Why Alan Rickman Continued ‘Harry Potter’ Amid Cancer Battle


Alan Rickman
Joel Ryan/AP/Shutterstock

Fully committed. Alan Rickman didn’t want to stop working on the Harry PotterNew journal entries reveal that franchise was fighting cancer during his battle.

The late actor, who was 69 years old when he died in 2016, was diagnosed in 2005 with aggressive form of prostate cancer. This was before filming began. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Published excerpts from diaries The Guardian on Saturday, September 24, shed more light on Rickman’s decision to continue with the production despite his private health struggles.

Rickman shared his January 2006 experience in preparing for a Vanderbilt University Medical Center surgery after doctors recommended that his entire prostate be removed. “Pre-op. It’s like a film set. Nothing seems real,” the Love Actually star wrote. “Remembering nothing but with that painkiller high in the recovery room. Attentive, caring people.”

The operation was completed weeks later. Die HardStar made the decision to stay in the Harry Potter universe. “Finally, yes to HP 5. The sensation is neither up nor down,” he wrote in January 2006. “The argument that wins is the one that says: ‘See it through. It’s your story.’”

Rickman portrayed Severus Snapchate, the Hogwarts potion professor and headmaster in all eight of The Wizard of Oz. Harry PotterMovies, the last of which was released in 2011. An entry written shortly after the second movie’s release hinted that the British actor didn’t plan on staying in the franchise forever.

“Talking to [agent] Paul Lyon-Maris about HP exit, which he thinks will happen,” Rickman wrote in an entry dated December 2002. “But here we are in the project-collision area again. Reiterating that HP is enough. They don’t want to hear it.”

Alan Rickman Journal Reveals Why He Kept Working on Harry Potter Amid Cancer Battle 2

Alan Rickman as Professor Severus Snape in ‘Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 1.’
Warner Bros. Pictures

Tony nominee described several conversations with author J.K. Rowling in his diary throughout the years, sharing his thoughts on his character’s arc after reading the seventh and final book in her series. “Snape dies heroically, Potter describes him to his children as one of the bravest men he ever knew and calls his son Albus Severus,” Rickman wrote in 2007. “This was a genuine rite of passage. One small piece of information from Jo Rowling seven years ago – Snape loved Lily – gave me a cliff edge to hang on to.”

His first book, Harry Potter journey, Rickman revealed that Rowling, now 57, “nervously” gave him “a few glimpses of Snape’s background” to help him get in touch with the character. “Talking to her is talking to someone who lives these stories, not invents them,” he noted in 2000.

More excerpts from Rickman’s journal will be unveiled in Madly Deeply: The Diaries Of Alan Rickman. The collection will hit shelves in October.

The Alice in WonderlandStar passed away in January 2016. His terminal cancer diagnosis was only revealed to his closest friends. Many of his friends and family were there to support him. Harry PotterCostars paid tribute via social media to the late great actor.

“He was one of the first of the adults on Potter to treat me like a peer rather than a child,” Daniel Radcliffe reflected in a Facebook post, calling Rickman “one of the greatest actors I will ever work with.”

Rowling issued her own thoughtful statement at the time, tweeting: “There are no words to express how shocked and devastated I am to hear of Alan Rickman’s death. He was a magnificent actor & a wonderful man. My thoughts are with [his wife] Rima and the rest of Alan’s family. We have all lost a tremendous talent. They have lost part of their hearts.”