Harry Potter’s Unlikely Heartthrob
In 11 years and eight Harry Potter movies, nobody — with the exception, maybe, of Luna Lovegood — could call Neville Longbottom sexy.
And in the film franchise’s final installment — where the formerly bumbling Hogwarts schoolboy proves himself an unlikely hero in the war against You Know Who — you could even get away with calling the kid badass. (BA while wearing a Cosby sweater, no less.)
Sexy, however? That’s a new one. Like, less than a week ago new — when Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 had its London premiere.
For Matthew Lewis, the 22-year-old actor who’s played Neville Longbottom since he was scarfing Chocolate Frogs in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, that premiere was a day full of emotion.
For many getting an eyeful of Lewis on the red carpet — artfully disheveled and outfitted in a three-piece suit — it was the first time they used the word “WILF.”
Take New York magazine’s Vulture blog, for instance, who devoted a moment of silence to Lewis’ shedding of baby fat (and prosthetic overbite): “Where were you when you realized Neville Longbottom has gotten really hot?” they wrote earlier this week.
Where was Lewis, though? Or, rather, has he even noticed that Gryffindor deserves about 10 kajillion more house points since he’s totally won at puberty?
Lewis was in Toronto Tuesday, taking questions from reporters before working Deathly Hallows Part 2’s Canadian premiere. And when Dose.ca asked how he’s reacted to the fuss over his newly noticed hotness, the actor couldn’t have been more stunned if you’d zapped him with a Stupefy spell.
Or, at the very least, he was initially speechless — shrugging, then blushing, while the gathered reporters giggled in turn.
“Um — I’m very uncomfortable with all that, to be honest,” said Lewis, occasionally squirming while hiding his face with his hand.
“Everyone’s very, very nice, it’s lovely, it’s very kind. But I’m — um — very awkward with it. It’s not something, again, that I’m used to,” he said.
“I mean — looks aside, for a moment — yeah, I’m so pleased to have the positive responses from reviewers and fans and stuff. Because this [Deathly Hallows Part 2] is the one that I really want to get right — for Neville, and the moments that Neville has in this film were kind of crucial. … And I wanted to make sure we nailed them,” said Lewis.
“So to hear the critical responses, it’s lovely, and it’s very overwhelming. I don’t hear nice things often, so it’s very good.”
(Please note that following this statement, someone in the room uttered a gooey “Awwwww.”)
As Lewis mentioned, the final Harry Potter sees Neville take on a much more active part than before — active as in action star.
“He’s got such a crucial role, and some really pivotal moments” says Lewis of his part in the series’ final showdown between good and nasally challenged evil.
And while Lewis says he was “very, very nervous” about getting his Rambo-in-a-jumper moments right, he explains he didn’t have to go through many extra rigours to prepare for the role of a wizard warrior.
“We’ve always trained,” he says, explaining he and several cast members were put through exercises in kickboxing, martial arts and the like during the making of the decade-long series. “Sword training was something we had to do,” he says of new additions to his repertoire. “I’ve not had to wield a sword too often in my 22 years,” he quips.
But there are more impactful things to be learned than the proper way to hold the Sword of Gryffindor during an 11-year cinematic education. Being in a company that’s included some of film’s finest performers — “the Maggie Smiths, the Alan Rickmans, the Ralph Fiennes,” as Lewis puts it — comes with some life-changing lessons, lessons that could prove helpful when your name is suddenly being attached to headlines such as “Harry Potter: From Dud to Stud” and “”Hottie Alert! The Sexiest Wizard on the Harry Potter Red Carpet is Neville Longbottom.”
“I’ll tell you something they really taught me, and it’s nothing to do with acting,” Lewis says. “It’s the lack of ego, you know, how they can be so lovely and so easy to work with and get on with. That’s inspiring, actually.”
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