Lewis & Lynch Unveil ‘Harry Potter’ Magic
Lewis & Lynch Unveil ‘Harry Potter’ Magic
– July 16,2009
‘Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince’, which hit Irish cinemas yesterday, is the sixth instalment of the Harry Potter movie franchise and is based on the second-last book of the series of novels. On the day of the film’s Irish premiere, IFTN caught up with cast members, Matthew Lewis and Evanna Lynch who play Neville Longbottom and Luna Lovegood respectively in the series.
Matthew Lewis has appeared in all of the Harry Potter films as the nervous and somewhat ‘academically-challenged’ Neville Longbottom. He was only 12 years old when filming of the first film ‘Harry potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ commenced and, when asked if he finds it hard to watch himself at that age, the 20 year old actor gives this reply: “I don’t do that, not at all. I can’t – it’s a very bizarre! It’s not something I like looking back on, that shy little boy, it’s weird – you know people saying he is endearing and sweet – I don’t like that at all! I had this terrible high pitched voice and I can hear it at Christmas when my parents are playing it downstairs, every Christmas without fail.”
Evanna agrees: “Yes totally, the thing is when you are looking at that you don’t just see your bad acting, you also remember what you were thinking that day because it is shot over a series of days or weeks and you can see through it much more easily than anyone else can. What I find is that when I have watched it a few times it’s OK but the thing I can never watch are interviews! I hate it because when you are watching the film it’s someone else – you’re messing up their character, you are making a fool of them – but when you are watching an interview, it’s you!”
17 year old Evanna Lynch was hand-picked out of 15,000 hopefuls at an open audition in London to play Luna Lovegood – a strange girl who is described as having a permanently surprised look on her face and seems not to care about what people think of her. Hailing from Termonfeckin in County Louth, Evanna has become quite the local celebrity and has even experienced mild celebrity stalking, as she explains: “I remember once I went out on my bike and I got followed home by a car with a woman driving who said ‘I just want to get a quick autograph’ which was a bit funny.” But this is the kind of behaviour that actors have to put up with, when asked whether acting interested her pre-Harry Potter, Evanna says: “I was always interested; I went to drama school in my town. I even joined an extras agency once and when I was small I used to put on plays with my friends and I would try and get all the good parts.”
Lewis (right) with co-star Tom Felton in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
This is director David Yates’ second time to direct a Harry Potter film after his involvement with the fifth film ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’. When asked about his time working with the previous Harry Potter helmers (in chronological order) Chris Columbus, Alfonso Cuarón and Mike Newell, Matthew Lewis has this to say on the matter: “All the directors have their own ideas for the films which I thought was great as it kept the process really fresh each year – a new director each year with their own techniques, but they were all superb, great at getting the best out of everyone and no more so than with David Yates, he has been absolutely superb.
When he first became involved he had come straight from television to this Hollywood blockbuster so nobody really knew what it was going to be like, but he took it in his stride and did a fantastic job and so they asked him back. He is very keen to speak to everyone on the set and he has got in his mind, already, a very vivid image and would literally just say to us ‘you have been doing this, you know the character for a long time what do you think?’ The freedom is great and he is very keen to get you in his office and say ‘let’s do this together’”.
What is most instantly striking about the character of Luna is her ‘alternative’ dress sense. Kate Moss she is not. Placing particular emphasis on the dress Luna wears for Slughorn’s Christmas Party in the new film, does Evanna have any say when it comes to choosing her character’s costumes? “ Well no, they didn’t say ‘do you want to wear a Christmas tree?’” (referring to the aformentioned Christmas party dress). “It takes a lot of work to dress up Luna everyday, she puts a lot of thought into it. They bring out all these clothes and I love it when you just throw these things on – you think ‘Oh that’s perfect’ but Jany Temime, (chief costume designer) will say ‘No I want that button here.’ It’s crazy, but it always looks better.”
As the only Irish actor in the main cast of Hogwarts’ students, Evanna brings a Celtic flair to proceedings. Luna makes frequent references to “myths, legends and is always talking about things that nobody has ever heard of” as Lynch eloquently puts it. The actress is also quick to point out that her own birthday falls in August, or Lúnasa (as it is in Irish), a neat little connection between Luna’s character and Evanna’s Irish roots. Luna’s softly musical accent in the film separates her further from her co-stars variety of British accents and is currently being studied by Rhys Ifans so they can sound similar when he plays her father in the next two films.
As of last February, filming of the next two films has already begun and both stars have filmed some of their scenes. When shooting is wrapped on the last film, Evanna and Matthew will have been playing the roles of Luna and Neville for several years (Matthew alone will have been playing Neville for over ten years!) Having explored the personas of their characters and gotten to know them inside out for so long, will it be hard to say goodbye to Neville and Luna? Matthew nods his head…“Yes, definitely. Neville has been a huge part of my life and I feel I have grown up along side of him because when I first started I wasn’t that far detached from him and the character.
I was quite shy and definitely wasn’t top of my class and I didn’t want to speak up in a crowded room – but as he started growing confidence in his own ability and self-belief, so have I .So he has sort of helped me and it will be a shame to see him go but he is still there in the films and he will be there forever but I am also looking forward to moving on and playing somebody else”
Evanna is of the same mind; “I will be so down because, even with regards the books, I remember reading them thinking ‘I can’t believe this adventure is nearly over’ but then we were doing the films so I felt it was ok. But when we finish the films and you have to go back home I will get a bit down and every time I read the books I will think ‘Oh, I really want to go back, I miss it’”
So doesn’t the magic of cinema mean that Luna and Neville can live forever in celluloid form? “Yes,” Evanna replies, ‘We’re very lucky that it’s all out there on film and all in the books so we can re-live that again. Also, we are friends and we are not going to throw that away.” Comforting sentiments for those who dread the end of the final film!
* Both Evanna and Matthew will join the rest of the cast on set for the filming of the final two books again later this year, Evanna in August and Matthew in October.
* ‘Harry Potter and the Half Blood Pince’ is in cinemas now.
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