Harry Potter and the class of Hogwarts 2000

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

From Confundus charms to deathly decoys, Harry Potter's pals have helped him out of countless scrapes. Now the movie franchise is drawing to a close, we find out what they're planning next.

The greatest paradox in the Harry Potter books is that the flawed but charming teenager prophesied to slay the evil Lord Voldemort is repeatedly rescued from certain death by the timely intervention of his friends.

JK Rowling’s carefully drawn supporting cast of high school weirdos, gawky outsiders, dreamy loners and comedic double-acts are as crucial to the boy who lived’s continued existence as his best pals Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley.



The movie franchise, currently the highest grossing series of all time, is drawing to its conclusion with the release of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 next week and Part 2 next July. The series has thrust Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson into international stardom.



But while supporting characters like Luna Lovegood, the Weasley twins and hapless Neville Longbottom are given precious air time in films which seem to rush through the action-packed stories without catching a breath, the actors who play them are by no means household names.



Despite press attention which would suggest otherwise, it was not just only Radcliffe, Grint and Watson who grew from awkward adolescence into sleek adulthood before our very eyes in ten years of filming. The vast supporting cast did too.



Staunch Potter fans can debate endlessly the merits or demerits of a franchise that has been handled by Christopher Columbus, Alfonso Cuaron, Mike Newell and latterly David Yates. But I think its fair to say that, like Potter, the films have been frequently rescued from a linear or overly serious trajectory by the timely intervention of a funny one-liner from the supporting cast.



Identical twins James and Oliver Phelps, who play Ron Weasley’s trickster elder brothers Fred and George, were some of the oldest, at 14, to be granted admission to the wonderful world of Hogwarts when they were cast in 2000.



“Our mum asked us if we wanted to audition,” Oliver told independent.co.uk. “We weighed it up: a day off school and a chance to get in a film? Yup, we can do that. And it all went from there really.”



The Birmingham-born pair’s irreverent attitude, practical jokes and wizarding wheezes have provided much needed light relief from an increasingly dark tale.



Practically indistinguishable in real life, the pair has naturally mousy brown hair which they had to dye the signature Weasley ginger. “It’s a bit sad when you can’t do certain things because you’ve got to get your roots touched up,” James says. “But we’ve certainly learned the right colour mixtures to go for,” Oliver adds.



Their natural humour and teasing banter lends James and Oliver a very Weasley-ish whiff when I meet them out of wizard robes in a London hotel. They tell me that the capacious Weasley family, all with red hair, became a bit like a real family during the extensive filming.



“When we’re all together it’s like a big ginger fun zone,” James says. “Julie Walters (Molly Weasley) and Mark Williams (Arthur Weasley) are just so funny. We once did a whole rehearsal in broad Brummie. The Americans on set didn’t have a clue what we were on about.”



Another figure in the book with quintessentially English characteristics is Neville Longbottom. Matt Lewis, 21, from Leeds, was cast to play him ten years ago. Herbology-loving Neville is supposed to be rather chubby and ungainly looking - something which, as Lewis grew increasingly tall, slim and handsome, had to be rectified with fake ears, teeth, overlarge shoes and baggy robes.



Out of costume Lewis is virtually unrecognisable. “I’m pretty lucky that I don’t look much like Neville,” he explains. “It meant I’ve been able to do all the fun stuff like stay in nice hotels when promoting the movies. But then I can go back home to Leeds and go shopping for bread and milk and not get mobbed.”



Neville is a striking character in Rowling’s books because the tragic torture of his parents by Voldemort's followers, leaving them in an insane asylum and Neville in the care of his batty grandmother, in some way mirrors the death of the Potters, which left Harry in the care of the terrible Dursleys. Neville and Harry are linked by a prophecy which could refer to either of them, something which was rather skipped over in the sixth film, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.



“In the film there wasn’t really time to put in all the prophecy stuff,” he said. “But I found it interesting that Neville could have been very much like Harry, except that he wasn’t under such pressure. My character didn’t have to mature until the seventh book when Harry leaves Hogwarts. It’s almost because Harry is absent that Neville can form a sort of French resistance to the Death Eaters and really find his strength.”



That Neville could have been rather like Harry but isn’t under nearly the same sort of pressure is a situation which exactly mirrors Lewis and Radcliffe in their careers. Lewis admires Radcliffe in his international stardom – “He’s just the nicest guy you could ever meet” – but his relief that he can maintain anonymity in Leeds is palpable.



Although it is not yet known how Neville’s part in the Hogwarts-based resistance against Voldemort is going to play out in the two final films, from the books it is clear that the battle against the Death Eaters and the elimination of the Horcruxes could not have been won without him. His transition from bumbling geek to heroic figure is something that Lewis takes in his stride.



“David [Yates] and I talked about his defining moment during the Battle of Hogwarts,” he says. “Neville is very adrenalised (sic). He’s just running in head first and putting his life on the line. But as the death toll mounts, there are a couple of scenes where he starts to look really tired and realisation hits that the battle is almost lost.”



Another key figure in the continuation of Dumbledore’s Army, a band of student resistance fighters, something like the Order of the Phoenix, which Harry establishes in the fifth book and Neville takes over in his absence, is the dreamy Luna Lovegood, whose name is often teasingly prefixed with ‘loony.’



Evanna Lynch, 19, from Leinster, Ireland, who plays Luna, is one of the finest examples of casting in the entire franchise. With her huge eyes, wonderfully guileless approach and charm it is easy to see why producer David Heyman picked her out of 15,000 other Luna-wannabes. “The others could play Luna; Evanna Lynch is Luna,” he said at the time.



“I’m not Luna, although a lot of people think I am,” Lynch says. “When I was younger I used to be a little more like her. I’m like her in that I don’t like to judge people and I keep an open mind. She’s so free spirited, she wouldn’t judge someone by their clothes or demeanour and I like that way of looking at life.”



Lynch went along to the audition as a "professional Luna fan" and made her first appearance in the fifth Harry Potter film. She seems to have had a lot of fun with the character and tells me she particularly enjoys wearing Luna’s oversized cork hat and radish earrings.



Xenophilius Lovegood, Luna’s father, makes his debut in Hallows - Part 1. After huge deliberation Rhys Ifans was cast to play him. “They were casting my dad for ages and then someone said Rhys. I was like, ‘Oh my god this is perfect,’ why did no-one think of this before?”



Lynch tells me that all her friends really fancy Ifans: “It’s because of Notting Hill and his grey underwear,” she explains grinning. “Ifans was great to work with. Just nice, you know. We had fun. And he was totally up for the Lovegood dance. He had no reservations.”



The billboards advertising the final Harry Potter films are emblazoned with the words “It all ends here...” The Phelps twins, Lewis and Lynch all express their deep sadness that after a decade of attending wizard school they’re being booted out into the real world. But it also sounds like a bit of a relief.



“There are two sides to it,” Lynch explains. “On the one hand I love it and don’t want it to end. But then again you’re tied to it. It’s a contract. Yeah you can try and do other things at the same time, but Harry Potter has to come first.”



The four actors have all expressed a desire to stay in the film business. Lewis has been acting since he was five years old (“It’s all I know”), the Phelps twins would like to try a Bond film (“I’d be the evil twin,” Oliver says. “Just like real life,” James adds) and Lynch says she’d happily drop her studies for another year for the right role.



Unlike Watson, Radcliffe and Grint the supporting cast in the Harry Potter films will largely evade the acting pitfall of being indeterminate from a character in the consciousness of your audience.

For many, Luna, Fred and George and Neville, the rest of the Weasleys, the Malfoys, the Creevys and other ubiquitous Rowling charcters will bear the faces of the actors who played them in the film. But those faces will go on to represent many diverse characters and it will be interesting to see where the class of Hogwarts 2000 ends up in another ten years.

Let's just hope that this lot, who all scored an impressive O grade in Charms, don't forget what they've learned.

Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams plays 'bad ass' Arya Stark in Game of Thrones

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Arts and Entertainment
Rob James-Collier, who plays under-butler Thomas Barrow, admitted to suffering sleepless nights over the Series 5 script

TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week