Over the course of eight movies, Matthew Lewis endeared himself to audiences the world over in the role of the clumsy, anxious, and unexpectedly heroic Neville Longbottom. Now, Lewis is a grown actor, with a steadily-increasing resume of character roles in a variety of media. In a recent interview, the actor admitted it can be frustrating to constantly be known as “that guy from Harry Potter“.
“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.”
The curse of typecasting is one that most child actors who were part of popular movies have to bear. The cast of Harry Potter is no exception. Of the group, Emma Watson is the only child actress who could be said to have transitioned into a successful adult leading actress in high-profile movies. Daniel Radcliffe has often spoken about actively avoiding doing big movies after Harry Potter and prefers to stick to smaller, indie fare. According to Matthew Lewis, many fans make the mistake of assuming he went straight from playing Neville Longbottom to his present projects.
“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 truth is, the staggering, once-in-a-generation popularity of Harry Potter means that Lewis is most likely forever going to be known for his role as Neville more than any other character he ends up playing. But despite struggling with the circular nature of his career always getting tied back to Harry Potter, Lewis clarified that he does not have an issue with being a part of the franchise itself.
“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 f****** saw it. No one cares.’ They still think this is the first job you’ve done since Harry Potter.”
While Lewis’ frustration is understandable to a degree, he is still better off than the vast majority of out-of-work actors circling the entertainment industry every day, desperately looking for that one role or audition that can allow them to actually embark on a journey as a paid actor. Who knows, Lewis might yet find that one elusive role in his career that finally pushes Neville Longbottom out of the minds of his adoring fans.