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Alfre Woodard and Jussie Smollett remember working with Alan Rickman

‘Not only was he an extraordinary artist, he also raised his voice for issues that by society’s standards, he as a British white man did not have to care about,’ Smollett says.

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@Jussie Smollett and Artists for a New South Africa

To commemorate Alan Rickman’s death and celebrate his incredible talent, EW is honored to share a full recording of Rickman reading the story “The Ring Of The King” from the 2010 audiobook, Nelson Mandela’s Favorite African Folktales.

The project was a collaboration between director Alfre Woodard and Sharon Gelman, longtime Director of Artists for a New South Africa. Also in the room during recording was Empire star Jussie Smollett, who was working as a photographer on staff at Artists for New South Africa.

Both Woodard and Smollett shared beautiful statements about working with Rickman, and what a deeply caring and talented person he was. “Alan Rickman, our friend, our colleague, our comrade, our brother was Truly, Madly, Deeply gifted, generous, and all together lovely,” Woodard says.

Smollett, whose sister Jurnee was one of the audiobook’s other stars, shares his experience with Rickman in an emotional tribute below:

“I was there in the studio as an Artists for a New South Africa staff member and photographer. To be in the room with the great Alan Rickman being directed by his friend, the brilliant Alfre Woodard, could have been completely overwhelming. But it wasn’t because he treated me with the same respect that he treated those whose names the world knew. Not only was he an extraordinary artist, he also raised his voice for issues that by society’s standards, he as a British white man did not have to care about. But he did. And for that, he will be missed by many communities the world over in addition to Hollywood. May he rest peacefully.”

Hear Rickman read “The Ring Of The King” in his phenomenal voice:

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