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Daniel Radcliffe Says He Was “Terrified” of Alan Rickman, Thought “He Hates Me” During Filming for ‘Harry Potter’

Photo Credit: Phil Dent / Redferns / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Phil Dent / Redferns / Getty Images

When beloved British actor Alan Rickman died in January 2016, fans were devastated. While he was best known in later years for portraying Severus Snape in the Harry Potter film franchise, he’d had a long career before that. This earned him fans spanning generations, from those who saw him perform on stage, where he established himself, to audiences who were first introduced to him following his appearance in Die Hard (1988).

Along with his immense legacy, Rickman left behind his personal journals which have now been published as Madly, Deeply: The Diaries of Alan Rickman. The biography includes many surprising revelations about his time filming the Harry Potter films, and it only adds to the interesting revelations that have occurred following the actor’s passing. Other interesting facts about the actor have also come out during interviews with his former cast members.

What did Alan Rickman think of Severus Snape’s costume?

Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith and Ian Hart as Severus Snape, Minerva McGonagall and Quirinus Quirrell in 'Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone'
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, 2001. (Photo Credit: Zayne / Warner Bros. / MovieStillsDB)

Throughout his years filming the Harry Potter series, Alan Rickman had plenty of things to say about his role as Severus Snape. When production kicked off on the first film, he was greatly affronted by certain costume deliberations for his character: “A hat has been made for Snape. A hat? For Snape?”

Fortunately for him, this didn’t make it into the film.

Severus Snape’s death may have looked very different

Alan Rickman as Severus Snape in 'Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix'
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, 2007. (Photo Credit: SpinnersLibrarian / Warner Bros. / MovieStillsDB)

The director for the final film, David Yates, was contemplating killing Severus Snape with a spell, something Alan Rickman was extremely unhappy about. “David Y stubborn as ever about V[oldemort] killing me with a spell (Impossible to comprehend, not least the resultant wrath of the readers),” he wrote.

After this idea was abandoned and the character’s death was filmed, Rickman commented that the scene was “unsettling.”

Opinionated remarks about the cast and crew

Alan Rickman, Rupert Grint, Daniel Radcliffe and Mike Newell laughing on the set of 'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire'
Behind the scenes of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, 2005. (Photo Credit: SpinnersLibrarian / Warner Bros. / MovieStillsDB)

Alan Rickman certainly didn’t shy away from discussing the cast and crew he worked with on Harry Potter – and he wasn’t always complimentary when he talked about them. He worked with Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint when they started the franchise as young actors.

He commented, “These kids need directing. They don’t know their lines and Emma’s diction is this side of Albania at times, and said of Radcliffe in the later years, “He’s so concentrated now. Serious and focused – but with a sense of fun. I still don’t think he’s really an actor but he will undoubtedly direct/produce.”

Praise for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004)

Alfonso Cuarón, Daniel Radcliffe and Gary Oldman on the set of 'Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban'
Behind the scenes of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, 2004. (Photo Credit: Zayne / Warner Bros. / MovieStillsDB)

Alan Rickman’s opinions of the cast and crew weren’t entirely negative, and he had many positive things to say about Alfonso Cuarón, the third film’s director. The actor sang his praise of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, writing, “It is a very grown-up movie, so full of daring that it made me smile and smile. Every frame of it is the work of an artist and a storyteller.”

Alan Rickman considered leaving the Harry Potter franchise

Alan Rickman, Tom Felton, Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Matthew Lewis standing on a red carpet
Alan Rickman, Tom Felton, Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Matthew Lewis attend the New York premiere of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2, 2011. (Photo Credit: Stephen Lovekin / Getty Images)

Perhaps one of the most shocking revelations from Alan Rickman’s book is that the iconic actor wanted to leave the Harry Potter films before the series was completed. In the lead-up to filming Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in 2000, Rickman wrote that he was “feeling a bit nothing about HP, which really disturbs me.”

By the time the second movie, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002), had been released, his opinions had darkened. “Reiterating no more HP. They don’t want to hear it,” he wrote, clearly trying to get out of the franchise.

However, by 2005, while receiving treatment for prostate cancer, his opinion had changed yet again. “Finally, yes to HP 5. The sensation is neither up nor down. The argument that wins is the one that says: ‘See it through. It’s your story.'”

A non-Harry Potter-related revelation about Alan Rickman

Cast of 'Red Dwarf' standing together on set
Red Dwarf, 1988-99. (Photo Credit: crusda100 / BBC / MovieStillsDB)

Three years after Alan Rickman’s death, Doug Naylor, creator of the sci-fi comedy Red Dwarf (1988-99), spoke to The Guardian and revealed that the late actor had been in the running to appear on the show. In the interview, he shared how much Rickman loved the script upon reading it, but that Craig Charles and Chris Barrie meshed better.

“Alan Rickman and Alfred Molina liked the script so we considered casting them as Rimmer and Lister,” he explained. “Rickman wanted to be Lister because he thought playing Rimmer would be too easy. In the end, Craig Charles and Chris Barrie just seemed a better double act.”

Charles also commented on getting the role over Rickman, saying, “I don’t think Alan Rickman and Alfred Molina lost too much sleep over not getting cast. They went off to fantastic film careers and here I am peddling this old mining ship in space.” We don’t think Rickman lost much, if any, sleep over not securing the role of David “Dave” Lister, either, as he appeared in the action blockbuster Die Hard, alongside Bruce Willis, the same year the series debuted on BBC.

Daniel Radcliffe Was “Terrified” of Rickman

Alan Rickman pushing the heads of Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint toward their desk in a scene from Harry Potter.
Radcliffe was terrified of Rickman for the first few films of the Harry Potter franchise. (Photo Credit: Warner Bros. / Piftu / MovieStillsDB)

Joining the host of the Happy Sad Confused podcast, Daniel Radcliffe explained how Rickman seriously intimidated him during the early days of filming for the Harry Potter franchise. He was shown an interview with Rickman from 2016 that he had never seen, one which saw Rickman praises the work of Radcliffe and the other children cast in the lead roles. “As much as I was doing it for seven weeks, they were doing it for 52 weeks,” Rickman said in the interview. 

“This was their life from 12 to 22. And you would watch it from the sidelines at times and throw the odd lifeline in because there was so little time for that. It’s only in recent years that I’ve managed to sit down in a cafe with Daniel in New York. He was at a theater and I was at another. Huge pride to go to see him in the musical [‘How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying’]. How dare he be dancing as well as the New York dancers. He worked at it,” he said.

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After thanking the host for showing him the interview, Radcliffe offered a little nugget of information about working with Rickman. “I was so intimidated by Alan Rickman. How can you not be by that voice?” Radcliffe explained. “Even hearing that voice you forget quite how low it was until it echoes through you. I was so intimidated by him for the first three movies. I was terrified by him and was like, ‘This guy hates me.’ Somewhere along the lines he saw that I really wanted to do this and work at it,” he explained.

Rosemary Giles

Rosemary Giles is a history content writer with Hive Media. She received both her bachelor of arts degree in history, and her master of arts degree in history from Western University. Her research focused on military, environmental, and Canadian history with a specific focus on the Second World War. As a student, she worked in a variety of research positions, including as an archivist. She also worked as a teaching assistant in the History Department.

Since completing her degrees, she has decided to take a step back from academia to focus her career on writing and sharing history in a more accessible way. With a passion for historical learning and historical education, her writing interests include social history, and war history, especially researching obscure facts about the Second World War. In her spare time, Rosemary enjoys spending time with her partner, her cats, and her horse, or sitting down to read a good book.