Alan Rickman, who died in 2016, played Severus Snape in...

Alan Rickman, who died in 2016, played Severus Snape in all eight "Harry Potter" movies. Credit: Tristan Fewings

In diaries being published in book form next month, the late actor Alan Rickman expressed ambivalence toward his high-profile role as Severus Snape throughout the 2001-11 "Harry Potter" movie franchise, including his desire to leave after the second installment.

"Talking to Paul Lyon-Maris," his agent, "about HP exit, which he thinks will happen," Rickman wrote in a Dec. 4, 2002, entry. "But here we are in the project-collision area again," referring to difficulties in scheduling his work commitments. "Reiterating no more HP. They don't want to hear it."
Since at least 1972, Rickman, whose work in theater and in films from "Die Hard" to "Sense and Sensibility" showcased his versatility, recorded his private thoughts about his life and career. The London newspaper The Guardian on Saturday ran excerpts from the forthcoming book "Madly, Deeply: The Alan Rickman Diaries." The actor, who had previously been treated for prostate cancer, ultimately died of pancreatic cancer in 2016 at age 69.

"Around 8pm, I called LA and said OK to HP," Rickman wrote on Aug. 23, 2000, of the initial film, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" (2001). Rickman played novelist J.K. Rowling's seemingly menacing and ultimately heroic professor Severus Snape at the Hogwarts school for young sorcerers. "Around the pool and feeling a bit nothing about HP which really disturbs me," he added the next day.

On Sept. 21, he attended his first costume fitting for the role. On Oct. 6, he held his "first conversation with Joanne Rowling. 'There are things that only Snape & you know — I need to know …' 'You're right [she replies] — call me tomorrow; no one else knows these things.' "

In that conversation the next day, Rickman wrote, "She nervously lets me in on a few glimpses of Snape's background. Talking to her is talking to someone who lives these stories, not invents them. She's a channel — bubbling over with, 'Well, when he was young, you see, this, that and the other happened' — never, 'I wanted so & so … .' "

Of the Nov. 4, 2001, premiere of the film, the first of eight, Rickman opined it "should only be seen on a big screen. It acquires a scale and depth that matches the hideous score by John Williams. Party afterward at the Savoy is much more fun."

During work on the third film, 2004's "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," Rickman called Daniel Radcliffe, who played the title role, "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. And he has such quiet, dignified support from his parents. Nothing is pushed." Later during production he wrote that the child actors "don't know their lines and Emma [Watson]'s diction" needed work at times.

He persevered, however, writing in January 2006, while still recovering from prostate-removal surgery, "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.' "

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