Alan Rickman was unhappy with Snape role, reveals letter from the actor's personal archive
Severus Snape was an integral character in JK Rowling's Harry Potter series that saw the author become a billionaire. So, when it inevitably came down to the movie franchise, the actor who would be chosen to portray Snape would be of paramount importance, and in casting legendary Alan Rickman in the role, they hit the proverbial jackpot.
Rickman's portrayal of Snape was impeccable. The sneering drawl that is now considered iconic, his disdain for Harry, and the inherent shadiness and sadness that embodied the condescending, contemptuous character were all brought out by Rickman to the point where he is now synonymous with Hogwarts' potion master; more so than the vast array of other characters the BAFTA-winning actor has played through the course of his career.
Now, a newly released letter from Rickman's personal collection suggests that the actor may not have been all too pleased with how Snape's character development was handled in some of the later movies. Penned by Rickman in 2009, while he was working on 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,' and titled 'Inside Snape's Head,' the letter reveals his frustrations over how director David Yates approached Snape's storyline and reads: "It's as if David Yates has decided that it is not important in the scheme of things i.e. teen audience appeal."
While the exact source of his exasperation is unclear, fans are theorizing that Rickman was aggravated over 'Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,' which has the first film in the franchise directed by David Yates. The movie was the fifth installment of the series and Snape barely features, and even when he does, is reduced to a mere side-character who has nothing to do with how the plot progresses.
Others feel that it had to do with 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince,' which is supposed to have Snape as the other titular character. In the books, Snape is central to how the story evolves, with the revelation of him being the 'Half-Blood Prince' coming as a jaw-dropping twist. However, in the movie, there is no build-up, no tension to the spilling of the secret, with Rickman having to casually let it slip in a conversation.
Besides the perceived bungling of the big reveal, fans also had an issue with how they felt that the movie had axed many significant portions of the book. The battle of the astronomy tower, which was a favorite with many Potterheads and featured teachers, students, and the famed Order of the Phoenix battling death eaters on the corridors and grounds, was cut off in its entirety.
A third theory suggests that it had to with Rowling informing Rickman that the series would end with Snape being painted as Harry's faithful guardian. Armed with this information, Rickman quite possibly tried to play the role of Snape with a bit of subtlety, conveying that hidden protectiveness through a subtle softness in the potion master's eyes but was overruled by Yates, who wanted the character to be cold and hateful.
A few letters that were addressed to Rickman were also released. One, written by producer David Heyman on a postcard, thanked the actor for working on 'Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets' and even talks about Rickman's annoyance: "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, by JK Rowling, thanks Rickman for 'doing justice to my most complex character.'
Rickman succumbed to pancreatic cancer in January 2016. His personal archive, valued at around £950,000, is going up for sale at the ABA Rare Book Fair in London. Besides letters from the likes of the Prince of Wales, Bill Clinton, and Tony Blair, the archive also includes Rickman's copy of the script of his first ever film, Die Hard (1988), where he plays the German terrorist leader Hans Gruber.
Talking about the archive to the Mirror, Bafta-nominated actor and bookseller Neil Pearson said: "It’s a fabulous collection. There are 35 boxes of it – there is the Truly Madly Deeply script in there and Robin Hood Prince Of Thieves is in there. Every single script of a play or film, all of his diaries and a massive amount of correspondence from pretty much everyone you’ve ever heard of."