Alan Rickman Letters Detail Actor’s Perspective on Snape

As you might expect from a 10-year role, Rickman had a complex relationship with the Harry Potter films.

Alan Rickman was a brilliant actor known for many iconic roles, but for the millennial generation, in particular, his legacy is inexplicably intertwined with the character of Severus Snape in the Harry Potter films. Rickman played the role over the course of eight films spanning a decade of his life, working under four different directors. As you might expect, this led to a complex relationship with the role, the nuances of which are hinted at in some recently released letters to and from the late actor.

The letters are part of a collection to be released for auction by Neil Pearson Rare Books. In one letter from Harry Potter producer David Heyman, Heyman wrote to Rickman: “Thank you for making HP2 a success. I know, at times, you are frustrated but please know that you are an integral part of the films. And you are brilliant.”

In another note, written by Rickman while he was filming The Half-Blood Prince, the sixth film in the series, the actor wrote, “It’s as if [director] David Yates has decided that this is not important in the scheme of things i.e. teen audience appeal” in relation to the character of Snape. 

Of course, not all Harry Potter-related notes are ones of frustration. One letter from Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling reads: “Just back from weeks away and had to send a line about what you wrote in the souvenir programme for Hallows II. Thank you for doing justice to my most complex character…”

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Included in the collection is also a note from Daniel Radcliffe, thanking Rickman for gifts he received, including a copy of Catcher in the Ryeand three children’s drawings of Harry Potter characters (two of which are of Snape). The collection also includes two “Dobbys,” awards created within the Harry Potter production team to honor the cast and crew. Rickman won two: one for “the best backstory” and one for “being Alan Rickman.”

Other, non-Harry Potter notes in the collection include letters from actors Kate Winslet and Nicole Kidman. The collection is valued at £950,000 (more than $1,260,000).