When the news broke Jan. 14 that Alan Rickman had died, Harry Potter fans began paying tribute to an actor who so embodied the role of Severus Snape.

I saw it first on Instagram. A friend posted a black and white picture with a caption that began “#ripalanrickman.” The pain was immediate, like a kick to the gut. I quickly went to Twitter for the news articles: Alan Rickman dead at 69. I read the messages from people such as J.K. Rowling and Daniel Radcliffe about how kind a person the Tony-nominated actor was, despite his portrayals of often tricky and dark antagonists. I related to the fan tributes to the man who so embodied one of the most debated Harry Potter characters.

Whatever feelings fans have for the character, there’s no denying that Alan Rickman will forever be Severus Snape.

I’ve seen a few of Rickman’s other films, but just as Leonard Nimoy will always be Trekkies’ Spock, Rickman will always be my Snape. It can be disastrous for an actor to always be thought of as one role, but for Rickman, I remember him as Snape with great honor.

When I read Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and watch the film adaptation, I cry for Snape’s demise. Yesterday, I cried for Rickman’s.

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When books are translated to screen, much can be lost. For example, the final battle between Harry Potter and Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - Part 2 was so wrong I can’t watch it — or even talk about it — without getting angry, but I cannot complain about Snape. On the contrary, I will be forever grateful to Rickman for not letting Snape’s complexity vanish. He illuminated it.

Snape is thought of as one of the most complex characters in the Potter universe. He is not all good or all bad, not just hero or villain. Some love him, some hate him, some love to hate him. Some (like me) agree he was brave, but scoff at Harry naming his second son Albus Severus. Really, Jo? Really?

Beloved and abhorred, Rickman showed every aspect of Snape with depth and grace. He did Snape, Rowling and all Potter fans proud.

In other news yesterday, Oscar nominations were announced, and I was reminded how outrageous it was that Rickman was never nominated for an Academy Award, especially for his acting in Deathly Hallows - Part 2.

It is not the first death in the Potter family. The first, of course, was Richard Harris, the first film Dumbledore, in 2002. I was 8 years old and can still remember where I was in my kitchen when my dad read the news in the paper.

Similarly, I will always remember Rickman’s death, which might be the biggest and the hardest for fans to date. We mourn for the man partially because of our feelings for the fictional wizard he portrayed. What a testament to his skill as an actor: to be embraced so fiercely and mourned so deeply by crazy, dedicated Potterfans.

In the last day, memorials have emerged not just online, but in person at Potter landmarks such as Platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross Station and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. People are leaving lilies and creating drawings of Snape’s doe Patronus. Snape’s vow of “always” is being transferred to Rickman, a testament of love from his fans.

Alan Rickman, you were Snape, our half-blood prince. Thank you for the magic. Enjoy your next great adventure.



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