A collection of personal letters belonging to the late Alan Rickman shows that playing one of the main roles in an iconic franchise like Harry Potter isn’t always easy. The letters, which are part of an auction at the ABA Rare Book Fair in London, shed light on Rickman's mindset when playing Severus Snape over the course of eight movies, and it's clear there was some difficulty along the way.
“Thank you for making HP2 a success,” Potter producer David Heyman wrote to Rickman in one letter. “I know, at times, you are frustrated but please know that you are an integral part of the films. And you are brilliant.”
And in another note, which Rickman titled Inside Snape’s Head, the actor bemoaned the way in which Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince director David Yates handled a specific part of Snape’s characterization. Details about what, exactly, Rickman didn’t like aren’t made public, but the actor wrote, “It’s as if David Yates has decided that this is not important in the scheme of things i.e. teen audience appeal,” when questioning the director's choices. Half-Blood Prince is the sixth film in the franchise, and the letters point towards frustrations starting as early as the second installment, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, which was directed by Chris Columbus, who also helmed the first movie.
There are happier notes in the collection, though, including one from Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling, who told Rickman he was “doing justice to my most complex character,” and one from Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe, saying, “To Alan, Thank you for all of my presents, I can’t wait to read Catcher in the Rye.”
According to Architectural Digest, the Rickman auction collection includes 35 boxes of diaries, photos, scripts, and other personal effects, including notes from Prince Charles, Tony Blair, and Bill Clinton. All said, the entire haul has been valued at $1.2 million.
[h/t Architectural Digest]