J.K. Rowling Reveals What She Told Alan Rickman About Playing Snape

2 minute read

As Alan Rickman finished his work on Harry Potter movies, he revealed author J.K. Rowling once shared “one tiny, little, left of field piece of information” that helped him realize there was more to the sneering Hogwarts potions master than Harry or anyone else might have known.

Now, after the death of Rickman last week at the age of 69, Rowling is sharing just what she said to make Snape’s intentions more clear.

RELATED: Alan Rickman’s Best Roles

Answering a question from a fan, she wrote on Twitter: “I told Alan what lies behind the word ‘always.’”

Rickman, who played Snape through all eight Potter films, told HitFix in 2011 how that piece of information helped shape his performance of the complicated character and his relationship with Harry (Daniel Radcliffe).

RELATED: 20 of J.K. Rowling’s Biggest Harry Potter Revelations

“[It] 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,” Rickman said. “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.”

He added, “What I knew was he was a human being and not an automaton and I knew there was some sense of protection for Harry or I worked that out. It was enough to know, I didn’t know he was a double agent.”

Last week, Rowling remembered Rickman as “a magnificent actor and a wonderful man,” while Radcliffe and fellow costar Emma Watson were also among those who paid tribute.

This article originally appeared on EW.com

More Must-Reads from TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com