The diary entries about Potter demonstrate Rickman’s devotion to his character Professor Severus Snape but also his reluctance to lock himself in to a long-running franchise.
As early as 2002, just after the release of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, the second installment of the series, Rickman wrote that he’d spoken to his agent: “Reiterating no more HP. They don’t want to hear it.”
Rickman opted to continue as Snape, however, a decision that was reinforced just before the filming of the fifth entry in 2005: The actor had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, and decided to see Potter through to its end. “Finally, yes to HP 5,” he writes. “The sensation is neither up nor down. The argument that wins is the one that says: ‘See it through. It’s your story.’”
Rickman, who died from the illness in 2016, would portray Snape in all eight Potter films through 2011. His feelings on the immensely popular film series, and his role in it, are included in the diary that will be published in book form on Oct. 18 with the title Madly, Deeply: The Diaries of Alan Rickman.
In one of the diary entries, Rickman writes that after reading the final book in the Potter series, he was pleased with the way author J.K. Rowling brought his character to an end. “Snape dies heroically, Potter describes him to his children as one of the bravest men he ever knew and calls his son Albus Severus,” writes Rickman.
But the actor’s opinions on Potter weren’t always so generous. In a 2001 entry, Rickman writes after attending the premiere of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, “The film should only be seen on a big screen. It acquires a scale and depth that matches the hideous score by John Williams. Party afterwards at the Savoy is much more fun.”
Rickman seems to have had a better time at the 2004 world premiere of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. He writes, “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 6,000.”
Finally, at the 2011 premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, Rickman writes, “To Trafalgar Square – which takes an hour. Once there, red carpets everywhere. A screen, a platform, an interviewer and thousands screaming and singing, ‘Snape, Snape, Severus Snape …’ The carpet snakes into Leicester Square for the film at 8pm. I found [the film] unsettling to watch – it has to change horses midstream to tell the Snape story and the camera loses concentration. Audience, however, very happy.”