Neville has a much larger role in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 and Matt Lewis couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity to play his character with more edge and to have more action.
Q: Neville has quite a lot to do in these last two films. How do you like getting so dirty and grungy?
Matt Lewis: The first week was really enjoyable. I thought this, “This is fun. This is great.” 12 months later it’s pretty boring now. The novelty has definitely worn off.
Q: Can you give your take on the things Neville gets to do?
Lewis: Neville this year is sort of taking over Harry’s role. He’s the unofficial leader of Dumbledore’s army. He’s sort of barking out orders to people and telling them where to go. He’s really evolved into this leader which I never thought years ago he’d end up doing. It’s really cool to see and to play.
Q: What do you think pushes him into that new role.
Lewis: I think he’s watched Harry all these years be a leader and have so much courage. As he’s seen Harry take on all these responsibilities from everyone, he realizes that they’re not too dissimilar. They both lost parents at when they were very young. He starts to think that maybe he can do this and when Harry leaves the school in number seven, Neville realizes it’s his time to step in and take responsibility. He’s always had this good heart. He always wants to do the right thing and look after people, but he’s never really had the courage to do it and now he’s thought, “Okay it’s now or never. We’ve got to fight this evil. If no one else is going to step up then I’ll do it.” That’s what he does and he’s not perfect, but he gives it a go.
Q: Was that fun for you to play?
Lewis: Oh yeah, definitely. It’s brilliant.
Q: When did you know Neville was going bigger places? Did you find out with us when the books came out, or did you know sooner?
Lewis: No, I remember when I read number five. I was just going back to school after half term and I read it. I went to the bus stop in the morning and asked my best mate Anthony if he’d finished reading it and he said, “Yeah.” He was like, “You’re going to have some wicked stuff to do.” That’s the first time I found out was when I finished number five. The battle stuff we did there was cool. I really enjoyed that. I had no idea what he’d go on to do in number seven. The only idea I thought was when I spoke to J.K. Rowlings at the premiere of number five and she said to me, “I’ve written some really cool stuff for you for number seven,” and I was like, “Don’t tell me anything. I don’t want to know,” and she said, “Okay, but you’ll enjoy it.” Then I read the book and I was like where is it? She promised me and then it comes at the end of it. It was pretty cool. So I’ve spent the last couple of years waiting for this moment. It’s really fun.
Q: Do you think she always planned for Neville to go there or did you inspire her?
Lewis: Obviously I like to think the latter. I doubt it. I think she had it in mind all the time. Neville is a great character. To think she had that from the beginning is actually amazing. His story arc is a pretty special evolution from this shy, vulnerable child who was easily bullied and had problems with the history of his parents. He was far from perfect and to grow up into someone who is fighting the good fight and doing the right thing. It just shows that anyone can do it if they have that kind of belief and heart. It’s an enduring role and can be quite inspiring. I think Neville is great and I love him.
Q: Do you think that’s transferred well from the book page to what you’re filming now?
Lewis: Yeah, I hope so. Every year we’ve tried to focus very much on that part of Neville – this idea that he’s so much more than just the geeky one that fell over and stuff. There was always an underlying thing there and slowly as the years came on we tried to add a bit more to his background. I think this year we really show Neville coming full circle. He’s now this leader that Harry was before he left. It’s pretty cool and I’m really looking forward to it. It’s great when you receive fan mail from people who say they’ve been bullied and the character of Neville has inspired them to stand up to bullies. That as an actor is just the most amazing thing you could ever imagine to think that something you’ve done resulted in that person’s inspiration. That’s pretty special and I think we’re doing all right on that front and hopefully we can carry on.
Q: Fans think of Neville as being badass in the 7th film. Do you feel like that?
Lewis: Oh definitely. It’s hard not to when you look in the mirror and you’ve got blood all over your face and covered in dirt and you’re hair is a mess and you’ve got a big sword that’s also covered in blood. It’s pretty cool. It’s written in a way where Neville comes across like a real hero. I’d love to tell you all about it, but I really can’t. There’s some great stuff with Ralph Fiennes and some other Death Eaters. Neville is reckless and insane and is probably going to get killed but he does it anyway. It’s really cool. David [Yates] is trying to fit as much stuff in there as possible and I’m always saying, “Maybe you should give him the finger or something.” It’s going to be really fun and I hope people who are fans of Neville enjoy it. I hope everyone does. It’s going to be a good film and I hope we go out on a high. I’m sure we will.