While many will recall that Alan Rickman, who died today at age 69 of cancer, was one of the slimiest bad guys Bruce Willis ever came across in Die Hard, a whole new legion of fans will know him as the most feared teacher Hogwarts has ever known – Professor Severus Snape. It is true that Snape met a heroic end in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, but with Alan Rickman’s death comes the realization that there is little chance for Professor Snape to visit screens again in other incarnations of the beloved Harry Potter franchise, unless as a younger wizard.
With his first appearance in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in the United Kingdom and Canada) as the Potions professor, Snape cemented his reputation as one of the most coldly sarcastic and surprisingly nuanced characters in the entire Harry Potter franchise.
Whether he was Hans Gruber or Professor Snape to you, Alan Rickman will be missed. RIP to a great actor pic.twitter.com/ZqG5ex3U2c
— Jim Duncan (@JimDuncanNC) January 14, 2016
Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling once said that Snape was a “gift of character,” and it would seem that Alan Rickman thought so as well. According to the Independent, a YouTube user by the name MsSardonicus compiled several interviews of Alan Rickman discussing Snape and posted it in 2012.
“Snape,” Rickman said. “There was more to him that met the eye. It’s something unnameable. He lives within a very tight confines emotionally, physically. He lives a solitary kind of existence. Mysterious. He’s very focused. Eventually, you get to find out who he is. Innocence. Lost. Resentful. It’s been a complete privilege.”
Certainly, throughout the Harry Potter franchise, Snape captured the imaginations of the main characters Harry, Ron, and Hermione, who often considered Snape their most significant adversary after Voldemort himself. It seemed as though Snape was ready to foil the trio at every turn, although the group realized much later in the series that in reality, Snape was an incredible hero who often put himself at great personal risk in order to get rid of Voldemort.
According to the Daily Mail, it was Rickman’s devotion to the role of Snape that actually prevented him from helming more movies.
“I wasn’t free until now because I started doing Harry Potter, and when I started there were only three books written so I didn’t know I was going to be unable (to direct),” he said.
— i100 (@thei100) January 14, 2016
Of course, his role as Snape earned him a whole new legion of fans, but Rickman was already a critically acclaimed actor. Fans waited breathlessly to see how Snape would torture his favorite victim – Harry Potter – next, not knowing that, in reality, Snape was hopelessly in love with Harry’s mother, Lily. While Snape was by no means Harry Potter’s only seeming enemy, he was certainly omnipresent and seemed to feel hard pressed to look at Harry as more than just a younger version of his father James, whom Snape detested.
DNA India posted a letter that Alan Rickman sent to J.K. Rowling, thanking her for the opportunity he received in playing Professor Severus Snape. In it, he wrote that he had just returned from the studio after dubbing his lines as Snape for the absolute last time and described just how much had changed since the films started.
“Three children have become adults since a phone call with Jo Rowling, containing one small clue, persuaded me that there was more to Snape than an unchanging costume, and that even though only three of the books were out at that time, she held the entire massive but delicate narrative in the surest of hands,” Rickman wrote. “It is an ancient need to be told in stories. But the story needs a great storyteller. Thanks for all of it, Jo.”
Certainly, Snape himself might have scoffed at the sentiment that Rickman expressed, but perhaps Rowling expressed the sense of loss that all fans of Severus Snape might be feeling at this time.
My thoughts are with Rima and the rest of Alan's family. We have all lost a great talent. They have lost part of their hearts.— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) January 14, 2016
Here is to the legacy of the “bravest man (Harry Potter) ever knew,” Severus Snape, but most especially, one of the acting world’s great talents.
[Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images]