This book reveals a man and actor who was filled with passion for theatre – but also someone who would not hold back on what he thought of people.
Of all the actors who have passed away over the years, Alan Rickman’s was (and still is) was one that really pained me. I never met him and as this book makes clear I have only seen a handful of his films and how I wish he had become a theatre critic and wish I had seen him on stage for myself.
As these diaries make clear, he had a real perception and insight to the process of acting – either on stage or on film. He may have been critical about the process of film making and those making them, but underneath this you get a true sense of a man who was fully committed to his craft and wanting to ensure that things were perfect – even things that were out of his control.
Some might find the way in which he occasionally worded himself was sharp and overly critical (even towards himself), but it is never in doubt that the way in which he expressed himself came from a place of genuinely caring and did not want to do the person he was speaking of the discredit of not being honest – even in his diaries. This is a genuinely fascinating read, packed with insights that I wasn’t expecting and I was completely absorbed in the way in which he would analyse things – particularly theatre. He was so perceptive in the way in which he passionately (if briefly analysed) theatre that made me wonder exactly what kind of a theatre critic he would have made – his honesty and openness throughout is refreshing.
His endless stories of the people he met and the conversations he had are wonderfully (and surprisingly vivid) to read about- there is as much warmth, affection and the way way in which he reflects on the things that mattered most to him is thoroughly engaging from start to finish, so much so that it was so easy for me to devour this in only a few sittings.
It would be a shame to spoil any of the stories and opinions that he had as the real joy in this book is to expect the unexpected. Many revelations that are uncovered in these diaries was not something that I would have expected – not least his love of shopping, while what he spent his final weeks watching on television did make my eyebrows raise in surprise.
Yes he wasn’t someone who suffered fools gladly and his attitude towards journalists interviewing him were particularly amusing but this honesty gives an insight of just how frustrating the industry is and not all glamour (although he had some interesting thoughts on award ceremonies). I finished reading it wishing I had been around to interview him and trying to come up with original questions to make the most of his intellect and passion for acting.
Sharp and fascinating, by reading these diaries you really get a sense of just how parts of his personality translated onto the screen and made him a remarkable person and actor. I thoroughly recommend these diaries for anyone who is keen on acting and the theatre – you will learn plenty here.
by Emma Clarendon
Madly, Deeply: The Alan Rickman Diaries is available to buy and download now.