Mashable (at Universal Orlando)
‘Harry Potter’ Actors Reveal the Magic of Wizarding World Theme Park
Potterheads have been teased mercilessly for months about the magical additions to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Florida, but the wait is finally over. Our Hogwarts letter has arrived.
Actors from the Harry Potter franchise apparated to Orlando last week to help unveil the new attractions at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
The additions, which will open to the public July 8, include a functional Hogwarts Express, Diagon Alley (complete with a three-story Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes joke shop), a Leaky Cauldron restaurant and Gringotts Wizarding Bank with an accompanying ride and animatronic goblin bank tellers.
Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom) and Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood) spoke to Mashable about their favorite parts of the theme park, their reaction to the upcoming Harry Potter spinoff and whether Luna and Neville are better off as just friends.
What is it like being back in the Harry Potter world, alongside some of your castmates?
Evanna Lynch: We see each other more than you think. We do a lot of these events, and we end up of seeing a lot of each other. But as actors who live in different parts of the world, it’s nice when you come back together and it’s the same.
Matthew Lewis: The best bit of the whole trip has been the whole team back together on the red carpet.
What are your favorite parts of the new addition to the theme park?
Lynch: My favorite was walking through the archway at the beginning of the park. They created a whole London sector … as you go through the archway, suddenly everything becomes lopsided, crooked and colorful. It feels like you are leaving your Muggle life behind.
Lewis: Gringotts Wizarding Bank. It was a set that I’m unfamiliar with, because I wasn’t apart of the scenes shot there. So when I went into Gringotts at Diagon Alley, that was my first experience with it. I got to experience it like the fans, and it sort of blew me away.
What part of the Wizarding World theme park most greatly resembles the sets for the movies?
Lynch: Hogwarts Express. It has that really old feel, that hundreds of thousands of students have passed through it. They kept the same fabric from the films … even the lettering is old. It definitely feels like it was taken right from the film set.
Lewis: The locations created [in The Wizarding World theme park] are more accurate than our sets were. Our sets had a lot of cameras and facades, but here, it’s completely immersive. You can go down the alleyways and go into the shops. They painstakingly went over the movies and the books…it’s absolutely amazing how so much of it is so accurate.
Where would your characters spend time in Universal Studios?
Lynch: Seuss Land. There are lots of colors there.
Lewis: Neville would just get lost. Or maybe it would be Jurassic Park because there is lots of foliage around and he likes foliage.
If your Harry Potter characters had to get Muggle jobs, what would they be?
Lynch: Luna would start a religion or cult. It would be all about animals and spirituality and celebrating color. She wouldn’t like to be tied down. And maybe move to an unknown country.
Lewis: A traffic warden, giving tickets out … parking tickets. It’s just a little bit of authority but not enough responsibility. (Evanna strongly disagreed, and insisted Neville would have been a baker.)
What would your own Patronus be?
Lynch: A cat. I relate to them so much. I like their attitudes, but I’m not as cool as them. They have this whole arrogance; I would be the lame cat who just hangs around trying to emulate the cool ones. Or a squirrel, I like squirrels.
Lewis: I’d like to think I’d be a lion, but I’d probably be a koala bear. I’m quite lazy and they’re cute as well. Koala bears have a lot of potential. (He then launches into an anecdote about how One Direction band members faced a Chlamydia scare due to contact with koala bears: “It’s true they are carriers of Chlamydia — not One Direction, just the koala bears.” )
What part of the Harry Potter universe do you hope will be added into the theme park in the future?
Lynch:I would love to see the Triwizard Tournament underwater challenge with the mermaids and the water life. See them brought to life and interact with them … the Grindylows could grab your feet. Or the Forbidden Forest. It was a place Harry Potter met a lot of cool creatures.
Lewis: I would love to see the Chamber of Secrets. For the film, we only had a few sets built completely, and the Chamber of Secrets was one. We even had all the tunnels leading up the sides. I remember being 12 years old and having read the book and walking onto the set and all you could hear is the water dripping. It just sounded so eerie. It would be a great ride with the Basilisk.
What wizarding power do you wish you had in real life?
Lynch: I’m always late, so apparating would be the best thing. I don’t really like traveling, what’s the point? It’s such a waste of time.
Lewis: ‘Accio,’ because I’m a lazy koala bear, and I would love to use spells to get things.
In the eighth Harry Potter movie, The Deathly Hallows, Part 2, Neville declares his love for Luna, even though that wasn’t in the books. Did you appreciate the change in their story lines — and do you think Neville and Luna would make a good couple? Or do they work better as just friends?
Lynch: I think it was a war thing. Like, “Oh my god, everyone is dying, we just need to do something crazy.” It would have been a bit awkward afterward. The emotions were running high. Luna and Neville are both strong inside, and they aren’t extroverts but have an inner confidence. They could bond over that, but eventually Luna would want to see the world and Neville would want to stay put.
Lewis: Luna and Neville should remain best friends. I think it was just a wartime romance [in the film].
What is something everyone should experience at the Wizarding World theme park?
Lynch: There are certain places where you can use your wand and cast a spell. Windows in Diagon Alley where you can make trolls dance. I didn’t expect that.
Lewis: You can get a wand and interact with your environment … if you’re any good. I gotta practice. Warwick Davis (who played both Griphook and Hogwarts’ Professor Flitwick) was an absolute natural. He had the “swish and flick” down. He was doing all the spells.