Actor and Author Jessie Cave Talks Her Childhood, a Post-“Harry Potter” Career, and Motherhood
Jessie Cave, arguably best known for portraying Lavender Brown in the later Harry Potter films, has grown into much more than a movie love interest. She sat in conversation with the Guardian to discuss everything from growing up with four siblings to her time after Harry Potter to her experiences with motherhood.
A photo of a 4-year-old Cave shows her smiling while painting at the family table in their home in London. She re-created the photo for the Guardian with the same delighted smile. While she doesn’t describe herself as having been “overly creative” as a child, Cave said she finds comfort in seeing a photo of her younger self indulging in arts. She recounted more times with her family, saying she remembers them being similar to “a sporty Von Trapp family.”
Mum would have to take me and my siblings to different sporting tournaments, all five of us tagging along. To make it fun, she would create a play area for the younger ones. Those are some of my fondest memories. To this day, my mum and babies come with me for whatever job I’m doing. We make a home wherever we are.
“Sporty” seems like a correct description because Cave was a competitive swimmer and tennis player as a child, though during her teenage years, she decided to put more of her effort back into the arts and opted to join an art foundation. As Cave continued her studies, she thought more about taking a shot at acting. Her big break came with the role of Lavender Brown in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Cave said she “totally lucked out” and landed the role in three auditions. Her experience on the set of Harry Potter was something of an outlier, she explained.
It was a perfect experience of what being on a film set could be, so friendly and fun. It was, however, a totally inaccurate representation of the industry in general. It was a shock to the system when I went for jobs after that, and those negative experiences shaped and haunted me. I was very innocent, and there was not enough safeguarding – unlike today.
Going to auditions for jobs and finding them to be focused more heavily on appearance made Cave “self-conscious and cynical” about the industry. However, more positive experiences and jobs came later in her career, which she described as joyful.
In recent years, Cave has published a novel, Sunset, and taken her stand-up comedy productions, I Loved Her and Sunrise, to the stage. In addition to extending her talents into publishing, she has grown her family with her partner, Alfie Brown. The couple now has four children together. In her interview, Cave talked about how the birth of their fourth child fell within days of the anniversary of her brother’s death, who died in an accident in 2019. The “hugely emotional experience” became significant as she continued her healing process. Cave said the loss of her brother, Ben, changed how she saw her career.
It’s now important to only do things that are meaningful. It’s taken me a long time, almost four years, but I feel ready to start working on something new. I finally have the courage to stand on a stage and not feel that the audience will be looking at me, thinking: ‘You shouldn’t be funny, because your brother died.’ It’s as if I am opening up to myself again – trying to be brave and not to let the darkness win.
She concluded her session with the Guardian with another poignant look back at her 4-year-old self.
My instinct when I look at this photo is to grab that girl and protect her, her social awkwardness, in the same way I want to protect my little girl who is six and identical to me. But I also want to tell her that good stuff is around the corner, that you have to make the most of what is left and ride the wave of uncertainty. Life is tough and amazing, rent is expensive, but there is so much happiness too.