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Harry Potter & The Order Of The Phoenix - Matthew Lewis interview

Matthew Lewis in Harry Potter & The Order Of The Phoenix

Interview by Rob Carnevale

MATTHEW Lewis talks about reprising his role as Neville Longbottom in Harry Potter & The Order Of The Phoenix, as well as football, fame and the possible fate of his character…

Q. Did you enjoy having more to do in this film?
Matthew Lewis: It was fun – I have always enjoyed playing Neville because he’s been the comic relief in the film, and I love making people laugh. But this year I also have a lot of emotion and drama, such as when he talks to Harry about his parents. It was good to not only be working harder and be in more scenes, but also the diverse nature of the work. I hope it carries on up to the seventh film.

Q: Is it hard to play a nerdy character who’s clearly so very different to you in real life?
Matthew Lewis: It’s kind of strange because I was never really bullied at school. I was pretty confident in terms of school work and teachers and I’ve never shyed away from much but a lot of people have come up to me and said that they were bullied at school and my portrayal of Neville has influenced them a lot in their lives and helped them out. So that’s given me great inspiration to carry on doing the job right. I don’t want to just say I’m a natural, but the books are so well written that you don’t have to do much research. You can just read how [Rowling] wrote it down and perform it that way.

Q. A lot of people love Neville…
Matthew Lewis: It’s surprising how many fans say he’s their favourite character. It’s really cool to think that you’re playing these people’s favourite character who they have ingrained in their head from the book. For them to say you’re doing it right, is superb.

Q. Do you get recognised a lot?
Matthew Lewis: I’m pretty lucky in that I don’t look anything like Neville – at least, I don’t think I do. Around Leeds, people recognise me. But I can still go shopping and I don’t have to wear big hats or sunglasses. I kind of get the best of both worlds.

Q: I understand there was an incident between yourself, Helena Bonham Carter and a wand?
Matthew Lewis: We were doing a scene in the Ministry of Magic where she’s holding the character of Neville hostage and Helena plays the character really well, being sadistic and twisted about it. She was moving the wand about on my head, just teasing me and I’m pulling away in fear. But then she put it straight into my ear and the doctor had to have a look at it and I was deaf for two days in that ear which was pretty weird. She was very apologetic and I can hear fine now!

Q: Do you think Neville’s going to die?
Matthew Lewis: A lot of people have come up to me and said: “You’re going to die mate.” I like to think he’ll be there fighting to the end. If he does die, I’d like it to be really heroic, saving someone else’s life.

Q: On a different note, I understand you’re a Leeds FC fan – it’s been a pretty tough year for supporters, given that the club has now dropped down out of the Premiership into League One football…
Matthew Lewis: I don’t mind talking about it – they broke my heart twice in one year. But we’ll be back, next season.

Q. Did you ever want to be a footballer?
Matthew Lewis: I love playing football. We’re not allowed to do it when we’re filming unfortunately, contact sport, they don’t want a broken leg or anything. Unfortunately, because I’ve been away so much, I’ve missed out on a lot of opportunities to play. Since I finished this film I’ve tried to get a bit more into it. I started playing for a school team, which is fun, and I play a lot of five a side. I nowhere near good enough to go professional but it’s definitely one of my main hobbies. I play three times a week.

Q: I notice you’re wearing a Stone Roses T-shirt – can I assume you’re a fan of retro music?
Matthew Lewis: Yeah, Stone Roses, Oasis, The Verve, Blur – I love all that nineties Britpop. Liam Gallagher came to the studio, and brought his kids along. Believe this, I’d been working Monday to Thursday, and he came on the Friday. So I didn’t get to meet him and I was pretty devastated about that.

Q. Daniel Radcliffe’s also a big music fan isn’t he?
Matthew Lewis: Both Daniel [Radcliffe and I can go back to older stuff like Chuck Berry, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones… any rock ‘n’ roll, we just love it.

Read our interview with Katie Leung