Colin Firth Remembers Alan Rickman: He "Took Me Under His Wing"

Colin Firth and Alan Rickman - H 2016
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"He offered personal wisdom, not actor-y advice," the actor tells THR.

A version of this story first appeared in the Jan. 29 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

I’ve always been a little bit in awe of Alan because he’s always been incredibly solicitous of me. I wasn’t long out of drama school when I first met him. I was quite green and unsure of myself. He seemed to have an instinct for people who were in need of guidance of some kind. This is something I noticed in him in all the contact I’ve had with him over 30 years. He looked out for people.

I’m in my mid-50s now — our age difference isn’t that vast — but I always saw him not as an older person but as someone who took me under his wing. Our paths crossed. He had a lot of social and political engagements. I ran into him when we went to see Mandela speak in Trafalgar Square. Alan had been very committed to the anti-apartheid movement. Alan had actually been one of the people who held vigils outside the South African Embassy during those years.

More than that, we would run into each other at friends’ houses. It just kept happening. I actually found myself calling him for advice for things. I just felt he was the right person to ask for those sort of things. I played Valmont in Milos Forman’s adaptation of Les Liaisons Dangereuses. I called Alan to talk to him about his experience playing the role. I remember him saying, “Playing it can have a strange effect on a person.”

He offered personal wisdom, not actor-y advice. There are some people you didn’t know how much they meant to you until you miss them, and I think Alan is one of those people. He wasn’t a person I expected to see on a daily basis, but I didn’t realize how important it was to me to have Alan there until we got the news. It was devastating. You run into people and they all seem to have some story about what Alan meant to them.