Book review: Madly, Deeply The Alan Rickman Diaries

Madly, Deeply The Alan Rickman Diaries

Alan Rickman


Review: Lauren O’Connor-May

This book made me guffaw, in a very unladylike fashion, in a public place.

Alan Rickman narrates his life mostly in stark bullet points, but when he is moved − whether it be by an annoying director, incompetent actor, unOscar-worthy movie, or momentous world event − his personality comes to the fore in poignancy or hilarity.

The acclaimed British actor, who died in 2016, led an interesting life and scribbled or doodled in his diaries regularly for more than 25 years.

He writes about the places he’s lived or travelled to, such as Cape Town, which he liked so much that he considered buying a house here. He writes about his wife Rima, his personal life, friends, and colleagues with a brutal honesty that must have been born of the assumption that no one would ever see his scribbles.

To get to the good stuff, you have to wade through lots of fragmented sentence entries; such as; “Cold. Cold. Cold. Wet. Wet Wet. Carriages, freezing hands, crane shots. Cold banana soup for lunch. Shorter days, earlier darkness. Home by 6.30.”

But it is worth it to get to entries such as: “Juliet Stevenson arrives − a flurry of lost keys, inability to get men on the phone, etc − in other words, as ever, late. But it is fun to work through the show with two bright lights like these. Juliet has, of course, been clamped.”

If you want to skip to the more interesting bits, as I did, then it is helpful to skim the chapter references, presumably added by the editor Alan Taylor, at the start of every chapter. By doing this I was able to quickly find gems like this one, which Rickman penned on the set of Dogma: “Me and Alanis − comedy duo. Who knew? Laurel and Hardy live.”

So, if you’re curious about which rapper surprised Rickman with his acting prowess, which Harry Potter cast member had “diction this side of Albania” or whom Rickman didn’t quite consider to be an actor at all (hint: it’s a lead), which Sense and Sensibility co-star was “his usual, snappy, sharp, acid self” or which Academy Awards was just another “nonsense” ceremony, then you will enjoy this book, as I did.

Curiously, of his own writing, Rickman said: “Re-reading some pages of this diary is like looking at the graph of an exhausted mind.”