Matthew Lewis, who plays Neville Longbottom in the “Potter” franchise, talked to ComingSoon.net about his character in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, but he also confessed he’s not sure what’s in store for Neville and he’s hoping he’ll survive and make it to the next sequel.
ComingSoon.net: Can you talk about how your character is changing in this one and how you are adjusting your portrayal of him?
Matthew Lewis: Well, this year, the character of Neville becomes a lot stronger and he sort of loses his vulnerability and becomes a reckless part of this rebellion that Harry is leading against the Ministry of Magic and, in the end, Voldemort and his men. Because he’s effectively lost his parents, with them being in the mental hospital, effectively unable to recognize who he is, he wants so much to in some way avenge them and he knows what he’s doing is right. In some way he wants to make them proud and he just becomes crazy and rebellious. He’s up for a fight anytime, which is just so unlike him. He really comes along. Even though he still is terrified about a lot of things, including the Death Eaters, he doesn’t care. He just goes and does it anyway. That courageous side of him has really come through this year. It just means I’ve got so much more to do. I’ve got to do his hopeless sort of usual run of the mill Neville in the classrooms but then at the DA and the fights at the end, we’ve got to show a more courageous and reckless side of him which just wants to go out there and do good as best as he can.
CS: How has working with David Yates help you get into that character?
Lewis: David has been fantastic. He really is very, very good. He’s had a definite image of the film that he’s had for 12 months or more. Every scene, he knows exactly how he wants it and how he wants every single character to play the scene. He’ll say, “this is the scene and this is what I’m after. What are your suggestions?” So you’ll list off your suggestions and he’ll say “OK, that’s great, we’ll put a little of that in, and maybe a bit of this” and every time he gives me a suggestion, I’m like why didn’t I think of that? It’s perfect. He really has helped me along. I don’t know where it comes from. He would allow me to disagree with him but I just never do, because everything he says is so right. I think it’s really going to show in every character.
CS: Did he make you do a lot of initial preparation?
Lewis: I remember when we first met him, a couple of months before we first started filming, he asked me to re-read the book and look out for some of the different things Neville did. For instance, when he is concentrating he sort of puts his tongue on his top lip and I started to note these to bring the character from the book more to life on the screen. He asked me to look at some groups of people, like fan clubs and things like that, who are based around one thing because Neville is so into his herbology and he wanted me to realize what it is like to be obsessed with something, to be really into something so much that you’d be part of or set up a fan club.
CS: Like Potter fandom?
Lewis: Absolutely and that’s actually exactly what I did. I went to a few sites (MuggleNet and The Leaky Cauldron), those sort of websites and I know a lot of people from there. I started asking people what it’s like being so deep into Harry Potter that you interview, you work tirelessly and try and bring it to the fans. The feedback I got was really great and I think it really helped with the whole herbology side of things.
CS: So you’re channeling Harry Potter fans then.
Lewis: That’s right. Definitely. (laughs)
CS: Have you shot the scene at St. Mungo’s where you and your grandmother are there?
Lewis: No we haven’t. That wasn’t in the original script. That was cut out, but David Yates said he was hoping to get it back in there. I don’t know if it’s going in or not but he was planning on it. I do hope we do it because it’s quite a crucial scene for the character. It really explains why he’s suddenly had a massive change from being the shy one to being the one who just wants to go and fight.
CS: Neville’s character seems to be set up to play a key role in the mythology of Voldemort and Harry. Was that kind of surprising to you?
Lewis: Oh definitely. I was a fan of the books. I read the fifth when I was halfway through the third or fourth and I was reading and thought “wow. This is incredible for this character.” I just didn’t expect it at all. When they said he was going along for the fight, I thought “oh he’s going to get knocked out in the first couple of minutes and just lay there,” but no, he went all the way to the end and that prophecy came out and it was just like I could not believe it whatsoever. There was just no inclination, not for me anyway, that he would ever become like that in any of the previous four books. It was a bit of a surprise. It’s going to be a very exciting final book and I can’t wait to see how it all turns out. Like I say, I am a fan so I just want to read it.
CS: What are your theories on the seventh book, for Neville?
Lewis: I just hope he survives. It would be cool if he survives. I wouldn’t mind if he died so much. That would be cool to do as long as it’s toward the end of the book. That would be nice. There will definitely be something big in store for him, there has to be. Honestly, I don’t have a clue.
CS: How much more is there for you to do in this film versus three or four?
Lewis: I’ve been really busy this year. There are a lot of different scenes that have been put in after the script where David has said “maybe we can throw this in for Neville” or something he came up with literally off the top of his head like he goes “I know what would be funny” and then he explains it. That’s happened a lot, we’re been really busy doing things that aren’t in the script. That’s been a lot of fun and lots to do.