‘Harry Potter’: J.K. Rowling Told Alan Rickman a Secret About Snape to Keep Him From Leaving the Franchise

Alan Rickman had serious doubts about Harry Potter after only two films into the hit franchise. In an unearthed interview, Rickman likened his character to an “unchanging costume” and hinted that he was close to quitting when J.K. Rowling told him a secret about Snape that changed everything. Here’s a look at how Rowling convinced Rickman to stick with Snape until the very end.

Harry Potter Alan Rickman
Alan Rickman at the premiere of ‘Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows – Part 2’ | Ian Gavan/Getty Images)

Rickman almost called it quits on ‘Harry Potter’

Rickman portrayed Professor Severus Snape across all eight movies in the Harry Potter franchise. But after appearing as Snape in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Rickman had doubts about his character’s future.

At the time, Rowling had only published the first four books in the series and nobody knew that Snape was much more than an antagonist for Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint), and Hermione (Emma Watson).

Believing his character was nothing more than an “unchanging costume,” Rickman admitted that he needed some persuading to keep playing Snape. During an interview with Empire, Rickman revealed that Rowling gave him a “small clue” about Snape’s future that convinced him there was more to the character than meets the eye.

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“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. It is an ancient need to be told stories. But the story needs a great storyteller. Thanks for all of it, Jo,” Rickman shared.

Rickman, who passed away in 2016, went on to play the character until the very last film in the franchise, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows — Part 2. While Rickman never revealed what Rowling told him, the author told fans exactly what convinced him to stick with the franchise.

What did Rowling tell Rickman?

In the final movie in the Harry Potter franchise, fans learned that Snape was a double agent and was actually helping Harry, Hermione, and Ron the entire time. Not only was he acting on Dumbledore’s (Michael Gambon) orders, but he was also madly in love with Harry’s mom, Lily, which is why he wanted to help Harry in the first place.

When Dumbledore discovered Snape’s love for Lily, he asked him, “After all this time?” to which Snape replied, “Always.” This was featured in the book as well as the film adaptation, though fans were not aware of this until after they were released.

Following Rickman’s passing, Rowling took to Twitter and revealed exactly what she told the actor to keep him playing Snape. Rowling shared that she told him about Snape’s love for Lily and what the word “always” meant.

“I told Alan what lies behind the word ‘always,’” she wrote.

Rickman passed away at the beginning of 2016 after a short battle with pancreatic cancer. His final two movies were Eye in the Sky and Alice Through the Looking Glass. After his death, fans built a memorial in his memory at King’s Cross station near the 9 3/4’s sign.

The ‘Harry Potter’ author reveals the origins of Snape’s name

While fans know what Rowling told Rickman that kept him in the franchise, she recently revealed how she came up with his character’s name. Most fans theorized that Rowling developed Snape’s first name from the Latin word, severus, which means severe.

Turns out, Rowling was inspired by something completely random when she came up with Snape’s name. Taking to Twitter, Rowling recently revealed her inspiration for Rickman’s character came from a road sign that she frequently passed when she was writing the first novel.

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“Real Harry Potter inspiration alert: I walked past this sign every day on my way to work when I was living in Clapham,” she stated. “Much later – post-publication – I revisited the area & suddenly realized THIS was why ‘Severus’ had leapt into my head when thinking of a 1st name for Snape.”

Rowling posted a photo of the road sign along with the post. The image clearly shows the name, Severus Road, which explains where she came up with the character. Although we know how the Harry Potter author came up with Snape’s first name, we still do not know the origins of the character’s last name.