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Alan Rickman’s diaries reveal he nearly quit Harry Potter role

Alan Rickman nearly walked away from his starring role as anguished Hogwarts Professor Severus Snape in Harry Potter, excerpts from the beloved British actor’s extensive diaries have revealed.

Entries from the late actor’s diaries have been published in the lead-up to the release of a book of them early next month.

They include a decade of excerpts from the time of the Harry Potter movies, which the actor – who died in 2016 – referred to as HP.

Perhaps the most shocking entry, for fans and movie-goers alike, reveal that Rickman was seemingly underwhelmed by the franchise.

In a 2000 entry, one of the first about Harry Potter, Rickman wrote that he was “feeling a bit nothing about HP, which really disturbs me”.

The sentiments seemed to have lasted years. Two years later, the actor wrote about a potential exit from Harry Potter.

“Talking to [agent] Paul Lyon-Maris about HP exit, which he thinks will happen. But here we are in the project-collision area again. Reiterating no more HP. They don’t want to hear it.”

As the franchise continued, so did Rickman’s entries. They are notable for candid observations about his surroundings and his co-stars, including two of the franchise’s favourite actors, Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson.

“He’s [Radcliffe] so concentrated now. Serious and focused – but with a sense of fun. I still don’t think he’s really an actor but he will undoubtedly direct/produce,” Rickman wrote in one entry.

“These kids need directing. They don’t know their lines and Emma [Watson]’s diction is this side of Albania at times,” he wrote in another.

Alan Rickman

Rickman’s notes included observations about his co-stars and on the set of Harry Potter.

Battle with cancer and a shift in perspective

Against a backdrop of costume fittings, interviews and red carpets, the actor was fighting a silent battle.

Among the published excerpts are poignant entries about his long and arduous journey with cancer; in 2005, Rickman was being treated for an aggressive form of prostate cancer.

In early January 2006, he wrote of an early-morning hospital trip – one of several similar entries:

“5am Wake up,

5.45am Driven to the hospital.

6am Pre-op. This is like a film set. Nothing seems real.”

That same month, there seemed to be a shift in Rickman’s feelings towards his character’s story.

“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.

Throughout his journey playing the sombre potions professor, Rickman gained insight on his character from author J.K. Rowling, who apparently became something of a confidant for him. She shared with him a morsel of information, which the actor wrote gave him “a cliff edge to hang on to”.

“I have finished reading the last Harry Potter book. 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. One small piece of information from Jo Rowling seven years ago – Snape loved Lily.”

In entries spanning over a decade, Rickman also makes day-to-day observations that contrast with glimpses into the life of an actor in the limelight.

“Arriving at Radio City was like being a Beatle. Thousands of fans screamed as we got out of cars. Mostly for Daniel Radcliffe but a rush for everyone. Not to mention walking out on to the stage to 6000,” he wrote in 2004.

Rickman’s acting career spanned decades of memorable roles in notable films including Die Hard,Sense and Sensibility and Love Actually, to name a few.

According to The Guardian, Rickman’s diaries amounted to 26 volumes, with some also containing illustrations.

Rickman wrote his last entry in December 2015, not long before his untimely death at age 69.

  • Madly, Deeply: The Diaries of Alan Rickman, a posthumous collection of the actor’s diaries will be released in October
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