Monday, August 28, 2006

Alan Rickman’s je ne sais quoi


It really bugs me when I can’t figure out why a guy is really attractive. This is my problem with Alan Rickman. The man is 60 years old, has an extremely unconventional face, and is hardly known for landing romantic lead roles. Nevertheless, his allure transcends logic and is so potent that I doubt he could play any part without seeming sexy.

Over the past weekend I saw him in “Blow Dry,” a 2001 British comedy about a quirky national British hairdressing competition held in a small town in Yorkshire. Alan plays an aging barber in business with his son, who has turned from his celebrated competitive success of the past due to his wife’s running off with another woman. His son is played by the young and always heart-throbby Josh Hartnett, who is the film’s romantic interest. However, as always, Alan Rickman steals the show.

His portrayal of Phil, the hairdresser, is understated. His bitterness over his failed marriage seethes quietly, and when he decides to intervene against an old rival’s cheating in the competition, he is stealthy and low key. Against the flamboyant backdrop of the other hairdressers (you can imagine), he seems as solid and humble as they come. But when ultimately he brings all the films plot lines to rights by competing in the final round, Phil suddenly unveils a passionate and creative streak buried for years, symbolized by the stylized scissors tattoo he bears on the sole of one foot.

I’m not a big tattoo fan, but I found that revelation an extreme turn-on. It was like a private secret unveiled. Of course a guy like this would only have a tattoo in a spot no one would ever see except on the most rare, significant occasions. (Only a guy like this could endure the pain of a tattoo on the sole of the foot!)

And somehow the tattoo was a metaphor for the charm of Alan Rickman himself. There’s something rare and special about this guy that you can’t put your finger on, but I suspect he knows where and what it is.

That je ne sais quoi succeeds whether he’s the sinister Professor Snape in the “Harry Potter” movies, the downright evil Sheriff of Nottingham, the eccentrically powerful being Metatron in “Dogma,” or the romantic hero Colonel Brandon in “Sense and Sensibility.” It even works when he’s Harry in “Love Actually,” a guy who cheats on his wife with a rather sleazy co-worker. Alan is a marvelous actor, and indeed becomes someone new in each of his roles (particularly as the voice of Marvin the depressed robot in “Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”). Nevertheless, whomever he’s being, that certain something always shines through.

Sometimes I think it’s Alan’s unusually sensuous features, but then I was likewise as drawn to him as Marvin. Perhaps then it’s his unique voice, so refined and so often deliciously haughty. But would I rather look at him or listen to him? Maybe it’s the dry, detached manner that is the one common thread in his performances--that cool and unflappable, slightly disdainful demeanor.

Oh, I give up, I can’t even guess what it is about Alan Rickman that makes me so crazy. But I do know, whatever “it” is, no one else has it.

Any theories out there? I know I’m not the only one nuts about this guy....

12 comments:

Sonja said...

I noticed a previous post you have titled "The sexual allure of the dark alter ego." Maybe that's what is alluring about Alan, his character always seems to have a shadow, or an edge, a darkness to peel away. I love his accent, and his attitude that just oozes "I'm better than you, stop waisting my time" that's what I find alluring about him.

CatsPlay said...

Thanks for writing this! I loved your thought on the Blow Dry tatoo being like a metaphor for Alan Rickman.

And yes, you are definitely not alone!

Diana Laurence said...

Sonja, beautifully said! It's true, the ever-present sense of a dark side works...and you nailed Alan's haughtiness right on the head. That smug expression...nice.

Catsplay, thanks! Yeah, I've run into MANY passionate fans of this guy over the years and he deserves them.

Con said...

I know this sounds weird but I feel like I have known Rickman all my life!
My obsession lasted a good 3 years, with the first 2 so intense that I seriously thought I needed a shrink. I felt like I had him ... "inside" me (no punn intented!); like he was living deep in my soul and all I had to do was to close my eyes and conjure him up...his voice would come up like a scented vapour and then, my heart would race and I was ablaze.
I became so obsessed, I knew everything about him.... every little detail of his early years, all about his career,..... as much as I could about his personal life...
I would have this daydream about being on Jeapardy and having the top question... Rickman related. Something so onscure... like where was he born? In what hospital? And I would win the jackpot with the correct answer:
"What is his house?" LOL

The sad part is... I am totally cured. My days are back to grey and black.

Diana Laurence said...

Aw Con, I too know what it's like to have one of these "animus experiences" blossom, thrive, and then burn out. Sometimes they last only a week or two, sometimes years, but it's very seldom a lifelong thing.

My animus (the subconcious male spirit in a woman's psyche, according to Carl Jung) is continually searching for the best "mask" to assume at a particular point in my life. So he'll adopt one person or another's face and form for a time. It's always so exciting when a new version appears! But sometimes there are long "dry spells" in between, and those can be tedious to say the least.

I still find though, that even after the "magic" has passed, any person or celebrity who has served as an animus bearer is still special to me. I'm sure you feel the same way about Alan. Only occasionally does something happen that really sours that individual for you--I find that occurs when the real person does something very disappointing, something your imagined concept of him would never do.

I do go on! Anyway, your story about your feelings for Alan made me very wistful...

grigorisgirl said...

The fact that I found this by GoogleBlogging Alan Rickman shows that I am one of the ensnared and the fact that I know two fo the people who have replied as well!!
Thanks for putting the allure down so well and you have made me look at Blow Dry with fresh eyes too.
Can I also recommend you see his new film Snowcake which is, I think, one of his best film performances.

Diana Laurence said...

Hi grigorisgirl, thanks for the film recommendation, I've added it to our Netflix list! I'm not surprised you knew some of the folks who've posted. In my experience Alan has some amazing and devoted fans...it's really uncanny. Anyway, glad you found the blog!

Anonymous said...

I agree with the whole thing. Too bad he can't be just a few years younger. I'm 18, but I'm just obsessed with him. I have all his movies and I lose track of what is going on, I'm so focused on him. *swoon*

Diana Laurence said...

Anonymous, it's just amazing how Alan appeals to women of all ages. He really is something. Definitely a guy who should be cloned so there were more to go around! :-)

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness I found this site! Just like everybody else here, I guess, I'm just totally obsessed with Alan Rickman & have been seriously worried about it for some long while now, even though I know I'm not alone!

In my own mind I have been wondering for ages what it is that is just so alluring about this man. Being English myself, I can't say it's his accent, although no one I know has a voice like that! I know he gets sack loads of mail from obsessed fans for whom he seems to represent some sort of sexual release & I certainly have to say that, on a personal level, he has brought out some sort of hidden sensuality in me that I wasn't previously aware of!! Keep trying to give up the 'habit' of obsessing with him but somehow I just can't seem to kick it & my fingers constantly stray to type his name into the search engine of the computer on a sickeningly too regular basis! .....

Diana Laurence said...

Hi British Anonymous, It's fascinating to me that someone who is probably immune to the accent still is caught up by Alan's voice! So there aren't men on every street corner in Britain who speak like him? We American chicks were wishing so! Anyway, you have a classic case of Alan fever too...I can't believe how often I hear it.

Aly said...

The man is a GOD. Who doesn't love him? hahaha.

I believe you put it perfectly Con when you said,
"I felt like I had him ... 'inside' me (no punn intented!); like he was living deep in my soul and all I had to do was to close my eyes and conjure him up...his voice would come up like a scented vapour and then, my heart would race and I was ablaze."
I've had the same thing for a very long time now. It first started for me the second he came on the screen in HP1. I even had my family wait for the ending credits just to get his name! And when I did, it just...oh man, Alan overflow every day after.
And also, when Anonymous said "...I'm just totally obsessed with Alan Rickman & have been seriously worried about it for some long while now, even though I know I'm not alone!" well, I feel like she's inside my head! I was thinking that for so long when I first started out. Now it's been so long I just tell everyone I need my fangirl moment and escape to whatever online search engine flows through my fingers first.

Oh Alan...how you make us all swoon. But we love it. ;)