January 10, 2006 – The Yorkshire Post
A few months ago he was walking down the red carpet for one of the most eagerly- anticipated films of 2005. But, as James Reed reports, it’s now back to the classroom for Harry Potter star Matthew Lewis.
ANY teenager who has starred in four blockbuster movies by the age of 16 could be forgiven for getting carried away with his success.
But Matthew Lewis’s feet are still firmly on the ground. Ahead of filming on the fifth Harry Potter film, he has been back at school in Leeds studying for his A-levels.
It all seems a little mundane for someone used to working alongside some of the biggest names in Hollywood, bringing some of the most popular children’s books of all time to life.Matthew plays Neville Longbottom, the bumbling classmate of Harry Potter at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, who is playing an increasingly prominent role as the stories progress.
And after five years in the movies, it is perhaps no surprise it took a little persuasion for Matthew to keep studying after finishing his GCSEs this year.
On set, he joins his fellow teenage cast members for lessons with tutors, and returns to school between filming. He said: “I didn’t want to go back to sixth form – that’s just because I don’t like school – but my parents convinced me. They explained how it was for my my own good and I listened to them. I think I could have done better at my GCSEs, but things have been quite fractured. You do a stream of work, then you are at school and sometimes you end up doing work at school you have already done, and vice versa. But the quality of teaching is very good, I think really it was more me finding difficulty with keeping up with both sides.”
The decision to carry on studying also reflects his own awareness that being a child star does not always guarantee the work will keep coming in as you grow older.
But with a string of appearances on television in programmes including Heartbeat and Dalziel and Pascoe before his role in the Harry Potter films, his prospects are good.
“It’s not one of those careers where you are guaranteed to get something out of it. It has been a good experience so far, but they might not call me back after the fifth one and I might never work again. I need another career to fall back on. I may have to get a regular job, or go to university. I know it can happen, so I have tried to be aware of it.”
Despite his realism, he makes no secret that acting is his first love, and the chance to play a character from the Harry Potter books is the icing on the cake.
Fans of the series have seen the character of Neville Longbottom become more and more important, with many believing he is set to play a crucial role when the saga finally comes to an end.
It is all good news for Matthew who admits to being glad Neville is now about more than “falling on the floor all the time”, although he insists he still reads the books as a fan first and actor second.
“I am a fan of the books, and when I first read them through it doesn’t really register, and then at the end you start thinking ‘wow, that’s going to be really fun to do’.”
Being a teenage actor might pose plenty of challenges, but it also brings rewards which make you richer than the average 16-year-old, something Matthew admits to enjoying.
“I get to see the money and maybe I see a little bit too much of it, but I try and save and invest as much as I can. I spend too much money on games and DVDs, and I am looking at a new TV as well. I think I probably spend too much on electronics.”
Having more money and disappearing for months on end to star in films and attend premieres is enough to make anyone’s peers jealous, but Matthew insists his friends have been key to him enjoying his lifestyle.
“They don’t mind at all, I don’t think they even talk about it when I am not there, and I am so glad about that. I have got a lot of good friends that I have had from primary school. With going to high school there are a lot of new people but everyone is fine with it.”
In fact, he considers himself fortunate to have two contrasting lives, and a second set of friends with his fellow Harry Potter stars.
“I speak to everybody, really. I saw them recently at the premiere and that was good. Everyone gets on really well and there’s a lot of people who are surprised that a group of kids who spend a lot of time together and didn’t know each other are like that, but everyone just gets on.”
The on-screen friendship will resume very soon, as filming is due to start shortly on the fifth Harry Potter film.
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