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Harry Potter’s Alan Rickman Was Aware of Snape’s Fate From the Start

Director Chris Columbus says Alan Rickman knew how Severus Snape’s story would end even back when they filmed Harry Potter and The Sorcerer’s Stone.

Director Chris Columbus, who helmed the first two films in the Harry Potter franchise, recently revealed late actor Alan Rickman knew the fate of his character Severus Snape when he was filming the first movie.

“We convinced him to do it, and then J.K. Rowling took him out to dinner and told him something about what was going to happen to Snape throughout the series and in the seventh book,” Columbus recalled in a new interview with The A.V. Club. The director added that, because Rickman had more information about Snape than he did, he would include “tiny little idiosyncrasies” in his performance, noting, “…And I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from.”

“I’d walk up to him afterward and say, ‘What was that?’ He would say, “Oh, you’ll know when you read the seventh book,'” Columbus remembered. “It was like, ‘Well, yeah, but that doesn’t help me now. I’m directing the first movie.'” The director admitted, however, that once he read the seventh book, he realized, “Oh, that was brilliant, his choice.”

Fans will recall that Snape was initially introduced in both the books and films as a foe to Harry Potter. It was revealed later in the series that Snape was actually a double agent who was loyal to Dumbledore, and who had promised to spend his life protecting Harry from Lord Voldemort because of his love for the boy’s late mother, Lily Potter.

During the same conversation, Columbus shared that Rickman was initially hesitant to join the Harry Potter franchise because he didn’t want to be typecast as a villain following his previous roles as bad guy Hans Gruber in Die Hard (1989) and the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham in 1991’s Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.

Rickman wasn’t the only actor to be wary of boarding the films, with both Richard Harris and Maggie Smith needing convincing to join the cast. Rickman and Smith ended up portraying Professor Severus Snape and Professor Minerva McGonagall, respectively, in all eight Harry Potter films. Sadly, Rickman died in January 2016 after a private battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 69.

Meanwhile, Harris appeared as Professor Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, in the first two films before his death in 2002 at age 72. He was replaced by Michael Gambon, who portrayed Dumbledore in the final six films.

It was recently announced that a 20th-anniversary special titled Harry Potter: Return to Hogwarts will debut on HBO Max on Jan. 1, 2022. The special will see Columbus reuniting with original cast members Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint. The special will also feature appearances from Helena Bonham Carter, Robbie Coltrane, Ralph Fiennes, Jason Isaacs, Gary Oldman, Imelda Staunton, Tom Felton, James Phelps, Oliver Phelps, Mark Williams, Bonnie Wright, Alfred Enoch, Matthew Lewis, Evanna Lynch and Ian Hart.

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