Matthew Lewis photographed at the Peninsula Hotel in Chicago on July 15. (Lenny Gilmore/ RedEye)

Matthew Lewis photographed at the Peninsula Hotel in Chicago on July 15. (Lenny Gilmore/ RedEye)

RedEye met Lewis on the day the film came out in the U.S., which was also the day after a night at Studio Paris and Hub 51 left him tweeting, “I am very hungover. I am very busy. This is an ill-advised combination. Chicago, my apologies.” No apologies necessary. ARIEL@TRIBUNE.COM | @MISSARIEL

Where were you when you first heard or read that Neville was going to be such a big deal in this last movie?

I was in bed, where I usually am. I’m quite lazy, you see, as I’ve just been in bed there. I was in bed and I was reading the book, and it was one of those things … like, I’d get a new book and I’d just, I’d wake up and I’d read them all day, in bed, and I just wouldn’t get up until I finished them. And that’s what I was doing. And J.K. Rowling had told me a few years previously that she’d just finished the book and that she’d written this amazing bit for Neville Longbottom. And she wouldn’t tell me what it is, but that it was going to be good. So then I read the book and was just totally blown away by it, really. It was amazing, really. I read it as a fan first, as I always do, you know, I read it as a fan and got lost in the whole world, and then all of a sudden, when you turn half a page, and you think, “Wow.” And you go back and you look at it and you go, “Jeez, that’s going to be incredible.”

Did you call anyone on the phone?

No, I didn’t. I just sat there and was like, “Pheww.” You know? My mum had already read it and she was like, “That’ll be a fun one.” And I was like, “Yeah, should be good.” It’s really weird because you never really know. It’s like a four-stage process. Like, it’s in the book, great. Is it in the screenplay? And it was. And then, “Are you going to film it?” We did. “Is it in the final film?” Find out premiere night. And it’s four stages that you just, each time you never know whether it’s going to make it. So, um, you know, I just had to wait and see. But it was there.

Are there any scenes throughout this Potter process that you wish had made it into the movie?

Yeah, there was one scene where I really wanted to see, where Neville visits his parents in St. Mungo’s Hospital. Just because it really summed up why Neville is as he is, really. You know, you see him there with his parents. There’s a really tender moment where his mother gives him that sweet wrapper and his gran just misses it so she doesn’t know what she’s doing, but to Neville it means the world. The thought that his mother’s giving him a gift, no matter how insignificant. Everything he does is for them, and that’s where his courage comes from, that’s where his loyalty comes from, it’s from his parents. And it would have been nice to see that. And we would have also seen the spectacular Kenneth Branaugh reprise his role as Gilderoy Lockhart, and that would have been fun, but you know, you have to make these sacrifices.

So instead, you had to make do with people like Gary Oldman.

I know, what a shame.

It’s cool to talk to you now that the movie’s out and people have seen it. I think a lot of people are wondering what’s with all this Neville-Luna innuendo?

Yeah! Well, basically, it was just you know, something that Steve Kloves put in the screenplay. And you know, a lot of the fans were sort of enjoying the whole Neville-Luna thing. I think a lot of fans saw them as being kindred spirits, two people who were very, you know, outcasts who came into their own, really. And the other thing, obviously J.K. Rowling said that Neville goes on to marry Hannah Abbott, but he’s only 17 years old at this point and he could have a little thing with Luna. They seem to match, don’t they, at that early stage, when they’re at school? They just seem to match. It was quite nice. And again, back to his parents, that’s why he does what he does in this film, it’s because of his love for his friends, for Harry, Ron, Hermione and, of course, Luna.

A lot of the media attention surrounding this movie is the fact that you and Neville grew up to be not so nerdy.


What do you make of all that?

I’m struggling with it, to be honest. Yeah, it’s, I don’t know what to make of it. It’s very overwhelming. I can’t wait to return home and retreat to relative obscurity again. I’m going to go lock myself in my house for some time. Yeah, I know, it’s, I think everybody’s been caught up in the end-of-Harry-Potter delirium. And I think everybody’s going to very soon realize that I’m very, very average-looking and, yeah, I’m a fraud.

Have you asked any of any of your co-stars for tips on how to deal with the attention or the paparazzi?

No—actually the paparazzi don’t follow me around. You know, they don’t. I’m very fortunate that I almost get to live the best of both worlds. I have this amazing time doing “Harry Potter” and traveling the world and stuff, and then I go back to my home city of Leeds and I have the same friends as before, I can go to the soccer and I can go to the pub and I’m left alone, you see. Which is why I’m struggling so much with this attention because it’s just not what I’m used to. I mean, it’s very flattering, don’t get me wrong. It’s not what I’m used to.

But yeah, Dan [Radcliffe, Harry Potter], Dan’s been, Dan’s someone I’ll always look up to because he’s someone who’s had this level of fame since he was 11 years old, you know, almost had it a bazillion more times than I’ve had in the last week, and yet, he remains very firmly on the ground. And he hasn’t changed a moment since the day I met him. He’s inspiring.

OK, I read a bunch of news reports that Tom Felton [Draco Malfoy] wants to be a rap star.

I don’t know, but I read the same thing. Was it on Twitter or something? What was it about, do you know?