Bad boy made good
The Harry Potter movies aren’t just about Daniel Redcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint. FiRST speaks to the rest of the young British actors playing their magical schoolmates
By Yeoh Wee Teck
November 19, 2010
After a decade of seeing Harry Potter actor Tom Felton on screen as bleached, pale and mean, it was slightly disappointing when he appeared before the international media looking decidedly normal.
When he walked into the room, there was no instant recognition.
And that’s the way the 23-year-old Briton – who plays teen baddie Draco Malfoy, the chief school nemesis of titular character Harry Potter – likes it.
He told FiRST: ‘I am left to my own devices a lot of the time. I think it’s the hair thing. I have some people do a double take though. But I do think a lot of people attach you with the hair.’
Felton had sandy, dark blonde hair when we met him at a roundtable interview held at posh hotel Claridge’s.
He looked at ease, even slightly sleepy.
Far from the haughty Slytherin brat who wears that slap-him smirk in the Harry Potter movies, Felton came across as polite, humble and alarmingly regular.
He added: ‘No one would dye their hair that blond because it’s a bit ‘Look at me, look at me’.
‘With blond hair, it’s a bit of a struggle to walk down Oxford Street, but without, no one bats an eyelid.’
But this is it, we reminded him – it’s the end of a decade-long (dye) job.
Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows – Part 1, the first half of the final movie, opened in cinemas here on Wednesday.
In it, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson) and Ron (Rupert Grint) set out on a perilous mission to track down and destroy the secret to Voldemort’s (Ralph Fiennes) immortality and destruction, but there are dark forces in their midst that threaten to tear them apart.
Felton has been part of the Harry Potter cast since the first movie back in 2001. And it has been rewarding so far, garnering him a worldwide fan base.
But along with the fans come the crazies.
Felton said he receives ‘lots of great gifts from around the world’, but one, in particular, stood out.
‘A 45-year-old gentleman from America who legally changed his name to Lucius Malfoy (the name of Draco’s father) sent me the adoption papers to adopt me.
‘He wanted me to divorce my parents, change my name to Draco Malfoy legally and come live in his house, which he aptly named the Malfoy Mansion.
‘He sent us all the paperwork to prove that he was completely serious.
‘My mother kindly denied his request.’
For Felton, bidding goodbye to the Harry Potter series came twice.
‘For me, there were two final days.
‘There’s one when all of us kids were together on the set. Well, we’re no longer kids. And then, I had one more day of shooting with a second unit just by myself.
‘There was a lot of talk about the last day before we actually got there, so I thought it was rather hyped-up. And then it become an anti-climax.’
He continued: ‘It’s bizarre we’re just saying goodbye and talking about not filming together any more, but I do bump into the others left, right and centre and we’ll always be part of the HP team.’
Felton said he had wanted a memento from the set but was denied as security was very tight to ‘prevent people from taking things’.
He added: ‘They were conducting car searches on the way out to stop people from doing that. We thought of a great joke to tie up Daniel (Radcliffe) and shove him into the boot and try to steal him!’
Obviously that didn’t happen, but Felton managed to smuggle one important item – the silver serpent ring Draco wears.
Now that life as he has known for half his life will never be the same again, he says that he will miss it but is ready to move on in the acting industry.
Felton revealed: ‘I’ve just come back from Vancouver and I’ve finished filming Rise Of The Apes (the prequel to Planet Of The Apes).
‘I was very nervous and anxious but it turned out to be such a great experience it just confirms this is what I want to keep doing.’
Then there is his music.
Currently, Felton’s songs are available on iTunes. He has even written romantic ballads for his girlfriend, British stunt assistant Jade Olivia Gordon, who plays Draco’s future wife Astoria in Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows – Part 2.
He said: ‘I’ve started my own record label. A couple of investors came in and asked if I wanted to do anything with music.
‘I wasn’t really that keen to do anything with my own music but I think there are a lot of young musicians out there who haven’t had a chance.
‘The idea is to create a record label that helps the little people and the people who don’t have the resources to have their own distribution deal.
‘As of now, nothing is set in stone but we’re hoping to sign our own artist by the end of the year and possibly record some songs myself.’
Hogwarts graduating CLASS
To the die-hard Harry Potter fan, each and every character in the series is distinct and unique.
I must confess, I have not watched a Harry Potter film in its entirety. And after a 14-hour flight, everyone looked the same to me.
FiRST met supporting actors James and Oliver Phelps, Bonnie Wright and Evanna Lynch – who all play Hogwarts students and Harry’s allies – at a roundtable interview to talk about Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows – Part 1.
Their answers were mostly similar.
To summarise, they all want to continue to be in showbiz, they had no clue if their scenes would end up on the cutting room floor, and their favourite scene was the ‘wedding scene’ (a set piece revolving around the nuptials of characters Bill Weasley and Fleur Delacour).
For sure, said the group, they will miss each other.
The most famous among the less famous is probably British redhead Bonnie Wright, 19, who plays Harry’s girlfriend and eventual wife Ginny Weasley.
On the last day of filming the franchise, she said: ‘It was one of those days you thought would never come, but when it did finally come around, it was a bizarre experience.
‘You want to enjoy the whole day but at the back of your mind, there is the sadness of finishing.
‘You don’t realise what you have until you’ve finished. But I think it’s when we watch (Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows – Part 2, out next July) and the credits roll up that it will finally hit us that it’s the end.’
Giggly girl Lynch – who plays the loopy Luna Lovegood – had been at school on that last day of filming.
The 19-year-old Irish starlet said: ‘I was actually thinking I had homework to do, but everyone was saying ‘Last day, last day!’ – it didn’t hit me till the end of the day.’
Lynch decided she’d be positive about it.
‘I finished school and I finished Harry Potter. I was sad and I’ll miss it, but you got to look at it positively – it’s all over now, I’m not tied to anything.’
Except school, that is.
Lynch confessed she doesn’t know what’s next for her, except repeating her A-level exams.
She said: ‘I wasn’t very good (at my studies). But after that, I want to do more acting.
‘At the moment, I have braces, so I can’t do any films. I’ll have to wait till March when I remove them.’
Wright says she is currently going back to school too because ‘I love every part of learning’.
But give her the right movie role and she will be happy to move.
She said: ‘At this moment I’m talking about new things. And if I have to leave London to work, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.’
As for the ‘wedding scene’ which tops their list of best on-set memories, Englishman Oliver Phelps, 24 – who plays prankster George Weasley while his brother James plays Fred Weasley – said ‘it was fun to film’.
In fact, at that point of the interview, everyone suddenly became unwilling or unable to say more about the movie they were supposed to promote.
The only clue came from Wright, who revealed: ‘Friendship will be very tested in the first film.
‘Anything we’d never done, anything we’d never exploded, we got to do in the second film.
‘You see Hogwarts in a different way. It’s quite a roller coaster, this last one.’