KICK-ASS, HOGWARTS STYLE
Every hero needs a sidekick, but Neville Longbottom is nobody’s sidekick. He’s Kick-Ass, the Hogwarts version of it.
PORTRAITS LORENZO AGIUS
Matt Lewis’ appearance outside the Hogwarts uniform his character, Neville Longbottom, wears is far from what we see on screen. The young man – born in Leeds, 27 June 1989 – is tall and has a longish face. He also has a tattoo, an ‘XI, written on his arm. “It’s my lucky number,” he says. “I’m not superstitious in the slightest. Ever since I was young and playing football, I’v always worn the number eleven.” Football, of course, is one of his hobbies. It’s no secret that he is a big supporter of his hometown club, Leeds United. “In fact, there’s an actual true story,” he continues. “There’s a Leeds United player called Eddie Lewis, who was an American, who played on the left wing. He wore the number eleven and it was really easy for me to go into the shop and say, ‘Can I have Lewis 11 on the back of my shirt?’ And so from then on I always wore eleven and I wear it for everything.”
Lewis is also confident – a far cry from the rather clumsy Neville, although his character will have a golden moment in Part 2 – and is able to eloquently converse on many topics outside Potter. TFI‘s conversation with Lewis started off randomly – about Lewis’ other favorite sport, cricket, and dining in Leeds. Deeper into the conversation, we began to seriously think that if Kick-Ass, the wannabe superhero of Mark Millar’s titular comic book, needs a partner, he would do well to team up with Neville, the ultimate ass-kicking hero of Hogwarts, or even Lewis himself…
Hi. You sound like you got a sore throat?
Yeah. I don’t know why. I just woke up with it yesterday and it hasn’t gone yet.
Have you been cheering at cricket too much?
Mmmh, might be. Did you watch yesterday? It was pretty good, wasn’t it? That’s what cricket is all about. [the England vs Pakistan match took place the day before this interview]
We saw your sad Tweets at @mattdavelewis that you couldn’t be there…
Yeah, Especially because it’s in Leeds. I’d very much like to be there.
Speaking of, since you’re obviously very familiar with the city, is there anywhere in Leeds you could recommend for a nice meal?
Oh okay. There’s an Italian place called Bibi’s. Very old school, 1930s Chicago style…
Thanks! So now we start… can you tell us how making Deathly Hallows Part 1 and Part 2 are different from before?
It was filming both films – not back to back – but simultaneously that was kind of difficult, because you had to remember which part of the film you were at and what was known at the part where you were acting, because we were going from Part 1 to Part 2 and Part 1 again and it was all a bit all over the place and that kind of was confusing. We’ve never had to do that before, so this was the first year that I’ve had no idea what it’s going to look like whatsoever. You know usually you can get a vague clue, because you’ve been following the script all the way through, but this year I’ve no idea. I don’t remember half of it, because we started what, filming February 2009… so it’s going to be weird. But it was great, you know the crew were fantastic, as they have been every year and we really couldn’t have done it without those guys. We’ve got such a good bunch there, who knew exactly what they had to do, and the schedule could have been a bit of a nightmare if we’d not had such a great bunch of people behind us, so that was all right.
Neville’s so heroic in the end, which is wonderful, so what’s your definition of a hero and who is your hero?
Well, the Leeds Rhinos [his favorite rugby team] were my heroes, last night! I don’t know if you caught the game; they were unbelievable. But no, my real definition of a hero is… obviously, all the people who are in the Middle East right now. You know, those guys are the heroes. I don’t personally know anybody who’s out there, but I know friends of friends that are and it’s shocking. It’s wholly shocking that in the twenty-first century, that sort of thing still goes on. Those guys are out there, doing a job, and they don’t wanna be there, but they are, and I think that’s courage and heroic.
He’s also the only one that ends up teaching at Hogwarts. What do you think?
That’s right, he’s the Herbology teacher. That was kind of cool, because I can see Neville being that kind of teacher, who’s not very loud. I saw him, when he’s a teacher, as a sort of Slughorn teacher, I don’t know why. Not with all the celebrities and whatnot but a bit bumbling… but he obviously knew his subject more than anyone else. It’s kind of a nice end for Neville, because I don’t think he was good enough to go on and become an Auror, or whatever, but I think it was quite cool that he became a professor.
Next summer all the fans are going to have to go through horrible Harry Potter withdrawal, which you have done this summer, so can you give us any hints on how to survive?
Ah, it’s all right, you know. It’s like when I was a huge fan of Star Wars. Even though films 4, 5 and 6 had come out long before I was born, when I finished Return of the Jedi, I was really gutted, like I didn’t know what to do. So I just watched them again and again. It didn’t matter to me that there weren’t any more coming out, I could just watch the whole of films 4, 5 and 6 again and again, so I guess that might help… but not if you want to get out of the house! I’ve quite enjoyed finishing Harry Potter. It’s sad that I don’t have a job anymore but I’ve enjoyed finishing it. Being able to play football again has been cool, as does auditioning for other stuff.
Is it hard to audition again after all these years in Potter?
It’s been a weird thing that I haven’t had to audition… because I acted from five to eleven, in loads of different stuff, so I was used to auditioning. Then from eleven to twenty-one, I’ve not done anything else, so it’s interesting. The first few auditions, I hated with a passion, I just absolutely hated it, and then after two or three, I started to get back into it, and I quite enjoy that process, now… getting a new script and reading it and getting into a new character, so it’s pretty cool.
Now that you don’t film Potter anymore, do you still see the other cast members?
I had my twenty-first birthday in June and they all came up to Leeds for my twenty-first party, which was really cool and which I didn’t expect at all. I mean, I invited everyone, and I booked a massive room, but I thought, “man, they’re not gonna come… it’s a long way, like two hundred miles, and they’re all really bus…” But everyone came – Dan, Rupert, James and Oliver, Tom, the whole gang and half the crew as well – so it was really nice to see everyone in Leeds, which was really bizarre for me… But, yeah, we try and go to gigs together. If I’m ever in London, for auditions or whatever, you know, I always give them a call and say, “Do you want to go for a drink?” or something like that.
For your next projects, would you like to do something totally different from Harry Potter?
I would like to, yeah, but I’m not fussy. I know how difficult this industry is and I just wanna act. But if I could do something different – it doesn’t even have to be totally different, just play a different character, and maybe a different genre would be nice – then that’d be great.
Is there anyone you’d particularly like to work with?
I’d love to work with David Yates again. I just thought that he was such a good director for us. I thought he really brought out the best in all of us. He always knew exactly what to say, and he was so talented at evoking the right emotions and stuff in people, and he always had such a vivid image of what he wants before he starts. You know he immersed himself in the film, in the books, and he knows exactly what he wants from every scene, which is always helpful for us. So, yeah, I’d like to work with David Yates again.
Has there any interesting encounters with fans so far?
There was a weird guy and it’s always the weird ones that strike you. There are probably some lovely stories I can tell you, but it’s always the weird guys that pop into your head. To be fair, about 99.9% of fans that I’ve met have been absolutely fantastic, lovely people. But there was this one chap in New York – and my parents were with me in New York – when I was busy doing something. He approached my parents and I don’t think he even asked if it was me, he just said to them… he sort of took my mum’s hand and said, “Thank you for giving birth to him.” My mother found this wholly terrifying, and told me afterwards and I thought that’s pretty weird. I remembered that one.
Anyway, let’s ask something light… do you have any favorite non-Harry Potter book?
Oh, without a doubt, His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman. If I was to pick a favourite of the three, I’d probably say the first one, to be honest, The Northern Lights. I thought it was amazing. I didn’t see the film because someone told me not to see it. I probably should do, at some point, but someone who was a fan of the books told me not to see it, but I should do at some point. But the books were just so perfect, and so well written, and that was a series that I could really just lose myself into. The world was just so well drawn that it was wow. AA/LJ
Note: This online version of the interview contains additional Q&A answers from the one printed on the magazine (the one in green). They had the taken out due to character limitation but they’re put back here for your reading pleasure.
For more of my articles in TOTAL FILM INDONESIA, buy Issue #13, November 2010.