Digital Spy Part 2
How does it feel to begin promoting a Harry Potter movie for the final time?
“It’s pretty strange to be honest with you. Having done something for ten years, it’s a weird feeling to think that you’re not going to be doing it again. I’m just really excited about finishing and seeing the end result because it’s something we’ve been working towards for such a long time. Deathly Hallows was one of my favorite books to read – I had a lot to do for my character! I can’t wait for next week and getting to the premiere.”
Warner Bros are pulling out all the stops for the world premiere in London next week, aren’t they?
“That’s right! I’m trying to get as much information as possible [about the event] just for me, but they’re keeping it a bit quiet. I don’t think they even know totally just yet. With Leicester Square being a bit of a building site, moving it to Trafalgar Square is a bit of a surprise for everyone. It just sounds amazing what they’re planning to do. I tend to just go along, get out of the car and do what they have planned for me – just go along with it, it’s the best way!”
It could be the last time we will see the entire cast together too.
“Yeah potentially! The great thing about filming a film is that you all have your final day’s shooting but you always know that you’re all going to be coming back for the premiere. This one, being the biggest one of the lot, is going to be exciting. I’m looking forward to a good party afterwards.
Have you seen the final version of Deathly Hallows: Part 2 yet?
“I’ve seen a few bits of it, but it was all pre post-production, so there were no exciting special effects. I did a bit of the voiceover stuff, the ADR and saw a few shots. I know which bits of my stuff are going to be in there, so I’m quite excited about a few of the scenes. But I’ve not seen the complete article, so it’ll be a surprise for me on the night as well.”
Have all your scenes made it into the film?
“I’m not sure actually. I’ve seen a lot of my bits and a lot of them were exactly like I wanted them to be. But there were a few scenes that I remember shooting that I didn’t have to work on in the post-production, so I’m waiting to watch the film to see if it’s all in there. I think I’m pretty happy with what has been kept in.”
How would you describe the Neville we see in the final film?
“This year Neville’s been living underground. He’s this reluctant resistance leader who has stepped out from Harry’s shadow and taken over his role. He didn’t want to – he’d much rather just get by and keep his head down. But he realizes that no one else is going to do it and so he had to step forward. That’s the great thing about Neville. It’s the reason why he is in Gryffindor – no matter how scared he is of the situation, he still does the right thing. He’s got amazing loyalty and this courage. So he sees that no one else is going to take take over, so he’s got to do it. He becomes the leader that everyone trusts and he leads the students into battle in the end. From there, I got to do so much stuff. I got to do a few traditional sort of Neville light-hearted humor moments, but then a lot of action and stunts – which I’d never got to do before – and then some real emotional bits. At the end of the day, it’s war. These young kids are on the frontline and they are dying. David Yates (director) didn’t shy away from that. He kept it all in and you get to see, every time one of the students dies, Neville feels it. It’s great for an actor.”
Are you happy that it will live up to expectations for fans?
“I hope so, I hope so. Being such a fan myself, I know what it means to people and we’ve had such a loyal fanbase over all these years that we worked so hard to give it the send-off that it deserved. I hope people are happy with it.”
When reading the final book, did you get excited about the scenes you knew you would one day be filming?
“You do a bit. When you read the book, it is strange to have what you’re going to be doing in a few years’ time written down for you. You read it and go, ‘That’s a bit exciting’. I remember the whole sequence with Voldemort and Neville, reading it and thinking, ‘I’m going to have to up my game here working with Ralph Fiennes’. You can’t really think about it too much. You have to sort of get into the moment and lose yourself in the drama of it. The thing about Ralph – and all the other guys like Alan Rickman – is that they are huge actors who demand respect, because they’ve done some amazing things. When you get on set, they are so warm and so welcoming, while being so good at what they do, that it allows you to get into character so much easier.”
You made a fleeting appearance in Part One, but that means you are one of the few who can say they appeared in all eight films.
“Yeah Neville’s not featured in the first half of the book, so I didn’t expect to be asked to do Part One. David really wanted to show what the students were up to back at the school and remind everyone that that was still going on, that Hogwarts was under the control of the Death Eaters. So they asked me to come and do one line, which I was very chuffed with! It was an afternoon’s work. I get to say I was in all eight, so I’m very happy with that.”
Where you present on the final day of filming and was it like for you?
“I was there on what they call the last day of principal shooting. It was a courtyard scene towards the end of the movie. It was a very odd, but fitting scene to end on really because the courtyard is reduced to rubble, all destroyed. It was very weird to suddenly look around after everyone had cleared the set and they’d said, ‘That’s a wrap’. There was just a couple of us left – me, Tom Felton, Emma Watson and David Yates. We just looked around and it was a very surreal moment where everything was destroyed, but it was really quiet – there was nobody around, just us. It was very, very odd. It was weird to think that we weren’t coming back. It felt like a film in itself. But my real last day was spent on a nightshoot, running up and down a bridge. Unfortunately, the second unit were going on until about four in the morning, so as soon as I finished at about one, they just said, ‘That’s Matt’s last day. Okay, very good – move on’. It was a bit of an anti-climax really!”
We’ve seen Neville grow up through the years, what has your journey been like?
“It’s been fantastic. I was pretty much like Neville when I first started to be honest. I wasn’t bullied or anything at school, but I was quite shy and didn’t speak up too much in class. I was a short, little chubby kid and then as Neville grew up, so did I. I grew with my role in the film – doing press, interacting with adults on a daily basis and then I started to just grow in myself. I’m not at the frontline of any wars but I’ve definitely grown up with Neville and become a lot more confident in myself.”
Tom Felton recently admitted the cast feared a recast midway through the series – was that something you were aware of personally?
“Yeah definitely. I originally signed on for one film, with an option on the second. We didn’t know where it was going to go. After the first two were made, I signed the same deal for number three with an option to do number four. Then nothing came through after number four. We didn’t sign up for five and six – we just didn’t hear anything for a while. There was a bit of speculation on whether they were going to do a fifth one or what. I’d changed quite dramatically in myself – I was wearing a fat suit by this time, I was slimmer and taller than Dan [Radcliffe] and Rupert [Grint], so I thought if they were going to recast, they might recast me because I don’t look like Neville anymore. But they didn’t, thank God, and went ahead with film five and asked us all back. They made the fat-suit bigger and found other ways of making me look a bit more Neville-ish. I guess I owe them for sticking with me!”
You’ve worked alongside some of the finest British acting talent over the last decade, did anyone in particular made a big impression on you?
“There’s a few really, but all of them are so fantastic to be around and so easy to talk to. Jason Isaacs was always one that was very keen and he’d say – not in a pretentious way – ‘How about trying to do it this way and see how it is?’ and we’d try different things. Jason was always really good at that. I never went to drama school or had professional training, so it was great to have someone like Jason on set who could put these ideas forward. I spoke to Alan Rickman on the last day – I went into his dressing room and said thanks and that it had been amazing working with him. He suggested things that I should be looking at doing in the future and talking about RADA. It’s really cool to have these powerhouses of British acting just there chatting – it’s amazing what you can pick up.”
What have been up to since finished Deathly Hallows?
“I’ve just been doing some theatre. I’ve been doing Agatha Christie’s Verdict. I’ve done 189 shows and have three left. It’s been fun! I’ve not done theatre before, but I knew Dan had done it and I wanted to see if I could. I wanted to see if it was something I was missing in my acting repertoire. So I threw myself into it. It’s been hard work but I feel like I can do it now. It’s something I wanted to do for myself, so I’m happy.”
Would you ever revisit the character of Neville Longbottom if the material was there?
“I don’t know. The character of Neville, I owe so much to. It’s been so much fun to play. I couldn’t have thought of a better character to play. I got to do so much. I’m happy with the story arc and the way it finished. It captured all the characters so well – the eight films, the seven books: everyone had a beginning, a fantastic journey and a good end. If Jo (JK Rowling) went on to write something else, I’m sure it would be fantastic and if they decided to make a film, I’m sure I’d be interested. But, at the minute, I’m very happy with how it has finished and I’m looking forward to doing something different.”