JK Rowling has delighted fans by revealing the “top secret” piece of information she shared with Alan Rickman during filming for the Harry Potter series.
Rickman, who played Severus Snape in the popular films, is renowned for his ability to portray the sly, unreadable Professor.
It is known that during filming, Rowling told the actor an important, unknown piece of information that allowed him to adapt the way he would illustrate his character.
And now she has taken to social media to let her 6.5 million followers know the single nugget of intelligence that shaped his esteemed role – that Snape was in love with Harry Potter’s mother.
In response to a question from a fan who asked her to let them in on the secret, Rowling replied: “I told Alan what lies behind the word ‘always’.”
Her response refers to a scene in the sixth novel in the series, when Professor Snape reveals that he had always been besotted by Lily Potter, who was killed by the evil Lord Voldermort shortly after Harry was born.
When headmaster Professor Dumbledore asks if he has been in love with Lily all this time, Snape replies with one word, ‘always’.
During shooting for the first film, however, this fact had not yet been published – and so Rowling took the great risk in letting Rickman know Snape’s secret.
Her decision meant that he was able to portray one of the most highly appraised roles in the whole series, and he reportedly even corrected his directors on set when they asked him to do something he knew would conflict with his character.
In an interview in 2011, Rickman said: “She [Rowling] 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.
“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.
“And its 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.”
Twitter erupted with fans saying that the news gave them “chills” and that praised recently deceased Rickman for “never telling a soul”.
Sean Biggerstaff, who played pupil Oliver Wood in the films, said: “I remember him teasing me over lunch in 2000 with the fact that he knew things that no one else in the world would know for years.”
‘Ashley K’ wrote that the news made her “extremely emotional”, to which Rowling replied: “I know exactly how you feel.”
Another follower said: “This warms my heart and breaks it at the same time.”
And another said: “His portrayal of Snape was amazing. This must have helped him get inside Snape’s head.”
The word ‘always’ has, over the years, become a representation of love for die-hard Potter fans, some of whom have had the word tattooed on their body.
In a direct reference to the scene, Rickman once famously said: “When I’m 80-years-old and sitting in my rocking chair, I’ll be reading Harry Potter. And my family will say to me: ‘After all this time?’ And I will say: ‘Always’.”