"I told Alan what lies behind the word 'always,' " Rowling tweeted

By Jodi Guglielmi
Updated January 18, 2016 01:25 PM
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Before Alan Rickman wrapped his role as brooding Slytherin professor Severus Snape in the Harry Potter franchise, he revealed that author J.K. Rowling told him a “tiny piece of information” that helped him better understand the complexity and depth of his character.

In the wake of Rickman’s tragic passing at the age of 69, Rowling is sharing just what she said to the actor – and it turns out, the fact about Snape wasn’t so tiny.

When asked by a fan what the piece of information was, Rowling, 50, Tweeted: “I told Alan what lies behind the word ‘always.'”

The famous quote, “Always,” refers to a scene in the final book, which – spoiler alert – reveals Snape’s enduring love for Harry Potter’s mother, Lily.

In 2011, Rickman discussed just how crucial learning this information was to helping him shape his performance of the character and better understand his complex relationship with the boy wizard.

“[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 told HitFix. “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 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.”

He continued: “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.”

Rickman passed away last Thursday after battling cancer.

Later that day, Rowling said she was crushed to hear the news of his death.

“There are no words to express how shocked and devastated I am to hear of Alan Rickman’s death,” she tweeted on Thursday morning. “He was a magnificent actor & wonderful man.”