Yorkshire Post – December 27, 2001
UNLIKE his character in the blockbuster Harry Potter movie, Leeds schoolboy actor Matthew Lewis is managing to keep his feet firmly on the ground.
As Neville Longbottom in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, his first broomstick flying lesson goes disastrously wrong when he takes off before he should and goes zooming out of control around the grounds of Hogwarts Castle.
Matthew’s first film role has made him into someone who is recognised in the street and launched him on what could be a lucrative acting career.
That sort of success could easily go to a young lad’s head. But Matthew, 12, from Horsforth, isn’t the sort to get carried away.
He told the YEP: “Life hasn’t really changed that much. I do get recognised when I’m out, but it’s not like everybody knows who I am.
“A boy at McDonald’s came up and asked me if I was in Harry Potter and asked for my autograph and at Leeds-Bradford Airport as we were getting on the plane a stewardess asked me to sign my boarding pass.
“But when I’m back at school (St Mary’s High at Menston) I’m not treated as a celebrity, which I am pleased about, and everyone is much the same with me – although the teachers are being nice to me about the film and people are still asking me questions.
“My mum and dad are very pleased and proud about my part in the film, but they are exactly the same with me now as they were before.”
Matthew, who has had several TV roles since the age of five, has been astounded by the film’s success.
“I was worried before it came out whether people were going to like it, or they might say it wasn’t true to the book, but at the premiere everyone was clapping and I knew it was good.
“I knew it was going to be popular but I wasn’t expecting all this breaking records. It’s quite a shock and it’s just cool to have been part of it.”
Work on the next instalment of the wizard saga, based on the second book Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, is already underway and Matthew is resuming his role as Neville.
He’s been down at the film studios in Watford, accompanied by his mum, Lynda, and rubbing shoulders with the stars once again. Making the first film he worked with Richard Harris, Alan Rickman, Robbie Coltrane and Dame Maggie Smith.
He’s now on chatting terms with another acting megastar, Kenneth Branagh, who plays the part of teacher Gilderoy Lockhart.
“He’s very nice and down to earth and he’s complimented me on my acting. I’d not spoken to him before when he came up and said I was doing really well. I was quite shocked and to get a compliment from him is quite something.”
Matthew has also been delighted to meet up again with his young fellow actors, including the three leading child stars, Daniel Radcliffe, who plays Harry Potter, Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley) and Emma Watson (Hermione Granger).
“Its been great to see them again and they are good friends,” said Matthew.
“We’ve swapped Christmas presents like we did last year when we were working on the first film.”
Matthew, whose brother, Anthony, plays Mark Reynolds in Emmerdale, will be back at work on the film in January.
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