Yorkshire Post – 2002
Potter stars mourn screen veteran
MILLIONS will remember the late Richard Harris as an eccentric hellraiser, but one Leeds schoolboy will always recall the veteran actor as a down-to-earth grandfather figure. Matthew Lewis was filming with the 72-year-old star on the set of the latest Harry Potter movie just weeks before his death on Friday.
The 13-year-old from Horsforth, who plays Neville Longbottom in the Hollywood blockbuster, says the whole cast are experiencing mixed emotions in the run-up to the movie’s premiere this week.
Matthew said: “He was always such a friendly, nice man whenever I spoke to him. He was just like a grandfather because he was so admired and respected by everyone on the set.
“I had heard a few rumours about him but he would always speak and even signed a couple of books for me. He wouldn’t say no to anything you asked of him.
“It is going to be very strange going to the premiere without him being there, and I’m sure everyone else will feel the same way. Obviously we are very excited about the opening night, but we will be a bit sad that Richard won’t be there.”
Matthew, a pupil at St Mary’s High School in Menston, spent months working alongside Harris, who fought illness to play the part of Hogwarts Castle headmaster Albus Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
But he finally lost his battle against Hodgkin’s Disease – a cancer of the lymphatic system – just days before his last film was due to debut in London.
The movie is the second big screen adaptation of the JK Rowling novels, the first – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone – was a massive box office hit and Matthew promises the sequel won’t disappoint.
He said: “If anything I think this is going to be even bigger. It is a lot darker yet more funny at the same time, so it’s definitely going to be interesting.”
Matthew also scotched the suggestion that he suffers from the same problem as his co-star Daniel Radcliffe, who many believe is now looking too old to play the junior wizard.
He said: “Dan definitely looks older, both in his facial features and in terms of how much he has grown recently. But it’s not really anything for me to worry about.
“The characters are supposed to age with each book anyway, but although I am 13 I don’t look quite as old as he does yet.”
Source – x