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Matthew Lewis: “I had to wear false teeth for a few years”

Matthew Lewis on Harry Potter, the scene he wishes hadn’t been cut from the films, and who he could depend upon in a heist

In the Harry Potter books, Neville was a chubby, awkward kid. Were you worried you’d be replaced after you hit puberty and became quite good looking?

I don’t know about the good looking bit.

I’ve read comments on the internet.

Oh Jesus. Definitely at one point between films two and three I shot up in height and lost a lot of puppy fat and I wondered if they were going to recast me – we were only contracted to two films at a time. I thought were they going to recast me? It didn’t keep me awake at night but I considered it a possibility. I’ve since been told there was never any question but I reckon in some dark room somewhere in California it might have come up.

That would be the first time anyone in California has worried about someone not being ugly enough.

I had to wear a fat suit and false teeth and stuff to stick my ears out, which was pretty grim for a few years, but it meant I got to keep my job so I can think of worse things.

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When you were reading the books were you happy to see Neville transform into a hero?

It was such a surprise. I spoke to Jo Rowling at the premiere of Harry Potter 5 and she said she’d just finished the final book and there was a really great bit she’d written for Neville. I said, “Don’t tell me, I want to read it”. The book came out and he’s this changed man, leader of the resistance and the stuff with Voldemort at the end I thought, ‘bloody hell that’s incredible!’ We were still a few years away from shooting all that. It’s an odd feeling to be reading what you’re going to be doing in a few years time. And it’s a process as well. You read the book and you’re like it’s in the book that’s great, is it going to be in the script? Yeah, it’s in the script. Are we actually going to get round to filming it? Yeah, you’ve filmed it. Then is it going to be in the final picture or is it going to get cut? And yes it was in the final picture. You never really know until you go to the cinema and see it.

Between films two and three I shot up in height and lost a lot of puppy fat and I wondered if they were going to recast me

Were there any moments in the books you were disappointed didn’t make it into the films?

There was one in particular that David Yates and I spoke a lot about actually. It was a real shame that we just didn’t get round to shooting it. I don’t know how familiar you are with the stories.

Quite familiar.

There’s a scene in Order of the Phoenix when Neville visits his parents in St Mungo’s Hospital. It’s the first time we see Neville’s parents and they’ve been tortured to insanity. There’s a brief moment where his mother gives him a sweet wrapper and it means absolutely nothing to anyone else in the room but Neville believes that his mum recognises him. It’s a nice little moment in the book and I remember being really passionate about that scene. And I thought it really conveyed who Neville was and why also in the final film he becomes this hero – he’s doing it all for his parents. I thought that was a real important part of his story arc and his journey and David agreed and unfortunately we never got the chance to do it. We were both a bit gutted by it.

Have you since picked roles to escape the Harry Potter shadow?

You would think so with the stuff that I’ve done but not really. The Syndicate was totally different and The Rise is a heist film.

Is your character in The Rise more like you?

Not really. Apart from the Leeds connection. He’s streetwise. There’s a scene when someone’s sold him a dodgy PS3 so he just goes over and kicks the shit out of him. That’s not something I would do. If someone sold me a dodgy PS3 I’d be like, “That was very naughty, don’t do that again.”

You probably wouldn’t buy a dodgy PS3 though.

No, I’d go to the proper channels, Amazon HMV, whatever.

So is it Oceans 11 in the North?

It’s about this guy who is framed for heroin possession by a not very nice chap and he spends his whole time in prison thinking of revenge. He comes out and tells his friends about this extravagant plot, which doesn’t have a cat in hell’s chance of working but they’re so loyal to each other they end up helping.

Do you have the kind of friends who would accompany you on a heist?

I think so. I’m literally in the middle of helping out my mate move house now. It’s the least he could do in return.

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