Two years after his death, the world still isn’t ready to give up Alan Rickman.
While the actor’s breakout film role involved playing a suspiciously English “German” villain in “Die Hard”, for a generation of fans, he will always be Severus Snape, the dark horse hero of the “Harry Potter” franchise.
A series of letters and writings from Rickman’s personal collection are being auctioned off, and among these papers are some intriguing snippets of insight into the actor’s attitude behind the scenes of the “Harry Potter” films.
Among these letters is one from producer David Heyman, which states:
“Thank you for making ‘HP2’ a success. I know, at times, you are frustrated but please know that you are an integral part of the films. And you are brilliant.”
Another paper, from years later, comes from some writings that Rickman created entitled “Inside Snape’s Head”, which seem to be his thoughts on the process of filming “The Half-Blood Prince”.
One tidbit reads:
“It’s as if [director] David Yates has decided that this is not important in the scheme of things i.e. teen audience appeal.”
Some commenters have taken this as a sign that Rickman didn’t enjoy playing Snape as much as we all enjoyed watching him.
But do you know what? I think these notes show the opposite – I think Rickman’s frustration is indicative of just how much he cared about the role.
Not Enough Snape
Watching many of the “Harry Potter” movies, particularly the middle ones like “The Goblet of Fire” and “Order of the Phoenix”, I can certainly see why Rickman thought that Yates undervalued his character.
A lot of Snape’s key, important scenes from these books are entirely absent in the movies. The character barely has any speaking lines in “The Goblet of Fire”.
Then, when we get to “The Half-Blood Prince”, Snape shows up as a central figure of the story, but he’s still inexplicably absent from a lot of the movie, and his reveal as the titular Half-Blood Prince falls entirely flat, because we’re never given any explanation as to the secrets behind the book’s core mystery.
But, hey, you can’t let actual drama and storytelling get in the way of awkward scenes of Ginny feeding Harry a pie, right?
This must have been particularly frustrating to Rickman as, at the time of filming, he was one of the only people who had been entrusted with the secret to the conclusion of his character’s story arc. JK Rowling filled Rickman in on everything years before “Always” became a rallying cry for “Harry Potter” fans.
The Man Who Knew Too Much
It’d probably be incredibly difficult, as an actor, to know more about your character’s importance than the movie’s director. Rickman was justified in getting annoyed that David Yates was overlooking Snape when he knew that his character was going to tie the whole series together in its most emotional story beat right at the end of the final novel.
It’s a real shame that Snape doesn’t get his due in many of the “Harry Potter” movies. Admittedly, there’s only so much screentime in these films, and the idea of splitting the books into two movies hadn’t become commonplace for much of the series.
Nevertheless, I can’t help but agree with Rickman on all these points. It’s a real shame we didn’t get more of him on-screen before we had to say goodbye.
Alan Rickman will be remembered.