Is there any film or wider franchise that is better cast than Harry Potter? Even the most powerful of magic would fail to conjure up an alternative because there really isn’t one. Everybody feels so perfectly suited to their role, and even going back and reading JK Rowling’s 1997 novel The Philosopher’s Stone, it couldn’t be clearer that the casting department was totally on the money.

Directed by Christopher Columbus (Home Alone), the first Harry Potter movie installment was released in 2001 and established unforgettable actor-character pairings that were destined to become fan favorites, whether that’s Daniel Radcliffe as the titular wizard or Robbie Coltrane as Hagrid.

Harry Potter aims a spell at Voldemort in the Hogwarts ruins
Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows/Heyday Films/Warner Bros Pictures YouTube channel

However, you’ll be thrilled to discover that there was one actor that JK handpicked herself, and it’s not the beloved star at the center of the series… she personally selected Alan Rickman as Severus Snape, the Defence Against the Dark Arts professor and head of Slytherin at Hogwarts.

The English actor tragically passed away in 2016 and arguably remains best remembered for his role as the potions master in all eight movies, as well as the villainous Hans Gruber in Die Hard.

Those who have read the books will wholeheartedly recognize that Alan inhabited the character better than anybody could have, so it may not be too surprising to hear that he was JK Rowling’s first choice, although it’s worth noting that Tim Roth (Pulp Fiction) was once considered and passed.

The casting is so fantastic that some of the fandom has even speculated that JK wrote the character with Alan in mind as an inspiration, which would help explain why she was so certain he was right for the part. Whether that’s the case or not, you’d struggle to meet any HP fans who didn’t fall head over heels for the actor’s brooding and subtle approach.

Although Alan did have some concerns about advancing with the role, he revealed during a 2011 interview with HitFix [per Vanity Fair] that JK compelled him to hop aboard for the long haul by revealing a secret about the character that proved Snape was more complex than he anticipated:

“[The secret information] 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.”

He added: “And it 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.”

Snape has one of the greatest arcs in the history of the franchise, and it’s somewhat impossible not to feel heartbroken for him when you reach the final novel or the final two movies that were split into parts.

Looking back on the great performer’s career, he’s essentially become synonymous with Snape, and the character has helped immortalize him as one of the finest English actors of his generation.

JK saw it in him long before he donned the robes and grew out the long black hair so that we could see Snape materialize on the big screen the way she intended. Nobody could’ve done it better.

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