Why Harry Potter’s Alan Rickman Didn’t Care For Dumbledore’s Death Scene

Alan Rickman was a legendarily versatile stage and screen actor. He was comfortable slipping into the skin of slimy villains, as well as taking on comedic parts. The late star played the iconic terrorist Hans Gruber in Die Hard (a role he originally wanted nothing to do with) and Sheriff Nottingham in the gloriously campy Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. His sarcastic turn as the angel Metatron in Kevin Smith's Dogma is an example of him not being afraid to embrace any role and giving it his all. There is no shortage of excellent Rickman roles to watch. The world lost a great with his passing in 2016. Perhaps the actor's most iconic part may be his heartbreaking take on Severus Snape. A role Harry Potter fans took no time paying tribute to after his untimely passing at the age of 69 after a quiet battle with pancreatic cancer.

Thanks to the newly published Madly, Deeply: The Diary of Alan Rickman (a compilation of diaries the Harry Potter star began keeping in the 1990s), we are getting new insights into how the actor felt about his time on the Potter set. It appears Rickman was no fan of the original script of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and how Dumbledore's death scene was handled in particular–mainly that the scene lacked drama. 

According to extracts from the diaries shared by Insider, the Snape actor had this to say about Dumbledore's final scene: 

The scene seems oddly lacking in drama — on the page — but that is absolute cause and effect of screenplays that have to conflate (deflate) the narrative. We don't know — or remember — enough about individual characters' concerns to understand their issues. Or care.

While the sixth book and film are often overlooked in people's ranking of all the Harry Potter films, The Half-Blood Prince is pivotal in revealing Severus' true nature. He was never the villain we are led to believe he is with his killing of Dumbledore–the clues are all there if you know where to look. 

The book version of Dumbledore's death is slightly different than the film version,  including a scene where Snape promises Draco Malfoy's mother that he will watch over her son-- a line Rickman fought to remove from the script. Rickman felt that the nature of book adaptations needing to deflate some of the narratives in large books for screenplay format, any dialogue between Snape and Malfoy's mother would muddy up the character's motivations for the audience and ruin the flow of the scene. 

Ultimately this is a brilliant choice and insight on Rickman's part. Famously, J.K. Rowling (the Harry Potter series author) shared Snape's real intent with Rickman years prior. The actor was keenly aware presenting Dumbledore's death in stark silence would be far more dramatic and a better setup for paying off the Snape reveal in the next installments of the franchise. 

If you want to see what else the late actor had to say about the last two decades of his career or his fellow actors (such as his critique of Emma Watson's acting), you can pick up Madly, Deeply: The Diary of Alan Rickman, which is available now from Canon Gate. All Harry Potter movies are currently available to stream with a Peacock subscription.

Ryan LaBee

Ryan graduated from Missouri State University with a BA in English/Creative Writing.