In talking with Alan Rickman about directing and co-starring in the 17th century period piece “A Little Chaos,” the subject of his Harry Potter work came up. It always does, though in this case, it was within the context of getting his movie financed and filmed.
Investors, Rickman jokes, insisted that he play a part in his film, because they figured “I had all this ‘Harry Potter’ cash, so I wouldn’t need to be paid!” He acted for free, and directed for a song. “Actors,” he notes, “are always subsidizing and supporting their own work.”
Since several friends and commenters on this blog were bubbling over with suggested Snape questions, I bent them into one all-encompassing query about what his greatest satisfaction was in having played the part. He’s not crass enough to suggest the decade of paychecks, or the new level of fame the character brought him. He was already a brand name in the movies before taking on that part.
“You didn’t know what Snape would become, at least I didn’t, when I took the part. Because she’d only written three books, at that point. I didn’t know that I’d be in all the films. I found out, along with everybody else, what he was about. As J.K. told us.
“It was great to confound expectations, and to die a great death. To die a hero, a complicated hero. Very satisfying to play.
“When we started, we worked on location. As we filmed the series, CGI caught up with us and over ten years, it tended to take over. I found it particularly satisfying, after ten years of work, to finish up with just me and Ralph — just a couple of actors doing their job, without much in the line of effects.”