Alan Rickman almost quit Harry Potter after the second movie

Madly, Deeply: The Diaries of Alan Rickman is coming out October 4 in the UK, October 18 in the US. The Guardian published some excerpts over the weekend and got everyone all a-titter. Alan wrote the diaries with the intention that they would be published, so read these with a clear conscience. His wife Rima Horton takes over the book when Alan is too weak from pancreatic cancer to write, and she details his last few days. The beauty of Alan’s entries is that he wrote in his own voice, so it feels like you’re having a chat. The bonus is there is all this wonderful gossip and insight we’re hearing for the first time. One of the big stories is that Alan almost didn’t return to the role of Snape in the Harry Potter movies after Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. In the brief blurb we got, he talked about “reiterating” that he was doing no more of the films. But the studios wouldn’t hear it. Thank goodness. By the fifth film, Alan decided Snape’s story was now his story, so he relented to see it through.

Excerpts from Alan Rickman’s diaries are giving insight into the late actor’s role as Severus Snape in the Harry Potter film series and why he decided to continue playing the character amid tough times and desires to quit.

In the diary entries, which were published online by The Guardian on Saturday, Rickman detailed that he wanted to leave the franchise in 2002, one month after the release of the second film: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

“Talking to [agent] Paul Lyon-Maris about HP exit, which he thinks will happen,” Rickman wrote in an entry dated Dec. 4, 2002. “But here we are in the project-collision area again. Reiterating no more HP. They don’t want to hear it.”

The actor decided to stay with the franchise, however, after he was diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer in 2005, ahead of filming for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, the franchise’s fifth installment.

After doctors opted to remove his entire prostate through surgery at a Tennessee hospital, Rickman wrote a journal entry detailing his decision to stay on as Snape in the beloved fantasy saga.

“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.

[From People]

My first question was why did Alan want out of the Potter films? I have no idea if the excerpts are just partial entries or if he just wrote a sentence or two at a time. Maybe Rima will give some interviews and fill in blanks during the promotion. Hard to believe the studios didn’t lock these characters down with multi-picture contracts from the start. Again, I never read the books, maybe Snape wasn’t featured in them as prominently so that wasn’t necessary. But later in his diaries, Alan talks about finishing the last HP book and Snape’s in it, thus my assumption they needed Snape past movie two. It’s also sad because Alan died in 2016, before J.K. Rowling had any tarnish to her. He speaks of talking to and about her in such a way, it makes me miss both of them.

Not surprisingly, the book is already a number one best seller on Amazon. My father keeps a diary. I know it’s going to tear me in two after he’s gone. I’ve always been a crap diarist, but they are important. Sometimes even more important for others more for us. That’s what Instagram has become for me. I suppose Facebook could be as well if you can avoid the toxicity. Alan died on my birthday. Four days after David Bowie died. Personally, I was in one of the worst places I’ve been in – for other reasons, obviously, but I took their deaths so personally. Maybe if I put on one of Bowie’s albums and read Madly, Deeply, it’ll feel like they’re back for just a few minutes.

Photo credit: Instagram and Avalon Red

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94 Responses to “Alan Rickman almost quit Harry Potter after the second movie”

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  1. Seraphina says:

    I love Alan Rickman, RIP. And will this a read of course. Thank you for covering this one!!
    Col. Brandon is my fave and I will forever see him as that romantic figure.

    • whatever says:

      From what I remember, Rickman didn’t like being typecast as the villain. Unfortunately with that voice etc. he was just so darn good at being bad.

      Actor friend John Sessions told a story about a child asking “Alan, why do you always play villains?” To which Rickman replied, “I don’t play villains. I play very interesting people.” 😎

      But according to Emma Thompson, he wanted nothing more to play the good guy, which he did superbly in Sense and Sensibility. Far and away my favorite role of his.

      • Seraphina says:

        @Whatever, thank you for that bit of info. He did make a great villain but his portrayal of Col. Brandon was what won me over. The way he looked at Kate Winslet – he outdid himself.
        I was heartbroken when I heard he passed way. RIP.

      • Becks1 says:

        He was SUCH a good Colonel Brandon. I love that movie. After the new Persuasion came out with Dakota Johnson, I went on an Austen blitz to sort of cleanse my palate after that one lol and I spent the weekend rewatching Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice (miniseries and 2005 version) and Persuasion (the one with Ciaran hinds) and I think S&S may be my favorite Austen adaptation. It really is so well done, rickman is the best brandon, and I love the supporting cast.

      • notasugarhere says:

        Yes, his Brandon and Truly, Madly, Deeply. Winter Guest (directed, not in) and Little Chaos – directed, produced, made the movie happen, and stars in it. Becks1 that’s my fav version of Persuasion too. ‘Anne? You want to marry Anne?’

      • bettyrose says:

        Rickman didn’t like being typecast as the villain?? That’s a shame since he was brilliant at it. Die Hard is a masterpiece. Fight me. But seriously no one could have replaced him as Snape, and the thing about Snape is he wasn’t really a villain. He was complex and kept us guessing till the end, but he goes down fighting the good fight (I hope I’m not spoiling the HP series for anyone). I hope that ultimately he was happy that he gave his performance as Snape to the world as a gift for us and future generations.

      • Miss Jupitero says:

        Truly, Madly, Deeply and Bottle Shock are my personal favorites!

    • Loolaa says:

      Col. Brandon! My forever favourite <3

      • HelloDolly! says:

        +1 on Col. Brandon!!!

      • Jenny says:

        Col. Brandon is the favourite but you all so might look up. Truly madly deeply. It’s a wonderful contemporary movie. Similar to ghost and away. You’ll truly fall in love with Alan Redman after that. Made me a spoon with the two of them together. When you consider how bad is it the villain he’s a wonderful actor.

    • Liz Version 700k says:

      Seraphina I adored him as well. He was so wonderful at playing complicated characters. Col. Brandon forever !

    • ElleV says:

      wow what a fun read those excerpts were! he’s so deliciously shady without ever being unkind or unfair *love it*

    • Traveller says:

      I always adored Alan Rickman. I loved how he looked as Severus Snape (LOL) but I could never get into Harry Potter – didn’t read the books and couldn’t make it through a whole movie.
      Truly, madly, deeply, Sense & Sensibility…………a couple of favorites that fed my huge crush.

    • Seraphina says:

      CBS, I’ve never watch Truly Madly Deeply but it’s on my list now.
      And I can’t find who commented on his Robin Hood character but he was wonderful in that too. He is greatly missed.

  2. smegmoria says:

    Snape was integral to the story. Best character in the whole series!

    • Nanz says:

      He was, and such a complicated character. I wish someone with familiarity of the source material would have covered this story.

      • Twin Falls says:

        It was weird to read someone writing about HP and Snape and Alan Rickman with no knowledge of the background.

      • VIV says:

        He was, but at the time of the CS movie I think the books were only up to Goblet of Fire, which still isn’t to where Snape is a major player. There were characters or scenes that JK had to ensure were included because they seemed like nothing important, but she knew would be important for the the unwritten books.

      • Mcmmom says:

        I agree – not understanding Snape and his role in the storyline really impacts the ability to report on this.

        From what I recall, there was a lag between the movies and the release of the next book. Knowing now how Snape’s story would end, I can’t imagine abandoning the character, but maybe with the timing, Snape seemed one-dimensional after the second movie? I don’t recall. Snape ended up being my favorite character by far. Harry and Ginny bore me, Ron and Hermione are fine, but Snape made the whole series worth reading.

    • Jessamine says:

      One of those rare cases where the actor’s portrayal added depth and nuance that wasn’t necessarily there as written. AR’s Snape colored how I read the character in the best ways.

      • BothSidesNow says:

        Rickman did create Snape, he brought him to life. Alan made Snape into the multidimensional, visual, vile and master of powers of the person that he was. Rickman was a master on film and always brought his characters to life. Rickman was phenomenal just to watch whether he was playing the villain in Die Hard or the emotionally detached husband in Love Actually.

        I still miss Alan Rickman every day, along with so many brilliant actors of our days. But Alan Rickman was special.

    • bettyrose says:

      In hindsight, I’m absolutely willing to vote for him as best character. In the 90s, Hermione was still a bit of a unique heroine, and even for the mid oughts when Dumbledore was revealed to be LGBT it was a bold twist for children’s literature, but that wasn’t carried over into the movies and for younger generations reading the book it’s no longer as unique. I agree that Snape as a complex character stands the test of time.

  3. Ozzie3 says:

    Snape played a huge part in the books, I am so freaking glad Alan saw the movies out, I miss him 🥲

    • bettyrose says:

      When Bowie, Rickman, and Prince were taken from us in a three month time span, it was like my generation was being gutted of our most complex icons. I still miss all three of them, who all still had so much to contribute to the world. I’m grateful for all they’ve left us to remember them by.

  4. Nlopez says:

    Loved him in Sense& Sensibility! He seemed like a good guy. RIP Alan.

    • SussexWatcher says:

      Same, love him in S&S. He was wonderful in everything, even Die Hard. Galaxy Quest is one of my all time favorite movies and he was awesome as the straight man/Leonard Nimoy seriousness.

      • CJW says:

        Yes! His Galaxy Quest role was so awesome and he was amazing in Robin Hood as the Sheriff of Nottingham

      • Zan says:

        I love Galaxy Quest so much, and he is perfect in it. One of his best lines is after a skirmish, when he is leaving the bridge of the ship, and Sigourney Weaver (also perfect in the movie) asks where he is going and he yells, “To see if there’s a pub!” Hilarious!

      • BeanieBean says:

        His voice! His voice! He had the best voice!

  5. Wendy says:

    I miss him too – glad you guys covered this story

  6. Becks1 says:

    I’ve heard elsewhere that he wanted out because of how Snape treated Harry (which is pretty bad in the movies, but WAY worse in the books, I’m re-reading them now with my boys and I’m shocked at how much of a bully he was to a child). Rowling promised him that his character improves and he was important to the story, so he stayed on. I also imagine the movies were exhausting to make.

    (I love the HP movies but have only read the books once, when they all first came out and now we’re on book 4 in our family re-read and I hate Snape in both. I know he’s supposedly this secret good guy but I hate him. I dont think his redemption story is really all that compelling.)

    • Merricat says:

      I agree. Alan Rickman infused the character with a humanity that was not apparent in the book. I remember in one of the early films, the first or the second, Snape is with the three children and something dangerous is happening, and he makes this protective gesture where he kind of pulls them away while stepping forward himself–it was a quick, subtle thing, but when I saw it, I knew that he had given Snape a bigger soul than we saw in the books.

      • Becks1 says:

        Yes that’s in Prisoner of Azkaban, the third one. (thats probably my favorite movie, I make my family watch it all the time, LOL.) When we reread that book, I was so mad at how different that scene was in the book, like the movie writers etc really made Snape so much better.

      • Runaway says:

        Agree a 1000% Alan made professor snape what he was and the cultural icon he became. But Alan made him real instead of a caricature he made him complex And infused such love behind his eyes even the smallest flicker that you knew snape couldn’t be as bad as he was acting.

      • Christine says:

        That is a perfect example of how Alan Rickman made Snape so much better than the character JK Rowling wrote in the books, Merricat.

    • Beach Dreams says:

      Yeah, I side-eye how JKR promised him that Snape “got better”, because book Snape truly was awful almost to the very end. Even the revelation of his ‘good guy’ moments at the end of the book doesn’t truly redeem him, and it’s made clear that he only helps Harry because of his guilt and unrequited love for Lily. Among all the other problematic things about JKR, the way she’s always tried to cast (book) Snape in a sympathetic light never sat right with me because he was outright abusive in most of the books.

    • Lizzie Bathory says:

      Maggie Smith has talked about how exhausting those huge productions were. JKR might have told him about how she’d redeem the character, but it sounds like Alan Rickman found his own way to access some truth & humanity that wasn’t always on the page. I’ve read that in the lead-up to filming the Half-Blood Prince, Rickman wrote lots of letters trying to get more of Snape’s background into the script. Being from an abusive household & being bullied at school gave me more insight into Snape. And it cast his love for Lily in a sadder light–she was just the first person not to be cruel to him.

      Anyway, I can’t wait to read this book!

    • Brandy Alexander says:

      Oh, man – I’ve reread them many times, most recently last year. And wait until you get to Book 5. The movies also made Sirius Black so much more likable than the books did. When I was re-reading it last year, I wasn’t even sorry that he died because he was such a freaking a$$h@le in that book.

      • Becks1 says:

        It’s funny you say that bc I never finished Book 5. I was so turned off by the Umbridge character and her “discipline” methods that I just couldn’t finish it. And its my least favorite movie which is probably a result of that. but I think my boys are going to make me read it lol.

  7. SussexWatcher says:

    By Grabthar’s Hammer, I love Alan Rickman ❤️

  8. ML says:

    I truly, madly, deeply loved Alan Rickman as an actor in many, many movies, and I’ve been enjoying the excerpts in The Guardian! Because the title of his diary begins “Madly, Deeply,” please see if you can hunt down the film “Truly, Madly, Deeply” where he plays a ghost.

    • whatever says:

      I really, truly, madly, deeply, passionately, deliciously, juicily (?!😂) love that movie.

      • death by bacon says:

        I just rewatched chamber of secrets last night.

        And had i not been a HP fan the only thing I would know of Rickman would be die hard.

        I read the books and have rebinged the movies and Rickman made Snape amazing snapes back story is more complicated than most of the characters spoiler…his death scene and Harry’s realization of who Snape really was is a tear jerker.

    • BothSidesNow says:

      I have never seen this movie!! How can it be possible?? Now, I am off to hunt it down!! Many thanks!!

    • notasugarhere says:

      There are a few dozen DVDs of it available (used) on Ebay right now. Make sure to buy the correct region.

    • Lightpurple says:

      And Juliet Stephenson just glows in that film. It’s so lovely

  9. Jill says:

    My first exposure to Alan Rickman was as Colonel Brandon in Sense & Sensibility, and I have loved him ever since! I loved him as Snape, and agree with everyone above that he really elevated the character far beyond how he was written in the books. But one of my favorite performances of his was in the little-known Blow Dry (2001) and everyone should hunt it down immediately!

    • Blue says:

      OMG YES! I love Blow Dry – such a great little comedy and he’s brilliant in it. I’ve always felt he was the best part of any film he was in. Also check out Dogma – he plays Metatron.

      • booboocita says:

        “Tell a person that you’re the Metatron and they stare at you blankly. Mention something out of a Charlton Heston movie and suddenly everybody is a theology scholar!”

    • Lightpurple says:

      Blow Dry with Natasha Richardson and an amazing supporting cast. A fun little film.

      Also Bottle Shock

      And anyone who has not seen Truly, Madly, Deeply, DO SO!

  10. Owlsyn says:

    With everyone naming their favorite Alan Rickman roles, I just want to add that he was so good in Dogma. I love that movie and he brought such gravitas and pathos to his character, it is one of many things that elevates the film above some of its sillier elements.

    • Blithe says:

      I’ll add Something the Lord Made to the list. As with Snape, Rickman brought depth and complexity to his portrayal of Dr. Blalock — a complicated, and not entirely sympathetic character.

    • Anastasia says:

      Right? He somehow made Metatron both human and godly, and I have no idea how. He is hands down the best part of that movie.

  11. smcollins says:

    Loved him. Miss him. One of my all-time favorite actors. And that *voice*. He breathed so much life & complexity into Snape, especially by the end of the movies, that in lesser hands could have very easily been one dimensional. I’ll definitely be seeking out this documentary.

  12. Kokiri says:

    Considering how JK normalized child abuse, I’m not surprised he considered leaving the role of Snape, who was one of the worst offenders.
    Those books are a mess, always were, but especially now what we know of JK.

    I love him though, my favourite role is Sense & Sensibility.

  13. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    Alan was my favorite. Everything. I actually fell under his spell in my boys’ favorite Xmas movie, Die Hard. When I read the books, obviously the movies weren’t out. But omg, when I saw Alan as Snape, I had a coronary event. When his character exited the show, I bawled my eyes out lol. When Bowie died, I thought the world had ended. Then Alan died, I lost it. We were doomed. Then the elections. World ended.

  14. D says:

    He has been amazing in every project he’s done. He was friends with a producer I worked for and he would call the office all the time. Let me tell you, that voice live is even better. I would be giddy after speaking with him and just such a lovely person.

  15. laurie says:

    He was and is my forever crush. Such simmering sexuality!
    I read that Rowlings told him the ending of the HP series when he was thinking of quitting because of the evilness of the character. Also gave some depth to the portrayal.
    He was also awesome live. Saw him in Private Lives on Broadway 6 times! (Swoon). Also saw him in Seminar with Lily Rabe and Hamish Linklater.
    When I heard he died I just couldn’t get over it. Can’t wait for the book. Already ordered

  16. HeyKay says:

    AR, great actor. I watched movies just because he was in them. He was always good.
    Yes, his Col. B in S&S = wonderful.
    I wish his storyline in Love Actually would have been a happier one, in which he and Emma were a lovely, devoted long married couple.

    I don’t think I can read this book, tho.
    Reminders of his loss.

  17. Steph says:

    @hecate, read the books. They are so worth it. You can get them from the library so you don’t have to put any money in Rowling’s purse.
    Snape was more prominent in the books than the movies. I actually own all the movies on Vudu. Dm me on Twitter and I’ll give you my login.
    I’m definitely buying this book. He was such an incredible actor. And from what the characters said about working with him (that were children at the time) he seemed like an incredible person.

  18. AmelieOriginal says:

    I read some more excerpts yesterday and some of the stuff he wrote about the kids was hilarious, like not thinking Dan Radcliffe was a good actor but that he saw him going into acting or directing. And also complaining about the kids not knowing their lines. I also think Alfonso Cuaron was his favorite director (he directed the Azkaban one) and he complained about all the producers named David (there were 3).

    I know Snape has a huge fandom in the Potterverse and he’s supposed to be redeemed because he loved Harry’s mom. And all the heroic stuff about being a double agent for Dumbledore while spying on Voldemort. But to take out your childhood trauma out on a teenager who had nothing to do with the way his dad treated him (since Harry never even got to know his own parents) does not make you a good person in my book and I never got on the Snape train. I get Snape is a complex character and Alan Rickman did a wonderful job of playing him and showing all those sides of him. But being cruel to a bunch of preteens because he had a terrible childhood was not a plot point I ever enjoyed and such a caricature.

    • Mabs A'Mabbin says:

      But none of that really happened. Because it’s a work of fiction. And we’re supposed to think he’s an evil wizard lol.

  19. Char says:

    Alan Rickman will always be a favorite of mine & I believe he never got enough credit for how amazing he was. I first remember him in Quigley Down Under and who can forget that voice? Then Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, as a villain again, of course & he was brilliant at it. But my daughter absolutely loves Harry Potter and so this summer I showed her Sense & Sensibility to show her how truly amazing Alan Rickman was & she loved the movie as much as I do.

    I do find it interesting that he wanted to quit HP. There is this quote that goes around supposedly from AR that says something like- When I am 80 I’ll still be reading these books & when my family asks me- still? I’ll tell them- always. I always thought that was a lovely quote because he really did bring Snape to life & because I already adored AR I had a hard time not liking Snape.

    • BeanieBean says:

      Quigley Down Under! That’s the one I was trying to think of, the first time I saw Alan Rickman. Sigh. That voice! And such a wonderful bad guy (don’t actually remember his role in that movie, I just remember I saw & he was wonderful in it).

  20. Christine says:

    Chris Columbus directed the first two movies and opted out for the remaining films, even though he was initially brought on to direct all of them. Wonder if that had anything to do with it?

  21. Lady D says:

    Rest in Peace Alan Rickman. You are missed.

  22. BW says:

    When I first read the HP books, long before the movies were even planned or cast, I imagined Rickman as Snape because of his performance as Slope in The Barchester Chronicles.

    Snape is a huge part of the books and he’s barely in the movies. If I was playing Snape and I read the books and then read the screenplays, I’d want out, too.

  23. Casey says:

    I miss Alan Rickman so much! He was one of the truly good guys, and snapes’ death/lily reveal still makes me cry to this day.

  24. Matilda says:

    Once I was having cocktails with a friend in downtown Manhattan years ago, and Alan Rickman sits next to our table with a companion. My friend and I who never batted an eye whenever we saw celebrities looked at each other and turned into sixteen year old girl/groupies. We didn’t bother him or try to acknowledge him, we didn’t want to disturb him but we were dying inside. He was just as handsome as he was in his films. Had he not been Alan Rickman I would have tried to pick him up. Alan Rickman RIP. 🙏🏼

  25. Veronica S. says:

    Franchises are big commitments and huge time sucks. Snape was a side character, but he was one with a lot of plot influence in the later parts of the story, so it was going to require a lot of filming from him. He probably was worried about it interfering with other projects he may have wanted to do, not to mention the risk of typecasting, which is my guess for why he was hesitant to initially sign on for a full run.

    He was one of the best, though. Just a terrific actor all around. A shame to lose him the way we did. There’s something terribly sad to me about people dying from things like pancreatic cancer, if only because it’s well known as a miserable disease to pass away from.

  26. Kc says:

    “and cancel Christmas!!”
    As Prince John in Robin Hood – Prince of Thieves

    • Deering24 says:

      “I’ll cut his heart out with a spoon!!”

      “Cousin, why a spoon?”

      “Because it’ll hurt more, you twit!” 🤣🤣🤣

  27. Nic919 says:

    The Harry Potter movies were pretty paint by numbers especially the first two films directed by Chris Columbus so I can see why Rickman wanted something better. Rickman’s skills were barely used early on and when he got more to do later, he elevated it from the source material. He made Snape a tragic figure that I don’t think would have worked with a lesser actor. And his presence was missed in the last two films, which should have only been one film anyway.

    Maggie Smith didn’t get much of anything after the first movie herself.

  28. Valerie says:

    I can’t wait to read this. I stopped reading the second batch of excerpts from The Guardian to avoid spoiling too much of it for myself. What a fascinating (and funny!) man. I still miss him when his name comes up.

  29. The Recluse says:

    Yeah, 2016 was brutal. We lost Alan, Bowie, Prince, Merle Haggard, Gene Wilder, Carrie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds. TCM had the best In Memorium video that year, which you can find on YouTube.

  30. Kate says:

    Sense and Sensibility is my forever fave 1000000000 times over Pride and Prejudice.

    I have loved Alan in everything and cannot wait to read. A true actor.

  31. AnneL says:

    Oh, I am so alone here! I love Alan Rickman as an actor but I didn’t care for his version of Brandon or for the Brandon/Marianne romance in the Sense And Sensibility film.

    Kate Winslet was perfect as Marianne. But to me, Rickman’s Brandon came across as a brooding and joyless old creeper. I much preferred the BBC miniseries Brandon and the production in general. Except for Marianne (Charity Wakefield was good but she was no Kate Winslet), I just thought the actors were better suited to their roles and the romances were more compelling. The endings felt truly happy.

    Rickman’s Brandon was kind to Marianne but he was also kind of controlling or something, idk. The one in the miniseries was strong, gentle,chivalrous, and while age appropriate, not hard on the eyes.

    My favorite Rickman role was Prince John in Robinhood: Prince Of Thieves. He was just perfect as the villain in that otherwise mediocre movie. Menacing but funny.

    I only saw one of the Harry Potter movies. He was excellent as Snape. I can’t imagine anyone else playing that role.

  32. Deering24 says:

    When Rickman died, The New Yorker ran a cartoon featuring Harry Potter and John McClane mournfully toasting him at a bar: “Here’s to the best antagonist a guy ever had.”

  33. Sass says:

    Alan was my first celebrity crush when I first saw him in Prince of Thieves. I was six. 🤣 I was a very devoted diarist from age 7 until 19 and then I stupidly burned all of my diaries. I tried starting again but it was never the same and after kids I stopped almost completely. Most of my stuff is logged on social media instead so I’ve been screen shotting memories each day this year so I can at least have those snippets of what my kids said and did over the last 14 years.