A year ago, we lost Alan Rickman. Rickman isn’t exactly an actor I grew up with. I didn’t watch movies like Die Hard or Prince of Thieves as a child, and I was eighteen when the first Harry Potter film came out. The first time I really became aware of Rickman was in my teens watching a re-run of The Barchester Chronicles, but he didn’t really become interesting to me until I heard his name mentioned as someone asexuals were particularly into. I wasn’t clear on why – although Ily offers some suggestions in this Asexy Beast post – but I did start paying more attention to him.
I don’t know that Rickman is necessarily more popular among asexuals than other groups. After all, he was and is loved by people of all orientations. But whereas some actors appeal in obvious ways to specifically sexual demographics, Rickman’s charm was more universal. Moreover, Rickman was more of a character actor than a leading man (in not one of the two dozen films I’ve seen him in does he play the protagonist). That means he got to show off his acting range in a variety of roles. It also means he was less likely to get romantic parts. Heroes almost always have girlfriends, but villains, mentors, and sidekicks are often without love interests. From an asexual perspective, that makes them easier to relate to. It even allows us to imagine that at least some of them might be asexual themselves.
Over the past year I’ve been doing what a lot of us do when an actor dies: I’ve been watching and re-watching a bunch of Alan Rickman’s movies. While doing so, I’ve been asking myself, “How asexual does Rickman’s character seem?” In some cases (Sweeney Todd), the answer is “not very”. In others (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy), it’s more like “totally”. I’ve also been asking myself another question, though: “What if he is asexual? How would that affect our understanding of the story?” Again, sometimes the answer is “not at all”. But sometimes imagining that a character is asexual actually adds depth to their personality and gives us a new way of understanding their actions. What would happen to Tybalt, Alexander Dane, or Snape if we thought of them as asexual? It’s a question that’s worth asking.
So, next time I review an Alan Rickman movie, I’m going to add a little segment where I look specifically at Rickman’s character and ask how “ace” he is. Hopefully, doing so will allow us all to remember and appreciate him a little bit more.