It’s been one hell of a ride for two of the Harry Pot­ter fran­chise’s lesser lights, writes Lucy Carne

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Front Page -

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.’’


Now show­ing Vil­lage Cin­e­mas

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