It’s been one hell of a ride for two of the Harry Potter franchise’s lesser lights, writes Lucy Carne
The bully and the nerd become muggles for good.
EVEN Hogwarts’ bully and nerd have grown up.
Like their more famous classmates – Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliffe, Hermione Granger’s Emma Watson and Ron Weasley’s Rupert Grint ( pictured below left) – the supporting stars Tom Felton and Matthew Lewis are overwhelmed by the prospect of finally putting down their wands and becoming muggles.
Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2, the eighth and final Potter film, is the biggest finale in cinema history: billions of dollars in box office takings, millions of devastated fans and a spectacular graduation for the talented young stars who have grown up in the public eye.
For Felton, 23, who played Harry Potter’s whitehaired nemesis, Draco Malfoy, and Lewis, 22, who portrayed lovable geek Neville Longbottom, the end is bittersweet and nerve-racking.
‘‘ I’m terrified,’’ Felton ( below right with Josh Herdman) says of what lies ahead after Potter.
‘‘ It’s like being at school from 10 to 21 and being told ‘ Right, off you go now’.
‘‘ You don’t know where to make a first step. It is nervous times.’’
Lewis says it was emotional to bid goodbye to his favourite character.
‘‘ Playing Neville for more than a decade has been a real pleasure,’’ he says.
‘‘ I’ve played the same guy but it never got dull. I loved it, every minute of it.’’
In final film, Harry, Hermione and Ron are on a mission to seek and destroy the Horcruxes, before evil Lord Voldemort ( played by Ralph Fiennes) finds them to ensure his immortality.
The film is a mesmerising display of special effects and thrilling climaxes.
But Part 2 also contains touching emotional moments and both Felton and Lewis’s characters transform. Draco struggles to choose between good and evil. ‘‘ I think he sat somewhere in the middle questioning his allegiances to his family and whether Voldemort is the powerful force he once was,’’ Felton says.
Meanwhile, Neville evolves from cardigan-wearing geek into a wizard warrior leading the Battle of Hogwarts against the evil army.
‘‘ I didn’t want to make him into a gung-ho hero,’’ Lewis says. ‘‘ I want him to still essentially be Neville Longbottom.’’
Lewis knew for years that something significant was in store for Neville after author J. K. Rowling took him aside at the premiere of Harry Potter and the Order of the
Phoenix four years ago. ‘‘ She said I’ve just finished Deathly Hallows. There’s a great bit for Neville in there and I think you’ll enjoy it,’’ Lewis explains.
‘‘ When it came up I was stunned. She said it so blase. I never thought it would be something so epic and crucial to the story.’’
‘‘ I spoke to her since and it was really a heartfelt thank you, not just for that, but for the character she has created and that I’ve been able to play.
‘‘ He is so endearing and a lot of people can relate to Neville. School can be a lousy time and Neville shows you can be whoever you want to be and still be the hero who saves the day.’’
Lewis ( above left) still remembers attending the Harry Potter auditions in his hometown of Leeds.
‘‘ I was a huge fan of the books and I asked my mum if they make a film of the books can I go see it, blissfully unaware it would be the next decade of my life,’’ he laughs.
Felton, however, hadn’t read any of the books and auditioned at first for Harry. But he now insists he would never want the role. ‘‘ Not a chance! I love the Malfoys,’’ he says. ‘‘ The only part I could consider playing would be Lucius in a remake in 20 years’ time. ‘‘ But I’m hoping they never get touched again.’’ Felton, now with a deep tan and darker hair, has moved to Hollywood with his girlfriend and Harry Potter stunt artist Jade, who also plays his wife in the final scenes of the film.
He has a line-up of post-Deathly Hallows projects including golf film From the Rough,
college horror The
Apparition, World War II drama Grace and Danger, horrorthriller Evac and Rise of the Planet of the Apes, in which he plays a villain alongside US actor James Franco.
‘‘ He makes Draco look like a soft being. He is much more hardcore,’’ Felton says of his baddie role.
Lewis is a far cry from the awkward and chubby Neville with bad teeth, having transformed into a tall, handsome and charming young man that has Americans swooning.
‘‘ Hottie alert!’’ headlines and blog posts in the US and the UK screeched this week.
‘‘ The sexiest wizard on the Harry Potter red carpet is . . . Neville Longbottom.’’
Lewis, however, is taking a more low-key approach to life after Potter.
On advice from veteran actor Alan Rickman, who plays Severus Snape in the films, Lewis has spent the past six months performing theatre in Agatha Christie’s Verdict.
‘‘ I just want to be an actor and hopefully I can carry on and make a long-term career out of it,’’ he says.
The end of such a magical decade is still hard to process for both actors.
On the final day of filming, Felton admits he rushed his goodbyes and fled the set before ‘‘ I bawled like a five-year-old’’.
‘‘ I still haven’t come to terms with it being finished,’’ he says.
‘‘ I’m curious about where the next couple of years will go.
‘‘ I’m not trying to shake the stigma of Harry Potter. Hopefully we will be remembered for the rest of our lives for playing these roles. I won’t miss dying my hair, waking up early, but the little things, getting my bacon roll made by the same person for nine years – it was a special atmosphere and environment in there.
‘‘ It’s always sad to say goodbye to that.’’
HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS PART 2
Now showing Village Cinemas