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What secret did JK Rowling tell Alan Rickman to get him to play Severus Snape?

January 18th, 2016 by Matt Gault Comments


The story of how J.K. Rowling got Alan Rickman to play Severus Snape, now one of his most iconic characters, is well-known among Harry Potter fans, but one thing we never knew was what secret Rowling told him…until now.

Fans, the guys at Squareeyed write,  had speculated for years that Rickman had known something about Snape, even before the publication of the final book, Deathly Hallows. Harry Potter producer David Heyman once said that Rickman would sometimes object to instructions handed out by the director in a scene because he knew what was going to happen.

Indeed, Rickman himself revealed in 2011 that he spoke to Rowling before filming started to understand the role and that she revealed a key piece of information. From that point, Rickman had an acute understanding of why Snape did what he did and who he was.

“[Rowling] gave me one little piece of information, which I always said I would never share with anybody and never have, and never will,” he told RTE. “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.”

With fans across the world mourning the death of Rickman last week after a battle with cancer, one decided to tweet Rowling to ask her if she would reveal the secret.

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Rowling soon responded, and as Rickman said, it had nothing to do with whether he was good or evil…

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The quote comes from the end of Deathly Hallows in a scene that reveals Snape’s true colours, and his one true motivation throughout the entire series. After seeing his Patronus—a silver doe—we learn that everything he did for Harry and Dumbledore was borne out of his undying love for Harry’s mother Lily.

Understandably, it made the fan ‘extremely emotional,’ with Rowling echoing her sentiments.

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Matt Gault is a sports writer and film fanatic. He is a fully-qualified journalist and has worked for BBCNI, Sunday Life and has been published on The Guardian's website. He interns at REDNI, sub-editing for the Belfast Telegraph. He studied at Queen's University pretending to like history and literature and then University of Ulster Coleraine, where he slacked off enormously for a year and somehow got away with it. He also enjoys Captain Morgans, The Sopranos, Led Zeppelin and Hunter S. Thompson which makes him a remarkably uninteresting person.