Ahead of its release in October 2022, excerpts from the book Madly Deeply: The Diaries of Alan Rickman have been shared by The Guardian on Saturday 24 September, including some of the late actor’s entries in his secret journals.
Among many insights into the movie industry and the different characters Rickman played in his lifetime were some mentions of what most people would probably deem his iconic role: the sarcastic yet beloved Professor Severus Snape in JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series.
But before we give you all the goss on your favourite wizards, and why, in the end, Rickman decided to keep his role in the movie franchise, it’s important we clarify the reason behind the Die Hard villain questioning it all in the first place.
For those of you who have been living under a rock, Rickman died in January 2016 in London at the age of 69 after quietly fighting prostate cancer, which he was first diagnosed with in 2005. This meant that the actor still had to film four more Harry Potter movies while fighting the disease—a highly difficult feat that understandably required him to think twice about it.
Nonetheless, shortly after being diagnosed, Rickman agreed to return to film Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix as Professor Snape. According to his journals, in January 2006, the actor had received treatment and undergone a procedure to have his prostate removed. “Remembering nothing but with that painkiller high in the recovery room,” he wrote at the time.
Yet, in a journal entry dated 30 January 2006, he penned: “Finally, yes to HP 5. The sensation is neither up nor down. The argument that wins is the one that says: ‘See it through. It’s your story’.”
Only a couple of months later however, Rickman seemed to suggest that both his cancer and his moody character were taking a toll on his personal behaviour on set, writing on 12 April, “I realise as soon as that [Snape’s] ring and costume go on—something happens. It becomes alien to be chatty, smiley, open. The character narrows me down, tightens me up. Not good qualities on a film set. I have never been less communicative with a crew. Fortunately, Dan [Radcliffe] fills that role with ease and charm. And youth.”
An entry from 27 July 2007 shed light on the actor’s thoughts after he finished the last Harry Potter book, “… I have finished reading the last Harry Potter book. Snape dies heroically, Potter describes him to his children as one of the bravest men he ever knew and calls his son Albus Severus. This was a genuine rite of passage. One small piece of information from Jo Rowling seven years ago—Snape loved Lily—gave me a cliff edge to hang on to.”
Then, on 14 January 2010, Rickman put into words how he felt after filming the very last scene of Professor Snape: his death. “Here I am with Dan, Emma and Rupert 10 (?) years on (Emma is here on a break from Brown University), blood all over my throat from an imagined Nagini [Voldemort’s pet snake], the three of them still with furrowed brows and panting a bit,” he wrote.
“Finding it hard to remember any particular scenes over the years mainly because all the decisions are taken in committee rooms and not on the floor. We listen as DY [director David Yates] tells us what we are thinking and why (and in some cases recounts the story… ) and a small piece of something creative caves in.”