One of Alan Rickman’s Memorable Roles Depended on an Editor Finally Saying Yes

By Jack Limpert

Alan Rickman, a widely admired British actor, died this week at the age of 69 in London. He was best-known for his role as Professor Snape in the Harry Potter films. At the Washingtonian we admired him for his starring role in the TV-movie “Something the Lord Made.”

That movie, produced by HBO, won an Emmy for the best made-for-television movie. It starred Rickman as Alfred Blalock, a physician who did the first surgery on what was known as Blue Baby Syndrome. Aided by Vivien Thomas, an African-American surgical assistant (played by Mos Def), Blalock went on to be a pioneer in heart surgery.

The TV-movie was based on a Washingtonian article, “Like Something the Lord Made,” by Katie McCabe. Editing and finally publishing that article taught me one of the most important lessons an editor can learn.

Here’s a link to a 2014 post about how Katie’s story, which went on to win a National Magazine Award, almost didn’t get published. The short version of the post: “If you have tears in your eyes when you finish reading a story, publish it.”


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