became a rock star. Lindsay Duncan said that after the show most of the audience wanted to have sex, most of them with Alan Rickman.

And, I don't have to go on about Snape - a cult figure. When I used to tell people I knew Snape in real life, which I often did, they would lie prostrate before me. Also, I got reservations in many a restaurant.

No matter who he played, in real life, no one was more generous. I don't know how many people he supported emotionally and to all his friends who asked for it , he advised advised advised and was always right... A silent investor in people. He certainly did with my kids.

I'm not going to say goodbye because he's in all his friends and family - right there just under our skin we hear him, see him and love him more than life itself.


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