What Emma Watson, Rupert Grint And More Harry Potter Cast Members Have Said About The Struggle Of Transitioning From Harry Potter Into Adult Life

One of the most fascinating things about watching the Harry Potter movies — in addition to the exciting magic and wondrous creatures that exist in the Wizarding World, of course — is watching its young characters grow up right before your eyes. Indeed, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, and others spent much of their years transitioning from adolescence into adulthood at about the same rate that their characters did onscreen. 

While their experiences were not quite as dire off-set, they were still faced with their own set of challenges, especially after the release of the final installment of franchise based on the hit book series. See for yourself by reading what some of the Harry Potter cast went through after graduating from Hogwarts.

Emma Watson as Hermione in Harry Potter

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Emma Watson Realized How “Sheltered” She Was While Filming Harry Potter

The stereotype that all child stars come with an expiration date before fame goes to their heads and their career falters does not apply to Emma Watson, who went on to lead a stellar career beyond her days as Hermione Granger — including playing Belle in 2017’s live-action Beauty and the Beast remake and joining the Little Women cast for Greta Gerwig’s Oscar-winning adaptation. The secret apparently lies in the particularly “sheltered” life she had while working on the Harry Potter movies which, as the now 30-year-old actor revealed in the following excerpt from GQ, she did not fully comprehend until later: 

I used to get really frustrated by the child-star stigma that I would get when I spoke to journalists, and I think it's because I lived this very sheltered life, where I'd have a chauffeur come and pick me up to take me to the studios. I'd only see this very specific group of people who I was doing these films with. I'd get back in my car and go home and do the same thing the next day. It was really only once Harry Potter ended and I went to university that it hit me how unusual a position I was in, how different my life could have been.

Watson also clearly had no trouble transitioning into roles that dramatically diverted from her precocious Hogwarts student character quickly after the franchise concluded. For instance, she gave the GQ interview referenced above in 2013, when promoting Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring, in which her character, Nicki, is practically the embodiment of teen rebellion.

Rupert Grint as Ron in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Rupert Grint Can’t Watch The Harry Potter Movies Past Part 3

Also currently leading a career rich in roles that differ from his Harry Potter days is Rupert Grint, who is best known these days for starring on Apple TV+’s Servant and being the face of one of the most disturbing moments from Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities on Netflix. However, he does not have the easiest time looking back on his life as Ron Weasley, as his following testimony to Radio Times in 2018 reveals:

I think those early ones are OK. More time has passed. I can detach myself a bit more from that kid. I did see Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone not long ago, for the first time since the premiere, and I actually enjoyed looking back. But the more recent ones I definitely couldn’t do. I could probably go up to [third film] Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

If I were to rank the best Harry Potter movies, I would agree that Prisoner of Azkaban deserves a high spot on that list. Yet, based on additional comments from his Radio Times interview, it looks like Grint’s reluctance to binge the franchise on his own time has more to do with his own struggles with fame at such a young age and the lasting effect it has had on him since.

Draco Malfoy in Harry Potter.

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Tom Felton Had To Rediscover Himself As An Actor After Playing Draco Malfoy For So Long

Finding a balance between his life in the Harry Potter cast and his life after was also something that Tom Felton struggled with — not that he found himself taking on the persona of the sniveling Slytherin, Draco Malfoy. The actor was actually a little hard on himself when revealing to The Guardian his experience moving on with his acting career following the film series’ conclusion:

First of all, I was confronted by the fact that I wasn’t that good at acting. Auditioning as a 12-year-old is one thing – more or less making sure you don’t look down the lens or forget lines – but as an adult it is very different. In LA it was getting on the circuit: three auditions a day, different scripts, different accents and dialects – skills I hadn’t put into practice, even though I was very experienced in other ways.

Felton, essentially, had to relearn his skills as an actor and discover new ones before pursuing other avenues. However, some of his roles since are not too far a cry from Malfoy, such as when he appeared on The Flash as a forensic investigator manipulated into becoming a villainous sorcerer.

Neville in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Matthew Lewis Struggled To Escape Neville Longbottom’s Shadow

Besides returning to voice the role in a LEGO video game, Matthew Lewis can say he has never played anything that resembles his clumsy-turned-courageous fan-favorite character, Neville Longbottom. However, the actor has not gotten as much attention for his later performances in the likes of the romantic drama, Me Before You, and Terminal opposite Margot Robbie, and based on his comments to Michael Rosenbaum on his podcast, Inside of You, it looks like he takes it to heart:

That can be frustrating -- not that I’m frustrated with anything to do with Harry Potter -- but it’s like you have that voice in your head that goes, ‘Hey you know all that work you did for the past 10 years. No one fucking saw it. No one cares.’ They still think this is the first job you’ve done since Harry Potter.

At least Lewis can also say that he did get some interesting attention for his revealing magazine cover shoot for Attitude in 2015, even if some the reactions were not what he was anticipating.

I suppose we should also take into account how difficult it may be for Harry Potter fans to separate the actor from their favorite character. Perhaps hearing how these actors struggle with the same thing in their careers could help with that.

Jason Wiese
Content Writer

Jason Wiese writes feature stories for CinemaBlend. His occupation results from years dreaming of a filmmaking career, settling on a "professional film fan" career, studying journalism at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO (where he served as Culture Editor for its student-run print and online publications), and a brief stint of reviewing movies for fun. He would later continue that side-hustle of film criticism on TikTok (@wiesewisdom), where he posts videos on a semi-weekly basis. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.