On Friday at 5:30, the line snaked through the Hyatt as eager fans waited for a chance to see Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom) and James and Oliver Phelps (Fred and George Weasley). From a coveted front row seat, Lauren Monroe said her two-hour wait was absolutely worth it. When all the chairs were full, the doors closed on disappointed faces, but the lucky crowd inside roared cheers of “Neville” and “twins.” At last, the long-awaited stars appeared.
Beaming at the crowd, they took their places at the table, and the revelations began. And the confusion. Is that Oliver on the end and James in the middle, or vice versa? It was impossible to tell, until the twin in the middle mentioned being Fred. Okay, James, the truth is out! The Phelps twins were as charming with their natural brown hair as the striking Weasley ginger mops in the movies. But Lewis, attractive and slim without the fat-suit he had to wear as Neville, was the most surprising and never at a loss for a quick one-liner. He brought along a lovely friend, too—Ellie Uttley, who sat quietly to one side and seemed as pleased and enthusiastic as the three stars.
When Lewis and the Phelps twins were asked which other character they would have liked to play in the Harry Potter movies, all three picked bad boys: Lucius Malfoy for Lewis, Peeves and Voldemort for the twins. One of their favorite memories while making movie number five was being with their friends (the other stars), although Lewis admitted to particularly enjoying the Mission Impossible-type fall in the Ministry of Magic scene.
But their shared mission, they all agreed, is to portray the characters the way the fans expect—true to the books. They’ve read all seven, of course, and have researched their alternate egos. Matthew Lewis, for example, recalled carefully biting his tongue during a scene where Neville concentrates, just as he does in the book.
“The reason you make a film,” Lewis says, “is for the fans.” James identifies so closely with Fred that he even mumbles Fred’s lines aloud while reading the books.
When J. K. Rowling visited the set of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, she told Lewis she was really enjoying the films and that Neville had a “bit to do” in book seven. He didn’t want to know more. Like their fans, the twins and Lewis were eager to read the last book and worried about spoilers. Unfortunately, soon after the book came out, a fan came up to Lewis and told him what happened in the last chapter. The twins claimed they were luckier, being in Japan at the time and unable to understand the language.
All three stars seemed pleased and amazed to be so popular halfway around the world from their home. When asked what they’ll do when the series is over, they said they’ll always be able to look back and know they were a part of it. Share their experiences at the next “Meet the Stars of Harry Potter” panel, Sun 10AM Regency 6-7.