We’ve watched them grow up before our very eyes, and in some cases, we’ve grown up right along with them. Part of growing up as a child star in the film industry is stepping outside of those comfortable roles and into more mature and emotional characters and stories. In the last two years, many of the cast from Harry Potter have been building their careers on the broadway stage, in independent movies, and on television. We’ve seen what Daniel, Rupert, and Emma have been up to lately, but what about the rest of the supporting cast?
Harry Melling played Dudley Dursley in five of the Harry Potter films, but he hasn’t stopped trying to learn more about his craft. Since filming ended, he has trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts (LAMDA) and can currently be seen on London’s West End starring in The Hothouse. He and his fellow castmates talk about honing their craft in interviews for the Independent.
“The films were a great learning experience, but I wanted to do theatre, get better, to have a process.” He changed his image, too, literally shedding the weight he carried as Harry’s horrid cousin so that he could move on from the role to better things. “It’s lovely that people don’t recognise me now. Especially after playing such a vulgar, fat, hated person, I felt like I wanted to move on – maybe play Hamlet one day, or have a career like Benedict Cumberbatch’s. I think every actor has the fear of being typecast.”
As Cho Chang, Katie Leung was caught in a love triangle between Robert Pattinson and Daniel Radcliffe. It’s not a bad place to be, but she had a lot to deal with from fans after kissing her onscreen love interest. “People say there was a lot of hate mail after I kissed Harry, but I wasn’t affected by it. Now and again I’ll be recognised, get the occasional ‘Are you the girl from Harry Potter?’ Sometimes I say ‘yes’, sometimes ‘no’. I still find the whole thing very strange.”
Like many of the cast, she has begun a new journey by attending drama school and accepting roles in the theatre. In 2012, she debuted in Wild Swans at the Young Vic theatre in London and is studying drama at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow.
One of the most surprising transformations from the cast is Matthew Lewis, who played shy, sensitive, and nerdy Neville Longbottom. He has spent his post-Potter career trying to convince casting directors that he can be more than the role that gave him his big break. “It was quite difficult when I first finished, because before I could convince people I could play a character, I had to convince them that I wasn’t Neville Longbottom. People might expect me to do another Hollywood film, something bigger than Harry Potter. But that’s impossible: it was the biggest series of all time.”
Matthew has convinced quite a few people that he has what it takes. In 2012, he starred in BBC1’s The Syndicate with Timothy Spall, debuted on the West End in Our Boys, and will star in the upcoming release of the movie The Rise (Wasteland). You can view the trailer here.
Luna Lovegood is one of the quirkier characters in the Harry Potter franchise, but beloved by many for her ability to always be who she is without any excuses or regrets. The actress who portrayed her on-screen, Evanna Lynch, was a fan of the books before she tried out for the role. “I’d dress up and queue for hours to buy the books on the day they came out. When I was 11, I was ill with an eating disorder and Harry Potter seemed to be the only thing that was there for me. It was my whole life. So I wrote to tell J.K. Rowling and she wrote back. We sent letters for a while and she was really supportive.”
While she struggled with the thought of whether or not to continue acting after the series ended, Evanna ultimately decided to pursue it as a career. “When the films ended, I struggled. Did I want to continue acting? What should I do with my life? I had to grow up a second time. The good thing was that there were so many others on set going through the same thing.” She has appeared on television in the series Sinbad, acted in a short, independent teen comedy called G.B.F. (she IS in the trailer – let us know if you can recognize her!), and will begin a tour in the UK on stage playing the wife of the great escapist Houdini.
One of the most recognized gingers in the world (or maybe just the Harry Potter world!), Bonnie Wright didn’t stop acting or learning when her role as Ginny Weasley ended. She took what she had learned on set and made it her life. “I was such a curious person on set, asking ‘what does that button do?’ and wandering into the costume or prop room. I learnt about film-making, and that had a huge impact.” After appearing in all eight films, the actress turned to film school, studying directing and writing at London’s University of the Arts. Her short film, Separate We Come, Separate We Go, was shown at Cannes last year and starred fellow HP alum David Thewlis. You can learn more about her directorial debut on the website for her film here.
The sixth film in the franchise was Frank Dillane‘s first acting job, but it appears it won’t be his last. “Harry Potter was my first job. I went along and auditioned with everyone else. Although I grew up around movies, I don’t know that I assumed I was going to be an actor. But back in the day, if your father was a tailor then you would usually be a tailor, too.“
After filming for his role as a young Tom Riddle ended, Frank starred in an independent film Papadopoulos and Sons opposite his father, actor Stephen Dillane, most recently known for his role as Stannis Baratheon in HBO’s Game of Thrones. He also recently graduated from The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and made his stage debut at Theatre Royal Bath in the play Candida. “Theatre’s a whole different beast to film. It requires a lot more of you. Candida was difficult, stimulating but very wordy.”
The role of Ron’s brief love interest, Lavender Brown, was won by actress Jessie Cave at an open casting call. She was only 19 when she auditioned and got the part, and feels the role set her career in motion. “Playing Lavender was a catalyst. It made me realise that I needed to work out what I have to offer and that jobs weren’t just going to come to me. I still have to audition. Your life doesn’t change because you get one amazing job.”
The comedic timing she displayed as Lavender in the Potter films can be seen in a new stand-up show at the Edinburgh Fringe in August. Jessie is also working on projects for television, including a sitcom she is currently writing for Big Talk and also writing short films for her website. You can check out Jessie’s short films and learn more about her television roles here.