Matt Lewis and Bonnie Wright joined moderator Tony Henderson to share memories of their Harry Potter days during “An Hour with Neville Longbottom & Ginny Weasley” on Friday at 1PM in the Marriott Atrium Ballroom. Lewis and Wright enthusiastically answered questions from the audience, ranging from how they would leave a voicemail for a fan (Wright would use Parseltongue and proceeded to say the phrase to open the chamber of secrets) to which spell they’d like to be able to use in real life (Lewis would use Alohomora because he loves the sound of the word and he’s always losing his keys).
Lewis is currently cast as James Harriot’s rival, Hugh Hulton, in the 2020 television adaptation of All Creatures Great and Small on PBS. He’s also been playing Hades and has become quite close to his PlayStation ever since he broke his leg five weeks ago. Wright is a film producer and director, having started her own production company, BonBonLumiere, in 2012. She is also an advocate for environmental for causes such as sustainable forest management and reduction of plastics pollution and is an ambassador for Lumos, J. K. Rowling’s charity for children. On top of all that, she’s attending her first Dragon Con. Welcome!
When asked about crazy things that happened on set, Lewis recalled his sudden growth spurt while filming of The Chamber of Secrets. When they crew noticed how different he looked during the herbology lesson, they pulled him aside and stuffed his cheeks first with cotton wool and then with makeup sponges. “That’s why I fainted,” he said with a laugh. They talked about some scenes that never made it into the final cut, including a bit with Peeves that they loved. Unfortunately, they couldn’t stop laughing during the filming, which may have made the scene unusable.
Fans got some insight from Wright on why Harry ended up with Ginny instead of Cho. She said the movies seemed to make the jump quickly, but she thinks it was a case of “a slow burn, passion over time” and Harry just needed to “get some things out of his system” before realizing that Ginny was the one for him. She also spoke of a darker side to Ginny. Remember the writing in blood on the walls during Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets? They filmed a scene where Ginny killed a chicken to get that blood, but it didn’t make the final cut. Perhaps it was a little too dark. If Wright had to choose a different role, though, she thinks it might be fun to play a bad character like Bellatrix.
Lewis agreed that playing a villainous character is an interesting change. Most of his parts since Neville have been baddies. His current role as Hugh Hulton has been challenging because Hulton is like Neville in some ways but the exact opposite in others. Hulton is a good guy and tries to do what he thinks is right, but he’s outgoing, aristocratic, well-spoken, and always confident in every situation. He even holds himself differently, straight up and shoulders back, not slumped and withdrawn like Neville. The second season of All Creatures Great and Small airs in two weeks.
Wright and Lewis described being part of the Harry Potter cast as a wonderful and amazing experience. Lewis was thrilled that Neville had a satisfying character arc and was able to make a difference in the end. Wright loved the final scene on platform 9 3⁄4, where the entire series comes full circle. Both described the cast and crew as the nicest, most accommodating people. The adults took the children under their wings and never lost their tempers or patience, even though it must have been trying at times to work with such a large group of kids. Wright fondly recalled being part of the loving Weasley family and how Julie Walters, who played Molly Weasley, helped her feel comfortable on the set.
Lewis mentioned a special experience he had with Alan Rickman after filming the last movie. When he went to Rickman’s trailer to say a quick goodbye, Rickman invited him in for tea, asked him about his plans for the future, and gave him some advice and encouragement that Lewis credits as making an incredible difference.
Thinking back on her experience, Wright wouldn’t change a thing, and Lewis agreed. They loved the thrill of the ride, not knowing how things would turn out or whether there would be a next movie after they signed on for the first two. At first, Lewis didn’t think they’d be able to do the books justice, so he was surprised every time they decided to film another one and ecstatic that they finished the entire series. Lewis and Wright met amazing people, and every movie brought new characters and actors who all fit in so well with everyone else. Lewis thanked the fans for being “the best fan base in the world” and for sticking with them all these years. It was easy to see that the experience will always have a special place in their hearts, just as Neville and Ginny will always have a special place in ours.