J.K. Rowling reveals how she gave Alan Rickman a major clue about Snape's character

"Harry Potter" Stars Remember Alan Rickman

LONDON — Although Alan Rickman will be remembered for a number of different film roles, his portrayal of Severus Snape in the Harry Potter movies has to be one of his most iconic.

Rickman had previously hinted in interviews that he spoke with J.K. Rowling at the start of the filming process in order to "get a handle" on how to play Snape — something which undoubtedly helped him play the antagonist with a suitable level of complexity.

"She certainly didn't tell me what the end of the story was going to be in any way at all, so I was having to buy the books along with everybody else," Rickman said in an RTÉ interview.

See photos of Alan Rickman's most iconic movie roles:

Alan Rickman's Most Memorable Roles
See Gallery
J.K. Rowling reveals how she gave Alan Rickman a major clue about Snape's character
Rickman wielded his incredible power as cunning and sly Professor Severus Snape in all of the "Harry Potter" movies. His emotional scenes and snarky commentary made him one of the most loved and hated characters in movie history. To this day, we still recall one of his opening lines in the first Harry Potter flick, "There will be no foolish wand-waving or silly incantations in this class. As such, I don’t expect many of you to appreciate the subtle science and exact art that is potion-making. However, for those select few who cherish… I can teach you how to bewitch the mind and ensnare the senses. I can tell you how to bottle fame, brew glory, and even put a stopper in death."

His roles in classic British period pieces were the thing of legend. In the Jane Austen classic, "Sense and Sensibility," Rickman played the strong, older, sensible suitor Colonel Brandon. Brandon pursued Marianne Dashwood (Kate Winslet) but was many-times thwarted by the young and dashing John Willoughby (Greg Wise) before he finally won her heart. His charismatic, caring and subtle portrayal of the fictional hero was easily one of his best roles.  

(Photo via Alamy)

Rickman perfectly portrayed a bored husband and father of two, who is tempted by his young secretary in "Love Actually." The movie was a massive success and Rickman's role, opposite his movie-wife, Emma Thompson, became one of the most complicated and heart-wrenching topics of discussion long after the film was out of theaters. Did he really cheat? Did he just emotionally cheat? Would his marriage survive the betrayal? It was a wry, emotional performance we won't soon forget. 

(Photo via Alamy)

In 1988, Rickman rocked the screen opposite Bruce Willis in "Die Hard." The bearded Brit had audiences trembling with his portrayal of terrorist Hans Gruber. It was a sinister role and one of his first US box office hits. 

The 1990 flick "Truly Madly Deeply" was a critical success and won several BAFTA Awards and earned Rickman a Best Actor award at the Evening Standard British Film Awards. In the funny film, Rickman is a cellist who is madly in love with his girlfriend, Nina, played by Juliet Stevenson. Rickman's character passes away, but comes back as a ghost -- and then the movie develops into a funny look at relationships.  

(Photo via Alamy)

Rickman one said he was often criticized of his unique voice, but it was his slow, tempting voice that made him a major hit as the Blue Caterpillar in  Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland." His funny way of delivering the lines of a stoned insect were spot-on. 

The stars of a 1970s sci-fi show are beamed aboard an alien spacecraft in the slapstick comedy "Galaxy Quest​." The hilarious storyline showcased Rickman's funny side and his dry British humor. The film also starred Sigourney Weaver and Tim Allen. 

(Photo via Alamy)

In many ways, Rickman was a man of the classics. In 2007, he took a turn as Judge Turpin in Tim Burton's adaption of "Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street." 

(Photo via Alamy)

Not always the nice guy. In the 1991 recreation of the classic tale, "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves," Rickman played the evil sheriff of Nottingham who ruled the kingdom with an iron fist. He's eventually taken down by Robin Hood (Kevin Costner) and his merry men. 

(Photo via Alamy)

Rickman's biting wit and incredible nose made him a small scene hit in the 2008 film, "Bottle Shock" about a Paris-based wine expert Steven Spurrier who heads to California's Napa Valley in search of cheap wine that he can use for a blind taste test back in Paris. The underdog story is easily one of his lesser known roles, but no less exceptional. 

(Photo via Alamy)

"Perfume: The Story of a Murderer" is about Jean-Baptiste Grenouille (Ben Whishaw) -- one of 18th-century France's finest perfumers. The story takes a dark turn when his olfactory urges lead to deaths. Rickman plays Richis in the film. 

(Photo via Alamy)

Rickman plays God's messenger in the 1990 film "Dogma," which follows the story of two angels who fall from heaven and are forced to try and find a loophole to re-enter. 

(Photo via Alamy)

Never a dull moment! In the 2012 thriller-comedy, "Gambit" Rickman stars opposite Colin Firth and Cameron Diaz. 

(Photo via Alamy)

Rickman played the older gentleman again in "An Awfully Big Adventure," starring Georgina Cate and Hugh Grant. This time he plays a troubled actor who vies for live against Grant. 

(Photo via Alamy)

In one of his last films "A Little Chaos," Rickman played the discerning King Louis XIV, who is determined to create one of the grandest palaces in the world -- Versailles. Rickman is intrigued by a female landscaper (Kate Winslet), who helps bring his visions of grandeur to fruition. 

(Photo via Alamy)


"No, she gave me one little piece of information, which I always said I would never share with anybody and never have, and never will. It wasn't a plot point, or crucial in any tangible way, but it was crucial to me as a piece of information that made me travel down that road rather than that one or that one or that one."

In the aftermath of Rickman's death, a fan took to Twitter to ask Rowling what the information was.

And, not long after, Rowling revealed what she had told Rickman.

The famous quote, "Always", refers to a scene in the final book in which we discover that Snape was always in love with Harry's mother, Lily. This crucial memory goes some way to revealing just how troubled and complex Snape really was as a character. Despite hating Harry's father and being consumed with bitterness, Snape's enduring love for Lily meant he felt bound to watch over and protect her son.

More from Mashable:
David Bowie tops U.S. album chart for the first time ever
Aziz Ansari is in no rush to do "Master of None" season 2
Apple recognizes iPhone 6S battery bug

Read Full Story

From Our Partners