Interviews

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Set Visit: Tom Felton

Source: Heather Newgen
July 8, 2009

On screen, Draco is a jealous and condescending kid who despises Harry Potter, but Tom Felton who portrays the villain is actually very friendly with Daniel Radcliffe and talked to us about his view on his character that people love to hate:

Q: You have a major role in this film.
Tom Felton: Yes. A bit more to sink the teeth into, that's for sure.

Q: Talk about that and the challenge about taking on a central sort of role?
Felton: Well, in the story Draco has slightly more of a central plot as far as good and evil. I think that for the last sort of five years he's always been very envious that Harry is the chosen one. I think that he's given the opportunity to be the chosen one for the other guys. I think that at first he laps up the opportunity to do so.

Q: Then he discovers that it's not all it's cracked up to be?
Felton: Something like that, yeah. I think that he has a few internal questions that have difficulty being answered within himself. He doesn't quite realize the severity of what he's about to get himself into, nor the lack of confidence that he really has in what he's trying to achieve.

Q: After all these years and all these films how does it feel for you to finally be taking center stage in a way?
Felton: It's great to find out more about the character and to dive a bit deeper into why he is the way that he is and this goes into his relationship with his a father a bit more. His father is not around in this film and so he feels slightly weaker without him, definitely, but he knows that he's the man of the Malfoy Manner and so he has to step up his game. It's a contradiction too. He wants to step up and be the big shot, but equally he knows deep down that he's not half the man that Harry is, I'm sure.

Q: There's a bit with Snape where no one really knows if he's good or bad yet.
Felton: That's right.

Q: Where do you think he stands then?
Felton: He's not keen on the idea that someone is overlooking him or wants to aid. He loves the idea that he was the chosen one and no one else. "No one can help me. Leave it to me. I'll do it. I'll sort it out." That inevitably doesn't end up in his favor, but I think when Snape tries to interfere with his plans and tries to help him in a good way he's very keen to say no thank you, though not in those words.

Q: And he even breaks off a bit from his cronies, right?
Felton: Oh, yeah. Like I said, in his previous years he never really had much going on in his day to day school life and so picking on the locals was his pastime, but I think now he's certainly deeper in his state of mind and the little trivial things that used to get him through the day don't seem to excite him the same the way they did. He seems to be a lot more distant and wrapped in his own thoughts as you would be if you'd been given this task.

Q: What have you found to be the most challenging thing for this particular production?
Felton: Well, so far we've only been through a certain portion of it and so I'm sure the best is yet to come. I like the idea of this conflicting personality in him. Half of him is desperate to be the next chosen one and so forth while the other half is desperately upset that his father isn't there. He knows deep down that it's not going to happen and that feeling slowly grows and grows towards the end in which it all goes belly up.

Q: Is this the robe that you're wearing through most of the movie?
Felton: [laughs] I believe so. It's sort of like an undertaker's. He's gone to very black and smart this year. Generally speaking, yes. Obviously he has the school uniform for the in hours time, but believe it or not this is casual for Draco. I tried to think about what he'd wear to a wedding or something.

Q: Do you think this reflects Draco more because he now feels more important?
Felton: Yeah, no doubt. He laps up the idea of wearing threads that are not available to every child in the school and he certainly stands out like a sore thumb because of it. It definitely gives him that sense of superiority and his father would have it no other way, I'm sure. He laps it up.

Q: Your character isn't that good, but when you see yourself playing this character do you think that he's horrible?
Felton: Not particularly. I have to admit that in previous years he's always been a bit slimy. He's not really horrible. He's bratty and snobbish and various other words that I can't use, but in this film he's matured a lot, or you'd like to think so, anyway. He has no interest anymore in calling Harry a whatever. He's trying to get this internal job done secretly and so I think it's definitely developed more so.

Q: He does take a real violent action early on while on the train.
Felton: Yeah, that was nice. I've been waiting years to do that. It was very good fun to do that and it's very nice to have the upper hand even if it was only momentarily. It did feel good and it was very enjoyable. I think that goes back to his idea of being the chosen one. He likes the idea of putting one up on the actual chosen one. So that was a proud moment for Draco, obviously.

Q: Your character is constantly at odds with Harry. So what is your real interaction like with Daniel [Radcliffe]?
Felton: Young Daniel. Very well. We've obviously known each other now for many years. It's quite strange because as much as we've grown up together we also haven't because we have sort of four or five months in between films and every time we come back we're both slightly more mature and slightly into different things and so forth. It's useful that we're both great cricket appreciators. We can wind away the hours talking about cricket which I'm sure doesn't interest you at all, but that's generally the topic of conversation between the two of us and obviously we're both keen on films and various other bits and music as well. I'm not sure that we're both into the same music, but we're both very passionate about music. So we have enough in common to remain a healthy friendship.

Q: As an actor you're in the peculiar position of playing a popular character, but a character that everybody loves to hate.
Felton: Yeah, it's a funny one.

Q: Does that rebound to you as a person when you get recognized on the street? Do people tend to get the character and the actor confused?
Felton: I have to admit that I'm very lucky in that when I'm normally dressed I hope that you take my word for it that I don't wander around the streets dressed as such. I try to go a bit more casual. So generally speaking I'm very lucky in that I don't get pointed out or recognized on the street. I've had a few experiences with youngsters over the years, people who are probably slightly too young to understand that I'm not who I am on the screen. So they can hide behind the parent's legs. That's the common one, but it must be okay if the kids are scared. I must be doing something right. I can't be going too wrong.

Q: What do you have that you're looking forward to filming that you've not already done?
Felton: Young Daniel and I have a nice battle in the toilets which I'm looking forward to. That sounds a bit dodgy doesn't it, but I assure you it's all above board. So that'll be fun, doing a bit of an action sequence, so to speak, and of course the final scene on the astronomy tower. I'm very much looking forward to that. I've read the scene so many times that I've got it in my head about how it looks. So I'm actually excited about what's going to be produced.

Q: What's your reaction to book number seven?
Felton: I thoroughly enjoyed it. Honestly, as soon as it was out I was desperate to see what we'd potentially be working on in years to come. I was a late fan of the books. When I first went for auditions I wasn't that familiar with the works. So slowly, but surely I've become a big fan of the stories more than anything else. So I thoroughly enjoyed the seventh one. I know that some people have mixed reviews, but I thought that the end scene with the big battle in the school, evil and good I thought it was perfect. That's not how I envisioned it, but that's how I would've liked it to end. It had a lot of deaths as well which was a bit of a shock, but adds a nice sort of final touch. You can tell that it's the last book by the way that everyone is sort of passing on really. It's going to be hectic. I'm looking forward to it.

Q: Did you flip to the end first?
Felton: Oh, no. I'm a patient man when it comes to those things. I was happy. I knew that it was the last book and I knew that once that was done there would be no more future adventures to go on. So I made sure that I took it relatively slowly. I managed to do a couple of chapters a week. I managed to pan it out over a month or two unlike my friends who all read it in forty eight hours and of course were desperate to tell you everything that happened. I managed to refrain from hearing it.

Q: What do you think about Rupert Grint being the only one of the cast who flipped to the end immediately?
Felton: Really?! I thought higher of him. Really, I did. I'm going to bring this one up the next time I see him. I'm disappointed with the lad. I'm sure that he did it with good intentions.

Q: Draco goes back and forth a lot in that book. Can you talk about that?
Felton: Yeah, it's a bit of a funny one. That bit in the middle I was thinking, "What's going on? Is there something sort of boiling up inside?" Then at the end he goes back to his old ways of, "I'm not going to let you do what you want to do, Harry." I'm glad that there was that final bit and that we had a chance to get it out. I thought there was a really nice bit towards the end, the last few words in the book about Harry seeing his child off onto the train and seeing Draco putting his child on the same train. I thought that would be a brilliant final shot at the end of it all.

Q: His child is named Scorpius.
Felton: Yeah. [laughs] What to say. It wasn't my choice.

Q: If the epilogue is kept in is there somebody that you'd like to see play the older you or would you like to try to be the older you?
Felton: I don't know really. I haven't really given it much thought. I'm sure that they'll attend to that when they come to it. I'll be happy to try to put on a few years if I can do that. Yeah, certainly, but if not then Johnny Depp might be free. I'm probably getting ahead of myself though. I haven't thought of it, to be fair.

Q: Do you think there's hope for Draco to become a better person?
Felton: I really thought that he was going to, but no. Generally I think it's pretty bedded down inside of him that he's just a slimy guy.

Q: I was hoping in the seventh book he might do something good. I suppose that saving Harry would be too much.
Felton: Well, Harry saves him, doesn't he, twice. So I thought there was going to be a big, "Thanks for everything. I'm sorry for being a jerk for eight years or whatever."

Q: He does get punched in the face though.
Felton: Yeah, I get my half comeuppance, I think. I'm just a big punching bag, aren't I, really?

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