How Alan Rickman Managed To Surprise The Director Of His Last Film, Eye In The Sky

Gavin Hood was elated when Alan Rickman agreed to play a Lieutenant General in his drone-warfare drama Eye In The Sky. What Hood never wanted, though, was for Sky to be remembered as Rickman’s final live-action film. Our industry reeled when we lost Rickman earlier this year, and as Eye In The Sky reaches theaters, it’s giving us one more opportunity to appreciate all that Rickman could do in a role.

Eye In The Sky opened the Sun Coast Credit Union Gasparilla International Film Festival this week, where Gavin Hood came and spoke to the press about his military thriller (starring Helen Mirren and Aaron Paul), and the weight that Alan Rickman brought to the screen. "I think Alan represents the best of human dignity and intelligence and wit and frankly presence, and the man had this phenomenal presence without in any way being overbearing," Hood told me in an exclusive interview. In fact, the way Hood explained it, his time on set with Alan Rickman was a complete and total surprise… in the best way possible. Hood explained:

I phoned Alan, when he said he would do this film, and I was worried, as I always am, having learned from experience, that you’ll get on set and then an actor says, ‘Oh, look at these lines, I really want to change them.’ And I couldn’t do that on this film, because none of the actors were together, so whatever I shot with Helen [Mirren] in the first week, that’s the dialogue, and you have to say these lines if you’re talking to Helen, because that’s what she said. … You have to stick to the script. So I said, ‘Is there anything in the script that bothers you? Any lines, and questions that you have?’ And this is Alan. He says, ‘Gavin, I love the story. I think it’s a story that really, really is worth telling. I’m thrilled to be a part of it and I just want you to make sure that I don’t get in the way of you telling this story.’Are you kidding me? ‘I want to make sure that you don’t let me get in the way of telling the story.’ You just want to hug the guy right there. You just want to thank him right there. He’s so on your side. Here’s a great actor, who recognizes that he is a part of a story telling process, and… get in the way, Alan? You’re not going to get in the way. What he does, and did in the film, as we can all see, is enrich the story telling, with his presence and that beautiful voice and his humanity.

Why does Alan Rickman have to be gone? Of course, his legacy will last ana eternity, thanks to his incredible work in films like Die Hard, the Harry Potter franchise, Love, Actually, Galaxy Quest and, yes, Eye in the Sky. But stories like this just remind us that we lost an incredible artist, and a brilliant collaborator.

Eye in the Sky, starring Helen Mirren, Alan Rickman and Aaron Paul, has opened in limited release. It will continue to add theaters in the coming weeks. See it. For Alan.

Sean O'Connell
Managing Editor

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Having been with the site since 2011, Sean interviewed myriad directors, actors and producers, and created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.