Versailles role for Potter veteran

Published: Saturday 21st February 2015 by The News Editor

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Film-maker Alan Rickman has said JK Rowling’s long-running Harry Potter series prevented him from returning to the director’s chair for almost two decades.

Rickman spent his 69th birthday at the Scottish premiere of his new movie A Little Chaos at the Glasgow Film Festival.

He directs and stars as French king Louis XIV alongside Kate Winslet, who plays a landscape gardener competing to build a fountain at the Palace of Versailles in the 17th Century.

It is the star’s second outing behind the camera, 18 years after he directed Emma Thompson in Scotland-based drama The Winter Guest.

Speaking on the red carpet in Glasgow, he said he had no idea Rowling’s saga would stretch to six novels and seven films when he took on the role of Severus Snape in 2001.

“I wasn’t free until now because I started doing Harry Potter, and when I started there were only three books written so I didn’t know I was going to be unable (to direct),” he said.

“Because if you’re going to direct a film it’s over a year of your life and I didn’t have that.

“So once I had finished with that series of films I was free, and then along came this wonderful script.

“It’s about a woman landscape gardner at the court of Louis XIV being given the job of designing one of the fountains at Versailles.

“There is a Versailles, there was a Louis XIV but there was certainly never a woman landscape gardener and in way that’s the point of the film – what does it look like to have a woman with job in a world that was completely dominated by men? It’s a fantasy really.”

Rickman may be best known to older fans as sadistic terrorist Hans Gruber in Die Hard, or the villainous Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves.

Despite his recent turn as the morally ambiguous Snape, Rickman dismissed a suggestion that he is best known for playing bad guys.

“I’m not particularly known for it, except maybe 25 years ago,” he said.

Louis XIV was known as “The Sun King” and his reign is associated with opulent architecture, aggressive French expansionism and a ruthless bid to extend his family rule to Spain.

However, Rickman insists his Louis is not a bad guy, simply “somebody trapped by his birth”.

“I think if you’re called Louis XIV you didn’t have much choice in the matter,” he said.

Published: Saturday 21st February 2015 by The News Editor

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