Whether Snape was ultimately a good or bad guy is a matter of eternal debate, but one thing is for certain: the actor who played him was definitely a good guy, as these stories about Severus Snape behind the scenes prove. Well, not Snape, exactly, but acclaimed British actor Alan Rickman. On the set of Harry Potter, he brought his professional A-game, as well as an undeniable sense of fun and generosity. As the actors who worked with Alan Rickman have attested, he left a memorable and lasting impression on all fortunate enough to share the lens with him.
Rickman was already an award-winning, Royal Academy of Dramatic Art-trained stage and screen actor when he landed the role of Snape. By all accounts, he embraced the epic importance the role had for Harry Potter fans, but he also had a sense of humor and kindness about the whole thing. At his memorial service, actress Juliet Stevenson remembered, "Whenever Al would go out to supper, and anyone else would try and pay, he would somehow have phoned ahead or slipped his credit card ahead of the meal, so no one even got a look at the check. He'd just say, 'I've got two words for you: Harry Potter.' And he became known for doing that."
Rickman passed in January 2016 after battling pancreatic cancer. Let's revisit some behind-the-scenes stories of Alan Rickman on Harry Potter as a way to commemorate everyone's favorite potions master.
During the filming of Prisoner of Azkaban, a teenager named Jay who had a diagnosis of late-stage neuroblastoma visited the set. Rickman made certain the boy appeared in the movie. As producer Paula DuPré Pesman remembered:
[What Jay] really wanted was to be in the film, not just visiting. I said, "Well, we can't really do that, and you're already here." Alan came over and introduced himself to Jay, and Jay was so happy to meet him. He was really knowledgeable. He was about 15 at the time, and he knew a lot about Alan's other films, and Jay mentioned to Alan that what he really wanted to do was be in the film.
Alan looked at me, and he kind of went into his Snape-mode in costume, and said, "Why isn't this child in the film?" Everyone had a good laugh, and Alan took him by the hand and put him into the crowd of kids as they were panning across. The back of him is actually in a shot.
Jay stood in a scene of Prisoner of Azkaban during Professor Lupin's (David Thewlis) boggart class. While the scene ultimately did not make the cut for the big screen, Rickman's gesture was not lost on Jay.
After Rickman's passing, many of his co-stars from Harry Potter and beyond came out to pay homage. Daniel Radcliffe, AKA Harry Potter himself, penned a powerful tribute in which he hailed Rickman as "undoubtedly one of the greatest actors I will ever work with" and "one of the loyalest and most supportive people I've ever met in the film industry." He went on:
As an actor he was one of the first of the adults on Potter to treat me like a peer rather than a child. Working with him at such a formative age was incredibly important, and I will carry the lessons he taught me for the rest of my life and career. Film sets and theater stages are all far poorer for the loss of this great actor and man.
Rickman was perhaps, in some regards, intimidating to his colleagues, but they were also quick to point out that he was exceedingly kind and giving. He would often chat with children who visited the sets of the Harry Potter films.
"Alan Rickman, pretty much every day of filming, he had a whole troop of little children [visiting]," Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood) recalled. She continued:
It was the most bizarre scene to see Snape in this black robe, usually with, like, a bib on - we had to wear these bibs so we didn't ruin our costume - surrounded by all these happy little children who were just chatting away to him.
In the words of Rupert Grint, Rickman was "a great gentleman."
Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley in Harry Potter) was doodling caricatures while on set one day. As he was working on one of Rickman, Grint had no idea that Snape himself was looking over his shoulder. "I was so scared," Grint said, because in the sketch he had "exaggerated a few of his features." But Rickman was not upset in the slightest - the exact opposite, in fact.
"I made him sign it, and I have it in my possession," Rickman said proudly. "I'm very fond of it."