No veritaserum necessary: Alan Rickman, who brought Hogwarts potions master Severus Snape to life across eight Harry Potter films, wrote down his most unfiltered thoughts about the franchise.
In excerpts from Madly, Deeply: The Diaries of Alan Rickman, an upcoming book collection of the actor’s diary entries out next month, the actor, who died from pancreatic cancer in 2016, gives readers an intimate look at his life and career over 25 years.
While he recounts plenty of off-set encounters (Meryl Streep “turns out to be fun and gossipy”), the Potter revelations are among the most revealing, including how he planned to depart the franchise after the release of the second instalment.
“Talking to [agent] Paul Lyon-Maris about HP exit, which he thinks will happen,” Alan wrote in a 2004 entry published by The Guardian. “But here we are in the project-collision area again. Reiterating no more HP. They don’t want to hear it.”
The actor, of course, chose to return for many more films ― even amid a battle with an aggressive form of prostate cancer. He was diagnosed in 2005 ahead of filming on Order Of The Phoenix.
“Finally, yes to HP 5. The sensation is neither up nor down. The argument that wins is the one that says: ‘See it through. It’s your story,’” he wrote shortly after he underwent surgery to remove his prostate.
The at times hilarious and moving excerpts also reveal Alan’s various frustrations during the decade he spent playing Professor Snape, including his candid impressions of his younger co-stars.
“I still don’t think he’s really an actor but he will undoubtedly direct/produce,” Alan wrote about Daniel Radcliffe, whom he also described as “sensitive, articulate & smart.” As for Emma Watson, he took issue with her diction, which he said was “this side of Albania at times.”
“These kids need directing. They don’t know their lines,” Alan wrote while filming Prisoner Of Azkaban, which appeared to be his favourite of the films.
“It is a very grown-up movie, so full of daring that it made me smile and smile. Every frame of it is the work of an artist and storyteller,” he added, praising director Alfonso Cuarón for doing “an extraordinary job.”
He did, however, take issue with other Potter films, blasting the “hideous score by John Williams” in Sorcerer’s Stone and expressing his all-around disappointment with Half-Blood Prince.
“The desire to eat and even more get a drink is matched only by the need to bang the three Davids’ heads [Harry Potter producers David Heyman and David Barron, and director David Yates] against the nearest wall,” he wrote in an entry after the sequel’s afterparty. “I get the character development and the spiffing effects (dazzling), but where is the story????”
As for his character’s death, Alan writes in a 2007 entry about how author J.K. Rowling told him from the start that Snape shared a deep love for Harry’s mother, Lily.
“I have finished reading the last Harry Potter book,” he said. “Snape dies heroically, Potter describes him to his children as one of the bravest men he ever knew and calls his son Albus Severus.”
“This was a genuine rite of passage,” Alan continued. “One small piece of information from Jo Rowling seven years ago — Snape loved Lily — gave me a cliff edge to hang on to.”