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Tom Felton is first of Harry Potter stars to bag a blockbuster role

With the Harry Potter valedictory lap, replete with fans declaring their childhood officially over and photo-montages tracking its junior cast from pre-teen to young adults, finally over, people may be surprised that the franchise's first youngster onto their next blockbuster role, isn't Harry, Hermoine or Ron, but their scheming nemesis Draco Malfoy, aka actor Tom Felton, with his lead role in new prequel Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

"They moved the Apes release date forward," says the hugely personable 23-year-old amid a whirlwind three weeks publicising both movies, "which means it's considered a good enough movie to take on Harry Potter, so to be included in both is very cool."

Unlike many fans – or indeed some cast members – Felton seems liberated rather than traumatised by Potter's finale. "It seems like the first time ever that I've been free really, and able to do what I want to do," he says happily. "I'm definitely more excited than terrified." And with two further films already in the can and several more auditions to come, it's clear why.

Not that Apes is a departure from his Potter villainy, Felton playing another "nasty piece of work", though he's unfazed by notions of typecasting. "I embrace it actually and would happily play villains for a long time. I'm a huge fan of Ralph Fiennes and Alan Rickman and those guys have made great careers playing bad guys. If I could have half their career..."

'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II' and 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes' are in cinemas nationwide