Matthew Lewis Can’t Believe He’s a Romantic Lead, Either

Matthew Lewis’s face is in all places.

On the wall to his proper, grinning on a poster for the 2012 West Finish revival of “Our Boys,” a play by Jonathan Lewis. Within the alcove behind him, arms crossed and stony-faced in a bunch shot for “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.” And in entrance of his laptop computer digicam, eyes widening beneath his grey flat cap and darkish brown hair as he explains the seemingly self-promoting background.

“It’s not my home!” the 31-year-old actor stated. He and his spouse have been paying a Christmas Eve go to to his mother and father in Leeds, the Yorkshire metropolis 200 miles north of London the place he was born, he defined (after quarantining for 5 days and testing adverse for the coronavirus). However he’d neglected the truth that their residence’s research is, nicely, a shrine to him.

“They’re very proud,” he stated, as if wishing for nothing greater than an Invisibility Cloak.

However bashfulness is now not essential for the person who for a decade performed the fumbling, stammering Neville Longbottom within the Harry Potter movies. Final 12 months, he’d hung out within the close by Yorkshire Dales, not removed from Leeds, filming his function as Hugh Hulton, a rich landowner and rival suitor to the veterinarian James Herriot (Nicholas Ralph) for the affections of a farmer’s daughter, Helen Alderson (Rachel Shenton) within the reboot of “All Creatures Nice and Small,” the “Masterpiece” collection that started airing Sunday nights on PBS this month.

The seven-episode collection, which relies on James Alfred Wight’s beloved books impressed by his adventures as a younger veterinarian in Thirties Yorkshire, was a surprise hit when it premiered in Britain this fall. Celebrated as an emotional balm for pandemic-weary viewers, it grew to become Channel 5’s highest-rated present since 2016, and has been renewed for a second season.

For followers who have been used to Lewis because the clumsy Longbottom, his entrance on the finish of the second episode comes as a shock.

A decade faraway from the final Potter movie — he now not appears like Draco Malfoy’s awkward, chubby-cheeked punching bag — his profession has been shifting away from that kind of character for some time.

“It wasn’t essentially a acutely aware choice,” he stated. “I’ve simply been fortunate that these are the roles I used to be provided.”

His first post-Potter function was as Jamie Bradley, a 22-year-old retail employee who dabbled in medicine and crime however tried to show his life round, within the BBC drama “The Syndicate” in 2012, adopted by a self-centered health fanatic in “Me Earlier than You” in 2016 and a single dad below home arrest in “Girlfriends” in 2018.

Offscreen, he shot a shirtless cowl for Angle journal’s swimwear concern in 2015 that left J.Ok. Rowling scolding him on Twitter: “warn me subsequent time, for God’s sake” (in equity, he didn’t give his mom a heads-up both, he stated.)

“There was very intense stress coming off of ‘Harry Potter,’” he stated. “I didn’t wish to be generally known as a one-trick pony.”

Lewis is the most recent Potter actor to seek out success on tv not too long ago. Harry Melling, who performed Harry’s tormentor Dudley Dursley, shocked followers when he cropped up as a slim, dapper chess champ in “The Queen’s Gambit” on Netflix. Rupert Grint performs one of many 4 leads on the Apple TV+ collection “Servant,” an M. Evening Shyamalan psychological thriller. Daniel Radcliffe, Harry Potter himself, is an govt producer and star of the TBS comedy “Miracle Staff.”

(Different Potter alumni, like Emma Watson, finest generally known as Hermione Granger, and Robert Pattinson, who performed the golden boy Cedric Diggory, have gone on to grow to be bona fide film stars.)

However Lewis continues to be coming to phrases with being a number one man — God forbid, an attractive one. Which is why, when the chance got here to audition for “All Creatures Nice and Small,” Lewis hesitated.

“The unique collection is a little bit of an establishment in Yorkshire, and my dad actually wished me to do it,” he stated. “However this man is meant to be very darkish and good-looking, and it must be plausible that Helen’s in love with him. I used to be like, ‘I don’t learn about this. After I shave, everybody will see I appear to be I’m about 12.’”

Even after he received the half, he nonetheless didn’t suppose he was within the clear. “I used to be dreading turning up the primary day on set,” he stated. “I used to be certain they’d be like, ‘That is what he really appears like? Jesus, we have to recast this man.’”

However the collection director, Brian Percival, who directed a number of episodes of the Emmy-winning drama “Downton Abbey,” was nicely conscious of Lewis’s earlier work on Potter movies — and felt certain he had the expertise and confidence — no to say the Yorkshire accent — wanted to drag off the a part of Hugh.

“I prefer to forged actors who can relate in some actual and tangible strategy to the characters they’re enjoying,” he stated. “Hugh must have an air of pure confidence that’s born of privilege, and Matthew achieved that extremely nicely.”

Lewis stated he struggles with roles which can be too just like his personal life. “I discover it fairly tough when an excessive amount of of me begins to come back by in a personality,” he stated. “It’s simpler after I can play somebody fully totally different, like a police officer in London or somebody who’s rich.”

Which is why he finds it tough to rewatch the Harry Potter movies.

“At occasions it’s painful how a lot of me there may be in Neville,” he stated. “After I’m watching, I’m like, ‘That’s not Neville; that’s you.’”

David Yates, who directed the ultimate 4 Potter movies, stated Lewis took on a better function in shaping his character within the later movies. “Matthew was very a lot a supporting participant after I arrived to direct ‘Order of the Phoenix,’” he stated. “However he grew to become extra assured, extra curious, extra current because the movies progressed. And extra formidable.”

Yates stored pondering of the way to develop Lewis’s function in scenes, in the end constructing a sequence round him in “Deathly Hallows: Half 2” wherein Neville blows up a bridge to Hogwarts to thwart the darkish wizard Voldemort’s military — a scene that didn’t exist in both the ebook or in early drafts of Steve Kloves’s screenplay. “But it surely captured the charms of Neville and Matthew’s everyman high quality,” Yates stated. “He had a modesty and an honesty that was laborious to disregard.”

Lewis not too long ago scored a lead function in Curtis Vowell’s upcoming New Zealand comedy “Child Finished,” as a soon-to-be father who will strive something, from medicine to a threesome, to assuage his adventurous girlfriend’s despair on the prospect of motherhood.

However regardless of Lewis’s surging heartthrob standing, his older brother Anthony stated he was nonetheless an enormous nerd. He plans pub quizzes for household on all the vacations, together with one for that night. “He’s fiercely aggressive,” Anthony Lewis stated, “to the purpose of being obsessive. It may be fairly intense and is extremely annoying.”

But when ‘former Harry Potter actor’ is the label that follows him for the remainder of his profession, nicely, Lewis stated, that might be OK with him.

“If there’s one thing folks bear in mind you by, there are worse issues than the Harry Potter franchise,” he stated. “It opened so many doorways for me after I in any other case wouldn’t even have gotten within the room.”

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