TF Meets Dumbledore's Army: Neville Longbottom

Is this a much bigger part for you in this film?

Yeah, absolutely. It’s much bigger than I expected, there’s much more of the book written into the script, which is nice. My character is much more integral to the story and we find out a lot more about his background and why he is as he is. He’s still got the comedy and humour aspect from before, but there’s also a lot of action towards the end, which I’ve not done before.

That was a lot of fun to do. We go to the ministry of magic and we’re fighting the death eaters, there’s a lot of running about and we fall through this door and into oblivion. It was kind of a Mission Impossible stunt with wires on our chests, just hanging in the air! And we did jumping from rock to rock, which wasn’t very high but it was fun to do anyway and I had blood running from my nose. It was just fun to do stuff I hadn’t done before, it was like being in an action movie.

I suppose you’ve been building up to all these things as you’ve read the books, seeing what lies ahead for your character?

Yeah, it’s really weird that, being able to know what you’re going to be doing in a few years. I can completely lose myself in the book and when I get to the end I think wow, I’m going to be doing that in a few years!

Did you do the same as everyone else and rush out and buy the book to see who died?

My dad actually went out and bought me the sixth one at Tesco and I read it in like a day, I just love it so much.

What do you hope happens to your character in the last book?

I’d like him to live! Well, I don’t mind him dying as long it’s in a really heroic way, saving everyone else’s lives. That would be ok. But I think he will see it through to the end, fighting along side Harry all the way.

How has it been, growing up on the big screen?

It’s quite weird actually; it’s almost like leading two completely different lives, being two very different people and not being called the same name. I go to work, put on a fat suit, have a side parting put in my hair and have these things put behind my ears to make them stick out. Then at the end of the day, I get to take it all off and be me again. It’s very bizarre, but I always look forward to it. I guess that’s why I do it, to get to be someone else for a while.

Do you get recognised much?

No, not really. Although around my hometown of Leeds I do get recognised a little bit, what with regional newspapers and TV programmes and just because people know me from school or whatever. But when I’m down in London, I’m fine. It’s great; I can go shopping, go down to the local Morrison’s and pick up my shopping and not get mobbed.

You were in Heartbeat, how different is it being in a Harry Potter film?

Well the amount of people who work on the films, I mean, just look at the credits to see how many people are involved. The scale of the sets, the amount of money put into it – it’s unbelievable, it’s like nothing I’ve ever done before. But we work nothing compared to the crew - they work so hard. When we come in, in the morning, they’ve already been there for a few hours and they leave a fair few hours after. They do about double the months do. It’s something else, it really is. It’s indescribable until you see it – the scale of it is just miraculous. And then coming down to five star hotels in London doing interviews for people all over the world – it’s something not heard of in Heartbeat!

What’s the worst thing about doing it then?

I think it is actually being away from Leeds. I love Leeds so much and all my friends back home, it’s tough being away for five days a week and not being able to go to mid-week parties and that kind of thing. But the pros out-weigh the cons.

What about your schoolmates, how do you catch up with them?

Well with filming, school is still a bit fractured and holidays are different down here from up north so we break-up at different times. My teachers have been great through out my acting career and they make sure any work that needs to be sent down gets to me and they make sure I do it!

After bring in Heartbeat and going onto to do films, has it given you a taste of what it could be like and made you aim a bit higher?

Yeah, I’d very much like to stay in films, just because of the scale of things really, you don’t get to stay in these kind of hotels and do international press on Heartbeat! This is so much fun and so are the premieres. It’s just indescribable the amount of fun I have at those – you never get used to it, ever. To hear people screaming out not Neville but Matthew! I’ll never ever get over that. Although I wouldn’t say no to going back to TV, because I had a lot of fun doing that, but doing this type of film isn’t something I want to stop just yet.

How do you fill your time in between filming? Some people say it’s quite tough to be on your own?

Yeah, it is quite tough, being away from home and that. I usually spend a Tuesday doing nothing as there’s no filming and it’s really boring. They don’t like us playing football or any contact sports so we usually just listen to music or watch films. I always eat all these massive cakes that they have out, not because I’m hungry, but just because I’m bored and they’re so delicious I can’t stop eating them! I get so fat during filming, seriously! I won’t need that fat suit much longer!

Are you very competitive with your musical tastes with Dan?

We do like very similar music, but I don’t think he’s that into Oasis or the Stone Roses, but we do like having debates about whose music is better – it’s usually the north versus the south. Rolling Stones versus The Beatles, that kind of thing. The north is really exciting place to be at the moment, what with all the great bands coming out. My brothers actually in a band that are doing really well, they’ve just got a video sorted out that will be on MTV soon.

You must be getting used to the fact that this family you’ve been getting along with, in front of and behind the cameras is going to be breaking up soon?

Yeah, it’s very strange to think that after all this time, six years already and however long to go and it is going to come to an end. It will be like with the books, where you’ve got to know the characters and when it comes to an end, it’s going to be very disconcerting, I’m not really looking forward to it. But I can drive now so I can still go to see everyone hopefully.

So it’s not just Dan, Rupert and Emma, you guys are all friends together?

Yeah, I’d say that Dan and Rupert are my best friends and we’re always in Rupert’s room playing pool or darts – he has the best room ever! It has a pool table, table tennis and a massive TV. Or I’m in Dan’s room with some new album he wants me to listen to.

Do they make a big deal of it if you have a birthday while they’re filming?

I’ve never had my birthday while they’re filming, but they’re actually fantastic with it, they get a cake sorted and if we’re filming in the great hall, everyone gets up on the tables and sings happy birthday, it must be so embarrassing! But I would love it just once!

You’ve been acting since you were five, who got you into it?

Well it started with my brother, who’s a bit older than me, when he was eight he got a part in Heartbeat and I was two, so we had to be chaperoned by my mum as we were both under 16. So I just grew up on TV sets and I just kept nagging my brother’s agent to ask if I could join up. He said I was too young at three and four, but when I got to five he said to come down when I was six and then I got the part for this TV film called Some Kind Of Life with Jane Horricks and Ray Stevenson. I play the son of Ray Stevenson. The Dad has a motorcycle accident and becomes brain damaged and regresses back to a five year old. It’s all about how the wife and the son cope with this.

You’ve done conventions before – how did you get on with meeting all the fans?

Yeah, they’re really hard work – not the fans! The conventions themselves! Meeting the fans is the one thing that I actually love, getting their feedback and seeing how what I do for a job is actually influencing their lives. People actually say to me that they are being bullied at school and the teachers don’t listen and watching Neville has really helped them. When they can feel it and relate to it, it’s just the best feeling ever! To have so much fun, to get paid for it and still to affect peoples’ lives in that way is great and I do love those conventions because they allow me to meet those fans.

Are you consciously looking around now for things that are really far away from Neville?

Well I’m working on my A levels now and when I’m away from filming I just like to have a proper break and relax and see my friends and have my rest time. But after Harry Potter, I definitely want to start going for other roles. I’ve been wondering what to do and I do quite like comedy, I genuinely love making people laugh. But what I really enjoyed about this film is the emotional, drama side of Neville’s character - it was a real challenge. Anything that could challenge me would be great. He becomes really reckless and courageous in this film, he doesn’t care about his own safety, and he just wants to help out his friends. He’s so quiet in the first film and then you get to see inklings of his courage in other films, so to see him completely come out of himself in this film is really great.

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