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Alan Rickman once said that J.K. Rowling gave him a “tiny, little, left-of-field piece of information” that allowed him to understand the character of Severus Snape better and thus more accurately portray him. In the wake of Rickman’s death, Rowling shared what she had revealed to him.
“I told Alan what lies behind the word ‘always,'” explained Rowling on Twitter.
I told Alan what lies behind the word ‘always’. https://t.co/NHTJ5J6kxb
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) January 18, 2016
As Harry Potter fans know, that is the word Snape uses to describe his perpetual love of Lily Potter, at the end of the series. It was when Harry realized Snape was not a villain, like he had otherwise thought.
“She gave me one tiny, little, left-of-field piece of information that helped me think that he was more complicated and that the story was not going to be as straight down the line as everybody thought,” Rickman told HitFix in 2011.
“If you remember when I did the first film she’d only written three or four books, so nobody knew where it was really going except her,” said Rickman. “And it was important for her that I know something, but she only gave me a tiny piece of information which helped me think it was a more ambiguous route.”
Rickman said he didn’t know Snape was a double agent, but he worked out that he felt “some sense of protection for Harry.” At the end of the series, Harry names his child after Snape and Dumbledore, and calls Snape “the bravest man I’ve ever known.”
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