What Alan Rickman's Death Means To Me As A Devoted Harry Potter Reader
Fans around the world were shocked and heartbroken to learn that actor Alan Rickman died on Thursday after an ongoing battle with cancer. As a devoted Potterhead and a movie junkie, news of Rickman's passing felt like a low blow in a week of sad news out of Hollywood. During his celebrated career, Rickman has played notorious villains, charmed leading ladies, and brought many literary characters to life, but for me, he will always be Severus Snape.
I grew up smack dab in the middle of the first Harry Potter generation, and for me, the series defined my childhood. I stayed up late into the night, having adventures, getting into trouble, and falling in love alongside Harry, Ron, and Hermione, and as they grew up, so did I. When the movies came out, I was there, hardcover copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in hand, and I kept seeing the movies long after I stopped believing I'd get a Hogwarts letter, too. As the film series continued, Harry Potter started to define not only my adolescence, but that weird and complicated time between being a kid and being an adult, when I moved away from home and started to, as they say, "grow up." Like everyone else's, my late teens and early 20s were filled with big changes, awkward moments, and plenty of heartbreak, but each time a new Harry Potter movie was released, it was like a subtle reminder of all that was good, easy, and magical in the world. For a few hours in a dark theater, I could revisit my childhood, and thanks to the acting chops of Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Michael Gambon, and, of course, Alan Rickman, I always left the movie feeling a little bit lighter.
Rickman was a talented and beloved actor, and while his death has rocked many fans of his, it feels like it's hitting Harry Potter fans even harder. For eight movies — almost 20 hours of film — Rickman brought Severus Snape to life, in all his sassy, brooding glory. Severus Snape is not a simple character to play, but Rickman was able to portray him perfectly, right down to his "don't even think about it" death glares. Each movie, Rickman put on a strong, emotional performance that captured the complicated nature of Snape, who is perhaps one of the most controversial Harry Potter characters, but also one of my absolute favorites.
You can love Snape or you can hate Snape, but you can't argue that Alan Rickman wasn't the perfect choice for the role — one which the actor himself held near and dear to his heart, as he expressed in a goodbye letter to Harry Potter when the filming was over. It was certainly hard for Rickman to say goodbye to Harry Potter, but as a Harry Potter fan, I have to say it's harder to say goodbye to Snape.
No matter how many times I remind myself, in true Harry Potter fashion, that the dead never really leave us, losing Rickman is like losing my childhood. I always feel strange mourning an actor or actress, because in reality, I never actually knew them, but when it's an actor like Rickman, who played such an iconic role, one that was with me from elementary school to college, I can't help but feel heartbroken. If not just for Rickman, a talented actor and a wonderful man, than for the 11-year-old in me, the one who saw Snape come alive on screen for the very first time, and the one who's getting harder to hold onto the older I get.
Of course, I'm not the only one grieving this tragic loss to the entertainment world. Along with his family and friends, fellow actors — including the cast of Harry Potter — and fans have expressed their condolences and their sadness on the internet
I think I speak for all Harry Potter fans when I say, Alan Rickman, thank you from the bottom of our hearts for bringing our childhoods to life. You will be missed — always.
Images: Warner Bros.; Giphy (2)