Even among the hundreds of incredible, moving tributes to Alan Rickman that were penned after the actor’s death was announced this morning, Daniel Radcliffe’s really stands out.
The “Harry Potter” star argues that Rickman’s single greatest trait was not his immense talent (although, yes, also his talent), but the utterly respectful and generous way he treated those who looked up to him.
Here’s what Radcliffe wrote (emphasis mine):
“Alan Rickman is undoubtedly one of the greatest actors I will ever work with. He is also, one of the loyalest and most supportive people I’ve ever met in the film industry. He was so encouraging of me both on set and in the years post-Potter. I’m pretty sure he came and saw everything I ever did on stage both in London and New York. He didn’t have to do that. I know other people who’ve been friends with him for much much longer than I have and they all say ‘if you call Alan, it doesn’t matter where in the world he is or how busy he is with what he’s doing, he’ll get back to you within a day’.
People create perceptions of actors based on the parts they played so it might surprise some people to learn that contrary to some of the sterner (or downright scary) characters he played, Alan was extremely kind, generous, self-deprecating and funny. And certain things obviously became even funnier when delivered in his unmistakable double-bass.
As an actor he was one of the first of the adults on Potter to treat me like a peer rather than a child. Working with him at such a formative age was incredibly important and I will carry the lessons he taught me for the rest of my life and career. Film sets and theatre stages are all far poorer for the loss of this great actor and man.”
Rickman didn’t have to be a good dude. But he was — by choice.
Even though Radcliffe was, nominally, the star of “Harry Potter,” and Rickman played a supporting role (albeit a critical one), back in 2001, Radcliffe was a mostly untested, 11-year-old kid who had never been in much of anything, and Rickman was … already kind of a big deal.
It would have been easy for the veteran actor to be condescending, impatient, or arrogant. It would have been even easier to simply ignore the kids on set.
Instead, Radcliffe insists, Rickman went out of his way to be a mentor and treat his younger co-stars with respect.
There’s a big lesson for most of us in Radcliffe’s eulogy.
Pretty much every single one of us regularly interacts with at least one person who looks up to us. Maybe it’s your child, niece, or nephew. Maybe it’s a younger sibling. Maybe it’s a student. Maybe it’s your college-aged intern, or an entry-level employee in your office. Maybe it’s someone just starting out in your field seeking professional guidance.
Don’t be a jerk. People remember.
Instead, be kind. Be generous. Be patient. Even when it’s easier not to be.
That’s what really stays with people. Even long after you’re gone.