Turning A Villain Into A Hero: Alan Rickman

SVT2015~ By Sarah Vance-Tompkins

I fell in love with Alan Rickman in Truly, Madly, Deeply, a sweet indie movie about finding closure after the loss of a love.

I had no idea how good he was at being bad until I saw him as Hans Gruber in Die Hard.

Dressed in a Saville Row suit, with a vaguely European accent, he bursts onto the screen, opposite some delicious man candy in the form of Bruce Willis and Alexander Godunov, and dares you to look away.

Every time I watch Die Hard, I am reminded once again, why Hans Gruber is at the top of so many lists of favorite movie villains. There is so much you can love to hate, especially the way Rickman played him.

Rickman didn’t think of Gruber that way. “I’m not playing the villain,” he once said in an interview with The New Yorker magazine. “I’m just playing somebody who wants certain things in life, has made certain choices, and goes after them.”

“I don’t play villains. I play interesting people.”

Maybe that’s why Hans Gruber is so much more than just a classic villain.

As the movie hurtles toward the climax, there is a scene when the female heroine, Holly Gennaro, confronts Hans after realizing he is not a political extremist.

“After all of your posturing, all your little speeches, you’re nothing but a common thief,” she says.

Hans grabs her by the arm, and pulls her close. The top of Holly’s blouse is hanging open, and they’re both breathing heavy. “I am an exceptional thief, Mrs. McClane. And since I’m moving up to kidnapping, you should be more polite.”

Wait? What? What is going on here? My ‘anything-can-be-a-romance’ imagination has transformed Die Hard from a popcorn- action flick into a romantic suspense plot bunny.

What will happen next? Will Holly and Hans find passion in each other’s arms? Or will the FBI find them before they make it to the secluded beach where they’ll be ‘collecting twenty percent’?

Maybe I should be writing this down.

Can you think of other movie villains or bad guys who could be transformed into romance heroes just by looking at the story from their unique point-of-view? Who are your favorites?

Sarah Vance-Tompkins received an MFA in Film Production from the University of Southern California. She went on to work in feature film development. She is a member of the Los Angeles Romance Authors RWA, the Contemporary Romance RWA, and the Young Adult RWA. Her debut YA novella, KISSES ON A PAPER AIRPLANE will be released by Inkspell Publishing in May 2016. 

1 thought on “Turning A Villain Into A Hero: Alan Rickman”

  1. Alan Rickman in Robin Hood was about the creepiest villain I’d ever seen. But who could forget him in Love, Actually as the wayward husband. Or his tender scenes in Sense and Sensibility.

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