The idea of truth serum – a tonic that compels its drinker to speak the truth when questioned – has a long and storied history. So why is it that when I think of truth serum I only ever think of one incarnation of it, the veritaserum of the Harry Potter universe?

Oh, that’s right. It’s because Alan Rickman’s portrayal of Severus Snape was unfailingly excellent and Snape was repeatedly involved with that potion in the films. Apologies to Imelda Staunton, whose Dolores Umbridge was both an absolute monster and eager to use veritaserum on her students, but it’s Rickman’s potion master Snape whose greasy veneer pops into my head anytime serums are mentioned.

Cheers to Alan Rickman who was absolutely great in those films and, because they were children’s fantasy movies, never really got his due.

(And, since this is something of a book-based blog, an etymological aside for those who are interested: like nearly everything in Rowling’s Potter-verse, veritaserum is appropriately named. In this case the base is the Latin word veritas which means, of course, truth. Put that in your pumpkin juice and drink it.)

11 thoughts on “Veritaserum

  1. I’m totally in the same boat as you, veritaserum comes to mind instantly when I think truth serum…. and you are completely right – there can never be another Snape, Alan Rickman created the character on screen we all loved/hated in the books.

    1. Agreed! While I thought that most of the casting in the films was fairly spot on (although I’m still not sure why they didn’t have Daniel Radcliffe wear green contact lenses), Alan Rickman and Maggie Smith stand out as being exceptional choices; they really ARE their characters.

      1. From what I remember I think Daniel Radcliffe had an allergic reaction to the green contacts they tried and the movie makers just elected to forgo them completely. I adore Maggie Smith, she’s a wonderful actress!

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