My Leeds Interview – March 13
How did you get the part of Neville Longbottom in Harry Potter?
Matthew Lewis: I got the part when I was about 11. Being an actor was down to my brother. He was into acting, he started at eight and I was about two at the time. My mum had to chaperone him, so I got dragged along, too. I thought it was normal. I started doing it myself when I got a bit older. I’d read the Harry Potter books and loved them. My mum says that I said, ‘if they make a film, will you take me to see it?’ I never dreamed I’d be in it. I went to an audition for it at the Queens Hotel. I queued for five hours and didn’t think I had much of a chance. It was two months before they said they were interested.
Why do you think you were chosen for the part?
Matt: I don’t know. It’s strange to think of all the people who must have auditioned for that role. I had a round face and I was a little chubby, which is how they wanted Neville to look.
How has being part of Harry Potter changed your life?
Matt: I grew up quickly. I was interacting with adults on a daily basis. You had to get used to the cameras. I don’t feel like I lost my childhood. There were loads of people the same age in the studio, so it was like being at school, but every now and then you’d do some filming.
What is it that kept you in Leeds?
Matt: Because of Harry Potter it was important to me to figure out who I knew and for what reasons. The friends I’ve got here are the friends I had before. I’ve always been quite a homeboy. Even when I was filming, I’d come home every weekend.
Where do you live now?
Matt: I live in Horsforth, not far from my parents. I lived with friends in Burley Park when I was 18. They had a spare room in a student house. A year was definitely enough. The worst thing was the mess, it was awful – and most of it was mine!
Do you intend to stay here?
Matt: I like being here, because people aren’t as fussed. My agent says if you’re happy to be in Leeds rather than London, then stay. At the end of the day, nobody wants a miserable actor. I’m not interested in being a celebrity, I just want to be happy. And Leeds is where I’m happy. I’m very keen to stick to my roots – I still support Leeds Rhinos, Leeds United, so my life hasn’t changed too much.
Do you get recognized?
Matt: I went to a drive-thru McDonald’s recently and the guy behind the counter must have told a group of girls that I was in the car in front. They came over to say hello. I don’t ever get used to it.
Do you have a favorite memory of your home city?
Matt: It has to be when Leeds won the rugby Grand Final. I know the team, so I was really chuffed for them. It was probably the best rugby I’ve ever seen. I knew they could do it. To see them at Headingley stadium after they got the trophy back, to sit there with them all and share a few drinks, it was great.
Another great memory is my 21st birthday in Headingley last year. I invited everybody from work, and didn’t expect them to come all the way from London. It was the first time that my friends from Leeds had met friends from Harry Potter. I’d been worried, wondering how these groups were going to mingle, would there be scraps, what’s going to happen? But everyone got on like a house on fire. There was Dan Radcliffe at the bar, and Rupert Grint checking into his room – it was surreal, but great.
Where’s your favorite place to go out?
Matt: Call Lane is pretty good. And I love a night out at HiFi. There is so much diversity in Leeds, you can go anywhere and have a good time –it’s not always about where you are, it’s about who you’re with.
What was the best part of the Harry Potter experience?
Matt: The things I learnt and the people I was around. I picked up so much. I learnt much more than I would have at university. Dan Radcliffe is great too, he doesn’t get as much credit as he deserves from his peers. If you saw him on set, how hard he works… I’ve never seen anyone work as hard as that. He’s got a great energy to be around. We’re good friends.
What do you put your success down to? Is it all hard work?
Matt: You’ve no idea how lazy I am! Any success is 100% because of the people I have around me. My friends and family, mum and dad, were amazing. And I couldn’t have hoped for a better cast and director.
How do you deal with the success?
Matt: The success blags my head a little. With the last film, I was nervous because I’d always been in the background. And suddenly I had a much more prominent role. It was pretty nerve-wracking. Then it came out and the reviews were amazing. It was very overwhelming and I didn’t anticipate it.