(Harry Haun’s article appeared in Playbill 1/14; via Pam Green.)
In memory of the acclaimed British actor Alan Rickman, we take a look back at his final interview with Playbill Magazine in which he discusses returning to Broadway, performing in "Sweeney Todd" and his "Harry Potter" legacy.
This interview was originally published during Rickman's 2011 Broadway run in the Theresa Rebeck play Seminar.
Leonard, the literary lion conducting private writing classes in Theresa Rebeck's new Seminar, is a man without a country — primarily because she never ascribed him one — but the role is played with a lofty imperialism only an English actor could muster by Alan Rickman, replete with a full arsenal of Rebeck zingers.
The actor whose Broadway appearances are rare and the character who has no specific nationality should not have connected, but — ah! — there's a backstory. Under the radar is a longstanding friendship going on between actor and author. "I've known him a while," says Rebeck. "He's a deeply generous human being. I could go on and on about what a great person he is. He has been very kind to me over the years. He reads my plays and talks to me about them or writes me really very cryptic and beautiful emails that are provoking your thoughts about things. We had been in discussion about this play in a very mysterious way. And I did ask him, at one point when he was here, 'Would you just read it to me?' I thought it would truly be a wonderful thing to hear him do it. And I was right."
A second reading, for backers, put the play on the fast track to Broadway, with Rickman leading the charge. Director Sam Gold hired a first-class class of wannabe novelists (Lily Rabe, Hamish Linklater, Hettienne Park and Jerry O'Connell) to hear his words of wisdom and derision. It's now playing the Golden Theatre.
Welcome back to Broadway. It has been almost a decade. Alan Rickman: I guess it has. But I was in New York last winter at BAM, performing there with Lindsay Duncan in John Gabriel Borkman, and I was directing at BAM the spring before that.
That was Strindberg's Creditors. Did you enjoy doing that? AR: I loved doing that. It was very special, to watch it move from the Donmar to, really, one of the most thrilling theatre spaces in the world — at BAM [at the Harvey Theatre in Brooklyn]. It was a joy for the actors [Owen Teale, Tom Burke and Anna Chancellor]. And it was a pleasure to say to Lindsay Duncan [for Borkman], "Yeah, but wait until we get to BAM." She'd never walked out on a stage like that before.