By Karl J. Paloucek
The Harry Potter gang has truly grown up. It’s been a long and dark road full of magic, peril and more than a little growth — both personal and physical — for the young wizards at Hogwarts. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 presents the final showdown with Voldemort, and — for the unimaginable few reading this who haven’t read the books or seen the film yet — at what can only be described as the most crucial scene in the story, that paragon of not-being-so-sure-of-himself, Neville Longbottom, played by Matthew Lewis (left in photo above), goes center-stage.
We sat down with Lewis to discuss the film and his life as part of the series, and ended up talking about tattoos and The Beatles as well.
The “XI” tattoo on your arm — what’s that about?
It’s a number that just keeps coming up, for me. I was 11 years old when I got the role of Neville Longbottom. I was in the Harry Potter movies for 11 years.
You’ve been working at this series for much of your waking life. It must be somewhat scary to see it come to an end, no?
Yeah, it’s scary, but it’s a good scary. For the first time in what — 10 years? — I have no idea what’s going to be happening. The future is just wide open.
Not only have all of you grown up, but the films have evolved so much, too. Do you have a favorite, or is it too hard to choose?
It is hard to pick a favorite, but yeah, I’d have to say this one, because it was the last one, and all of the pressure and everything. … And I just remember, sitting in the theater watching it — all of that just fell away and I was able to just get wrapped up in it. I’d always wanted to be in an epic battle scene, you know, like Lord of the Rings, and this was pretty close to that.
Is going back to the earlier films like a time capsule to all of you, now?
I don’t actually like to go back and look at them. I’m very self-conscious as an actor, and it’s just awkward to go back and look at myself … those chubby cheeks!
You’re really at the center of it all in this one, right at a pivotal moment.
That was one of those moments where [director] David Yates was particularly brilliant — he knew just the right thing to say. A lot of the scenes, between takes, people would be joking, you know, but during that scene there was none of that. The atmosphere on set — if there was something that required a lot of focus, everyone was good about that, so you could just get on with it.
I imagine it’s quite bittersweet, saying goodbye to such a transformative experience.
It’s like [one of the Fab Four] said about his time in The Beatles — “Only the four of us will ever know what it was like to be a Beatle.” Only we will know what it’s been like to have been part of this, and we have each other’s backs — we’ve said that to each other.
You’re quoting The Beatles. Are you a big Beatles fan? What are you listening to these days?
I’ve been listening to a lot of The Beatles — I was just listening to Revolver this morning. And Oasis.
There are probably plenty of things you won’t necessarily miss with the end of this series, I’m guessing.
If I never do another film with a red carpet, meeting fans and all that, that’s OK — I’ve done it; I’ve had a good run.
So how is life now for Matthew Lewis, in the wake of all of these years of attention?
My life is sort of in two parts, really — on one side, I play Neville Longbottom in the Harry Potter movies and I get to go all over the world and meet all sorts of fantastic people, and do fantastic things, but then there’s the other side, my life back at home in Leeds, where I still have the same friends I’ve had all my life, and there’s no problem with the paparazzi. It’s the best of both worlds, really.
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” is available starting Nov. 11 on Video On Demand. Check your cable system for availability.
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