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Alan Rickman Was Apparently Reluctant To Star In Harry Potter And Die Hard Was Involved

When most Harry Potter fans think of Severus Snape, Alan Rickman is the only image that comes to mind. For eight films, Rickman inhabited every word, action and reaction J.K. Rowling ever poured onto the page. Out of all the characters, the actor’s portrayal still holds a special place in their hearts. But Rickman almost didn’t take the role of Professor Snape. While fans might be surprised, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone director Chris Columbus revealed how the late actor’s role in Die Hard almost stopped him from bringing Snape to life.

It has been five years since Alan Rickman passed away from cancer. Despite starring in multiple films, Rickman left an impression on moviegoers as the complex Professor Severus Snape. Another iconic role in his repertoire was that of Hans Gruber in Die Hard. Playing such an iconic villain along with other hardboiled roles left the actor wary of the Harry Potter film series. Chris Columbus opened up to AV Club about how the late actor played hardball over dinner.

I remember [producer] David Heyman and myself had to do the British actor’s dinner tour for quite some time. We went out to dinner with Richard Harris to convince him, and Maggie Smith to convince her. Alan Rickman was the same, and he was reluctant because he didn’t want to be typecast as a villain, particularly after Die Hard, and I guess Robin Hood [Prince Of Thieves].

Playing such despised villains would leave any actor not wanting to play another iconic villain. At least, Alan Rickman wasn’t the only actor who needed some schmoozing. While it was an uphill battle to convince Rickman, Chris Columbus revealed what finally led to the late Harry Potter alum joining the cast.  

We convinced him to do it, and then J.K. Rowling took him out to dinner and told him something about what was going to happen to Snape throughout the series and in the seventh book.

Well, Alan Rickman got to learn how Severus Snape’s arc played out before avid readers of the books did. If J.K. Rowling hadn’t stepped in, there’s no telling if Rickman would’ve been comfortable playing the beloved professor. Rowling revealing Snape’s fate influenced the actor’s portrayal while shooting the film series. This led to a full-circle moment for Chris Columbus years after helming Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

So, when we would be on set, he would do these tiny little idiosyncrasies with his performance, and I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. I’d walk up to him afterwards and say, ‘What was that?’ He would say, ‘Oh, you’ll know when you read the seventh book.’ It was like, ‘Well, yeah, but that doesn’t help me now. I’m directing the first movie.’ Once I read the seventh book, though, I thought, ‘Oh, that was brilliant, his choice.’

Of course, Alan Rickman’s performance made sense to Columbus after reading the final Harry Potter book. It just proved how much of a thespian Rickman was to think that far ahead. The late actor wanted to make sure the readers received the portrayal they deserved. In doing so, Professor Snape was allowed to evolve through the popular film series. If you want to relive some of Rickman’s best Snape moments, you can stream the entire Harry Potter film series on HBO Max.

Adreon Patterson

A boy from Greenwood, South Carolina. CinemaBlend Contributor. An animation enthusiast (anime, US and international films, television). Freelance writer, designer and artist. Lover of music (US and international).