The live-action Neville Longbottom in the Harry Potter movies, Matthew Lewis, stopped by the SYFY WIRE stage on his broomstick at Emerald City Comic Con. Luckily, he didn't need his Remembrall to talk about his time spent acting on one of the most iconic film franchises of all time. Having grown up on such a magical set from the age of 10, Lewis has plenty of memories as an actor and as a fan and, as it turns out, he's actually a pretty big Potterhead.
He started the panel off by thanking all the fans who showed up, stating that he never thought he'd be talking to an air hangar-sized room full of people about one of his onscreen roles. "I just turn up and do a job," he said, adding that it's the fans who create the cultural phenomenon that is Harry Potter. "It's so humbling."
Turning back the clock to 1999, Lewis recounted the story of how he got cast as Neville, the inept-wizard-turned-hero from J.K. Rowling's seven books. As the production of Sorcerer's Stone was ramping up, he was 10 years old, had already been a Potter fan and was desperate for a role. So he went with his mother to the casting call and waited for five hours to audition, preparing himself by reading the part about Norbert, the Norwegian Ridgeback from the first book. As it happens, the Phelps twins, James and Oliver Phelps, who played Fred and George Weasley, were also there, although the three weren't aware of it until later.
Even after getting the role, Lewis didn't get any preferential treatement when it came to new books. He went to midnight releases like the rest of the fans and didn't know any more about the character's future than his fellow readers. But during his first week of shooting, director Chris Columbus took him aside and said the entire week would be about him. Indeed, the first scene was the flying lesson with Madam Hooch (Zoë Wanamaker). Potter fans will recall that during this scene, Neville's broom goes wild and he breaks his wrist. At the time, CGI was still expensive and not as good-looking as it is today, so the filmmakers had to put a broom on a crane and the crane on a truck. Atop all of that was a young Matthew Lewis.
His fondest memories of making all eight movies were getting to shoot at Pinewood Studios, where the James Bond films have been made, and having dinner at Emma Watson's house during the final week of shooting. All the cast members just got to hang out and get drunk together -- they were legally allowed to do so at the time.
Answering questions about Neville as a character, Lewis said he thinks Neville's Patronus would be a Red Panda and the greatest thing about the character is his resilience. He gets knocked down again and again, but always picks himself up. A scene that really underscores this, Lewis said, is the part in Order of the Phoenix when we meet Neville's parents at St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries who were tortured into insanity by Bellatrix Lestrange. This was a moment that Lewis and director David Yates really wanted to shoot for the fifth movie, especially since it's so heartbreaking in the book, but sadly it never panned out.
As for the saddest deaths in the series, Harry's owl Hedwig and the werewolf Remus Lupin are two of the most devastating losses for the 28-year-old actor. Lupin was killed during the Battle of Hogwarts with his wife, the Auror Nymphadora Tonks, but Lewis isn't a huge fan of the latter. He feels that Lupin was too pure to die, but "Tonks can go!" Considering the two had a child together, Teddy Lupin, shortly before their deaths, that's a harsh thing to say.
Buuuuuut Neville did help save the wizarding world by killing Voldemort's snake Nagini (who was also a horcrux), so we can excuse him for such an insensitive comment just this once.
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