Matthew Lewis Talks to Parade Magazine
Matthew Lewis has spent the past decade portraying Neville Longbottom in the Harry Potter saga. Now, with the final film just weeks away, the 21-year-old actor is ready to say farewell to the bumbling Gryffindor student who turned into an unlikely hero.
Lewis talked to Parade.com about his favorite Pottermemories, the souvenir he swiped from set, and whether or not he’d revisit the role of Neville if J.K. Rowling ends up writing another book.
He’s been a fan of Neville Longbottom since the beginning.
“I read the first four books when I first got the part, so I knew the character of Neville, but I never anticipated what he was going to go on and become. J.K. Rowling sort of hinted at things, but she never told me anything because she knew I was such a big fan of the books. So seeing Neville become this fighter was great.”
From zero to hero.
“The great thing about Neville is that even though he was scared and terrified, he always wanted to do the right thing. He always had a good heart, loyalty, and courage. In this last film, we see him take on the role of leader in Harry’s absence. He’s reluctant because he doesn’t want to be this leader, but he knows it’s the right thing to do, and if he doesn’t do it, no one else will. So he steps into the role and takes over.”
Why he’s ready to see his Potter years come to an end.
“I’ve been so pleased to be a part of it for such a long time. I feel very privileged. Every year that I got to come back I felt like I was stealing a bit of time. I enjoyed it so much. When it came to an end, I wasn’t really sad at all. I was just proud of everybody and really excited to see what we made.”
He will miss his close friendships with Dan, Emma, and Ron.
“The friendships were one of the main things that kept me going. The chemistry was really clear in the film, and it kept everyone coming back each year. I’ve done two jobs since Harry Potter, and it’s been strange getting to know a new group of people. I’ll miss all the guys, but we all still live in England, and England is not that big of place, so we’ll still see each other. I’ll miss working with them. Hopefully one day I’ll work with some of them again.”
Remembering his original audition.
“It was at the Queens Hotel in Leeds, which is where I live. I was a huge fan of the books, so I asked my mom if we could go down to the audition. We were in line for about four or five hours and we were given a raffle number. I remember I was number 463. We just had to wait and wait and eventually we got in and I had to read a paragraph from the book, which was the paragraph where Harry is talking about the dragon egg from the first film. So I read that and left and that was it. It was two months before we heard anything. We pretty much said, ‘Well, maybe next year we’ll try out for film two,’ but we got a call asking if I wanted to come meet Chris Columbus, the director, and it just moved really quickly after that. I can’t really explain how I felt. It was just amazing.”
On his Neville Longbottom transformation.
“In the earlier films, I had a fat suit on, which was not very enjoyable. I also had bits of plastic behind my ears so they would stick out, and there were false teeth as well. But as Neville got a bit older, we started slowly making him a bit cooler, not totally cool, but a bit cooler. In the last film, Neville’s got no fat suit, no false teeth, no plastic behind his ears, but I was still in hair and makeup for a long time because there’s lots of blood and cuts and bruises. I think the first time we put all the blood and stuff on, I was in hair and makeup for about two hours.”
He managed to keep a memento of the old Neville.
“I have got the false teeth at home. My parents have this weird sort of shrine for me, this shelf in the corner that has memorabilia and pictures and stuff from the films over the years and the teeth are in there. They were the bane of my life for a couple years, but it’s nice to have them. It’s kind of gross though.”
During the filming of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Helena Bonham Carter accidentally ruptured his eardrum.
“That is true. There was a scene when Helena is holding me hostage and she thought it would be good to sort of move the wand around in my ear and really tease Neville. It did look really cool. It looked sadistic and menacing, just like Bellatrix is supposed to be, but there were explosions going off and stunts and when this one explosion happened, I went one way and Helena went another and the wand just went straight into my ear. It went in just over an inch and I couldn’t hear anything out of my right ear. We finished the scene and then I went to one of the stuntmen and told him what happened and we got a doctor and he said it was going to be okay, but that it was going to hurt for a few days. He gave me some painkillers and I just went home. I can hear absolutely fine now, and Helena was very, very apologetic. She introduced me to her husband Tim [Burton] at the premiere, so I let her off!”
On seeing the Hogwarts set destroyed in Deathly Hallows: Part II.
“Everyone said how sad they were, but I thought it was really cool. To come into Hogwarts and see the Great Hall, which has been there for a decade, reduced to this rubble was so cool. And the courtyard looked like Normandy in 1944. I always wanted to do a war film since I was a kid and this was me doing Harry Potter, but also being involved in this battle situation. I really enjoyed it. It was strange to look around at these sets that you’ve known for so long and see them in a different light.”
On his low-key life.
“I live in Leeds, which is about 200 miles north of London, and I get to go and do all the Harry Potter stuff and make great films and be part of this wonderful thing all around the world, and then I get to go home and chill out with my friends in Leeds and go watch the football and go to the pub. I get recognized now and again, but the paparazzi aren’t following me around. I get to go to the shop and buy bread and milk and no one worries me. I literally have the best of both worlds. I’m so lucky.”
On his favorite character (besides Neville, of course).
“I always liked Professor Lupin. I remember reading The Prisoner of Azkaban and really liking him. And I like Sirius Black a lot, obviously, because Gary Oldman just creates that aura of coolness around him. He’s just very rock and roll.”
On his favorite Potter memory.
“It was the broom lesson scene with Madam Hooch, and Neville gets on the broomstick and it crashes around everywhere. That was my first day at work. I was scared enough as it was and then they told me the scene was going to be all about me and I had to get on this broom stick and fly around with all these stunt guys. I was 11 years old, so it was pretty surreal.”
Would he come back if there was another film?
“I’d definitely be excited about new books and I’d read them. As for the film, I’ve been doing this for 10, 11 years now. I’m ready to go and do something different. I’m ready to say goodbye to Neville and see what else I can do. But if it was a genuinely good story, which if J.K. Rowling wrote anything, it would be brilliant, and they asked me, then, yeah, I would be quite excited. But I think our story is finished. I was very happy with the way it ended.”