If you grew up reading the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling and remember waiting in line to see the films dressed up as your favorite characters, welcome to your steadily approaching 30s and 40s! That’s right, it’s been nearly a decade since the last Harry Potter film hit theaters, and the kids who spent their childhood years binging the whole series are all grown up - and so are the cast members. Even though Harry Potter launched the careers of a lot of child actors, there were some downsides to the cast spending their own childhoods on set. Franchise star Matthew Lewis, who portrayed Neville Longbottom in all eight Harry Potter films, explains that there is another lasting price to having been in the films besides dedicating an entire childhood to the series.
Matthew Lewis has had ten years worth of work not even related to Harry Potter but, in an interview with Michael Rosenbaum on an episode of his Inside of You podcast, the actor says he hasn’t lived Neville Longbottom down yet. Lewis says people tend to ignore the decade’s worth of films and shows he has contributed to and instead, still compare him to the boy he was when he played Neville. Here it is in the actor’s own words:
I still to a degree get a bit frustrated sometimes when people sort of say, ‘Oh, he’s’ -- for example I’m doing this show at the minute; it’s on PBS, and like a lot of the headlines are, ‘He’s no longer Neville Longbottom anymore.’ It’s like, ‘I haven’t been that for 10 years.’ And I have done things that have been so wildly different. Like, I’ve been in dramas that have won BAFTAs and done all of this kind of stuff. And I’m not bragging; it’s just like I’ve done all this stuff and like 10 years later it’s still like people are making the claim I’ve sort of jumped from Harry Potter into this and have completely ignored the journey it’s taken to get there.
The frustration is warranted, of course, as Harry Potter is beloved by many generations of fans. I myself spent my own childhood jealous of anyone who was about to dive into the world of Harry Potter and portray literally any character from the Wizarding World. However, spending 10 years of your life trying to make a name for yourself apart from a fictional character only for the public not to acknowledge you as anything else has to wear on a person.
In the same interview, Matthew Lewis clarifies that he has no ill will toward the Harry Potter series but that it is discouraging to be putting your heart into projects just to feel like no one is watching them or that they may as well not even exist. In Lewis’ own honest words:
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.
Over the last decade, Matthew Lewis has indeed been putting in good work. He has leading and recurring roles in a number of TV series as well as roles in a range of films. His newest project is the PBS series he mentions in the interview, All Creatures Great and Small, which is actually a reboot of an older series. PBS has renewed the series for a second season, so there's great opportunity to check out Lewis in an ongoing project -- and in turn see him as something other than just the guy who played Neville Longbottom.
Harry Potter is a way for fans to revisit their childhood, but it’s important to remember that looking to the future is just as rewarding! The cast of the series is still with us, but they’re growing into different people, just as we are. So next time you’re having a Harry Potter marathon, make sure to incorporate some of the casts’ new stuff, too.