While Alan Rickman played numerous great roles in his career, to many he will always be thought of first and foremost as Severus Snape from the Harry Potter franchise. While the general impression has always been that he was very proud of the role that he played over eight films, some newly released letters show that the part wasn't without its frustrations for the actor. One letter, that was written to the actor by producer David Heyman, shows that Rickman's frustrations started as early as the second Harry Potter movie. Written in Heyman's letter...
Thank you for making HP2 a success. I know, at times, you are frustrated but please know that you are an integral part of the films. And you are brilliant.
The frustrations apparently continued from there and were still an issue during Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, as the Independent reprints part of a letter Rickman himself wrote which is critical of director David Yates for the way Rickman felt he neglected Snape's storyline as unimportant in order to focus on teen audience appeal.
These remarks come from a collection of Alan Rickman's letters which were being made public before going up for auction. While these might be just a couple of minor cases where Alan Rickman expressed frustration at playing Professor Snape, they show another side to a performance which is generally praised as one of the highlights of the franchise. There were few indications that Rickman had these feelings, so they may have been minor in the grand scheme of things. Clearly, the comments by producer David Heyman are referencing some specific feelings that Rickman had expressed to him at some point previously.
It's not clear exactly what caused the occasional frustration, and it obviously wasn't important enough to become a bigger issue, but it's interesting nonetheless. Alan Rickman's comments about David Yates could point to a conflict between Rickman as an actor and the more commercial aspects of the Harry Potter franchise as a whole. What Rickman was looking for as an actor to help him create the best possible performance is just one piece of a larger machine at the higher levels. Ultimately, the Harry Potter movies need to please a massive fan base so it wouldn't be surprising if Rickman, or some of the other actors, felt like they were getting lost in the shuffle.
Ultimately, Alan Rickman made all eight movies and the fans love the part that he did create. If nothing else, doing so allowed him to treat himself and his friends well, since the part made him a lot of money, and there's certainly something to be said for that.