The true intentions of Severus Snape came as a shock to Harry Potter fans around the globe when they finally saw his story come to an end. While the Hogwarts professor had acted as an antagonist to Harry throughout the books and movies, and it seemed to readers and viewers like he was one of the villains, he was actually protecting the young man the entire time because of the love he had for Lily Potter. Very few people knew where Snape’s story was going, even in the early days of the film franchise. But author J.K. Rowling trusted the late Alan Rickman with the whole story before it had been published, and he managed to keep it a secret from everyone.
Rickman played Snape, one of the most pivotal characters in Harry Potter’s story, in each of the live-action movies. Daniel Radcliffe, who starred as the titular young wizard, shared plenty of scenes with Rickman over the years, and he recently revealed that Rickman knew all of Snape’s secrets the entire time.
During the Return to Hogwarts 20th Anniversary special on HBO Max, Radcliffe talked with former co-star Gary Oldman about his experiences with Rickman. According to Radcliffe, no one in the cast or crew knew about how their stories would end, because not all of the Harry Potter books had been published at the time. Rickman, however, was given all of the information by Rowling, because his character was a bit of a double agent, and he felt he needed to know the endgame.
“He very very very early said to [Rowling], ‘I think I need to know what happens,'” Radcliffe said of Rickman.
The young actors playing the lead characters didn’t know what would happen to their on-screen counterparts until much later. Not even the original Harry Potter filmmakers were allowed to know the secrets of the story. Radcliffe explained to Oldman in the special that Chris Columbus, the director of the first two Harry Potter movies, would ask Rickman about certain acting choices he made, because they didn’t quite make sense. Rickman would simply respond by saying, “I’ll tell you later,” because it was all in an effort to make sense of Snape’s ending, which he swore not to reveal to anyone.
Return to Hogwarts is now streaming on HBO Max, along with all eight Harry Potter films.