Rise of the nerd

The time has come to shine for a ubiq­ui­tous Hog­warts side­kick, writes Neala John­son

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Movies -

NEVILLE Longbottom’s nerdy days are over. In Harry Pot­ter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2, the wimpy wizard of Hog­warts takes the lead in the battle against good and evil.

So when E Guide meets Matt Lewis, the ac­tor who plays Neville on the set of the fi­nal film, he isn’t wear­ing a fat suit, false teeth or some other comedic touch. In­stead, he’s sport­ing some im­pres­sive battle scars.

‘‘ I’ve had a bit of trou­ble,’’ jokes the ami­able York­shire­man.

‘‘ There’s a great scene where Neville takes a band of troops to stop the Deathe­aters get­ting into Hog­warts and it doesn’t go in­cred­i­bly to plan . . .’’

Like many of the Pot­ter ac­tors who aren’t Daniel Rad­cliffe, Emma Wat­son or Ru­pert Grint, Lewis has, over the past decade, grabbed what­ever chance the films gave him to shine.

More of­ten than not, Neville was there to of­fer light re­lief.

Deathly Hallows – Part 2 of­fered Lewis his big­gest chance yet, as Hog­warts comes un­der at­tack from bad­die Volde­mort ( played by Ralph Fi­ennes).

‘‘ It’s amaz­ing to see how the char­ac­ter’s evolved,’’ Lewis says. ‘‘ He’s no longer fol­low­ing Harry’s lead all the time; he’s now lead­ing his own bunch of peo­ple.’’

‘‘ Neville re­alises he’s go­ing to have to step into the breach and take over where Harry left off.’’

Yet the 22-year-old ad­mits to find­ing his tran­si­tion to hero ‘‘ pretty weird’’.

‘‘ I’ve been watch­ing Dan do it for so many years, so it’s been quite nice to have a go and do stuff like that. I was ter­ri­bly ner­vous but Ralph’s so good at what he does it re­ally helps you get into the scene,’’ he says.

Neville’s rise was fore­told by, who else, J. K. Rowl­ing.

‘‘ At the pre­miere of num­ber five, Jo Rowl­ing came up to me and said, ‘ Oh, I’ve got some great stuff for you in num­ber seven, it’s gonna be wicked’,’’ Lewis re­calls. ‘‘ I was like, ‘ Don’t tell me any­thing, I don’t wanna know!’ ’ Cos I was read­ing the books. So she goes, ‘ OK, I won’t tell you, but it’s good’.

‘‘ Then when it came out, I was go­ing through the book go­ing, ‘ Where the hell is it? She’s ly­ing to me!’ But I got to the end and it was un­be­liev­able. I never ex­pected any­thing like that.

‘‘ I like the idea that Neville’s re­ally adrenalised in this last one, he’s been liv­ing un­der­ground, hid­ing out, so all the stuff he’s gone through fi­nally comes to the sur­face and he ex­plodes in this re­ally reck­less, won­der­ful way and leads ev­ery­one into battle with­out any care for his own well­be­ing.’’

While he’s rel­ished the Pot­ter perks, such as trav­el­ling the world for pre­mieres, Lewis reck­ons he’s lucky to be able to walk down the street with­out be­ing ‘‘ mobbed’’.

He re­mem­bers be­ing in a store buy­ing his Eng­land shirt for last year’s World Cup and this woman said: ‘‘ Do you ever get told you look like Neville?’’

‘‘ I was like, ‘ Yeah, some­times’. And she goes, ‘ This guy just came up to me and said, you’ve got Neville in your shop. I said, yeah of course we have. Don’t worry, I don’t be­lieve him, but you do look a lit­tle bit like him’. I just had to go along with it.

‘‘ She goes, ‘ Do you want Neville on your shirt?’ I was like, ‘ No, just Lewis will be fine’.’’

While he dab­bles in rock’n’roll, Lewis hopes his fu­ture lies in acting. ‘‘ I’ve acted since I was five, so it’s 16 years now, which is kind of strange. I don’t know if I can do ‘ owt else,’’ he says.

‘‘ It’s a great job to have be­cause I never have to grow up – I can dress up, pre­tend to be some­one else, do what kids do and get paid for it.’’

STICK­LER: Matt Lewis ( right) as Neville Longbottom with Harry Pot­ter et al and Ralph Fi­ennes ( be­low) as Volde­mort.

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