The success and popularity of the Harry Potter franchise was so far-reaching for so long that any of the more youthful cast members to have played a major role in the series will most likely struggle to ever escape their association with the cultural phenomenon. Indeed, Daniel Radcliffe is one of the most exciting young actors around that’s portrayed everything from a farting corpse to a South African political prisoner, but The Boy Who Lived will always remain the defining role of his career, no matter what he goes on to accomplish.
Arguably the most prominent Hogwarts student in terms of character development and screen time outside of the main trio, though, was Matthew Lewis’ Neville Longbottom, who played substantial parts in all eight films spread out over the course of a decade. The 31 year-old has been working solidly ever since, appearing in a wide range of film and television projects including romantic drama Me Before You, noir thriller Terminal, period crime series Ripper Street and sitcom Bluestone 42, but in a new interview he revealed his frustrations at the press for refusing to move on from his tenure as Neville.
“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 ten 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 ten 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.
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 ten years? No one f*cking saw it. No one cares’. They still think this is the first job you’ve done since Harry Potter.”
You can completely understand Lewis’ frustrations, and it’s not as though he’s being ungrateful when Harry Potter acted as the springboard for his career in the industry that opened plenty of doors, but it’s been a long time since he last played Neville and yet you’ll probably never see a review regarding one of his performances that isn’t going to reference the franchise at least once.
It’s a common pitfall of starring in a such a recognizable property at such a young age, and even 20 years after he first brought Neville Longbottom to life, he’s still trying to shake it off.