Amid the outpouring of grief over Alan Rickman's death last week, it seemed that one particular mystery about the famed actor's performance career would endure forever: The contents of a secret conversation between Rickman and Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling about how to portray the character Severus Snape on film.
A primary antagonist during much of the Harry Potter series, Snape's evolving character is one of the most complex roles in the magical universe.
As Rickman said in a 2011 interview with RTÉ, Rowling offered the actor some critical and revealing insight into Snape's character, which influenced his entire portrayal of the role. Rickman, however, was tight-lipped about what it was.
"She gave me one little piece of information, which I always said I would never share with anybody and never have, and never will," said Rickman. "It wasn't a plot point, or crucial in any tangible way, but it was crucial to me as a piece of information that made me travel down that road rather than that one or that one or that one."
Rickman's death meant that only Rowling could reveal the contents of the secret information now.
And when a fan asked:
Rowling finally spilled:
"Always," uttered by Snape during some of the final book's most harrowing events, is arguably the culmination of Snape's character development. The line reveals that despite his hatred for Harry's father and general distaste for his son, Snape is committed to protecting Harry against Voldemort's fury out of love for Harry's mother, Lily.
The information is critical to understanding Snape's actions throughout the earlier movies, and significantly affected Rickman's portrayal of the role.
"It was quite amusing, too, because there were times when a director would tell Alan what to do in a scene and he would say something like, 'No I can't do that – I know what is going to happen and you don't,'" David Heyman, who produced all eight films films, told the Los Angeles Times.
For some, it was a cathartic reveal.
With that mystery solved, Potterologists can now focus on a number of the series' other critical questions, like what wizards read for fun and why the wizarding community could not correct Harry's vision.
But "after all this time," should you feel like a good cry...