Told through his diaries--a twenty-five-year passion project--the beloved actor, political activist, and more grants us access to his thoughts and insights on theater performances, the craft of acting, politics, friendships, work projects, and his general musings on life.
The nigh-on 500 pages, compiled mostly from 26 volumes of handwritten diaries between 1993 and the end of 2015, will not radically reinvent Rickman’s public image. They are, however, fascinating and gradually colour in the picture of a performer who put huge amounts of himself into his work ... mostly pithy, always frank ... The weary elan pours off the page ... There are sharp observations in here; sometimes outright digs. Would he have had this stuff published if he had lived? Would he want the world to know how brilliant yet self-absorbed he found Kate Winslet when he directed her in the film A Little Chaos ... at first seems a roll-call of nothing but starry dinners, trips, ventures of varying degrees of glamorousness, lucrative but rejected offers and nice holidays too. It can read like its own Private Eye parody ... Once you’ve stopped applying your own Professor Snape sneer to the name-dropping nature of all this, though, you are forced to think: Well, what else is he going to write about? What else would you write about? There is a sense, only rarely underlined, of the boy from Ealing cooing over all this high life ... somehow, although you know full well it’s coming, that sudden absence leaves you bereft.
He is often a very funny writer but never just for effect - it is always in service of a serious point ... There are fascinating insights into his work on stage and in movies ... His constant complaints about tiredness and builders can get a bit wearying. But the pleasure of reading an unvarnished record of a life unfolding as it was really lived more than compensates ... one last great Rickman performance: challenging, uncompromising, utterly unique and truly mesmerising.
The tone is sometimes gossipy and amusing but at other times anxious and irritable ... There are, naturally, crisp descriptions of colleagues ... It is particularly amusing to read him railing against critics, while himself displaying all the skills required for the job ... But we also get a sense of a man who was loyal and generous ... Quite how gripped the reader will be with these diaries will depend on their tolerance for actors and their fascination with themselves and each other – I couldn’t help zoning out at the lists of famous types spotted or spoken to at assorted parties and awards ceremonies. But just when you think Rickman might be becoming insufferable, he has a knack of bursting the actorly bubble and saying something profound.