For eight movies, the late Alan Rickman played the role of the odious potions master Severus Snape in the Harry Potter movies. Cruel, vindictive, and petty, Snape often made Harry’s classmate Neville Longbottom, played by Matthew Lewis, the object of his bullying. But in real life, the relationship between the two was very different. In an interview with Michael Rosenbaum, Lewis recalled how deeply he respected Rickman, and a memorable encounter he had with the late actor on his last day of filming.
“On [Rickman’s] last day, I went to his trailer… And I just said to him, ‘Hey, I know it’s your last day, and I just wanted to say this has been incredible, to have worked with you for this long. I know that we’ve not really spoken very much, but I just wanted to say it was because I was terrified, but you were incredible. I just want to say thank you for allowing me to work with you for 10 years and not ever shout at me or treating any of us as anything less than your equal. And he was like, ‘Come on in.’ And he put the kettle on, and we had a cup of tea and we chatted about what I was going to do in my career moving forward and what he recommended I do.”
It is interesting to consider the sharp divergence in the manner in which Snape bullied and belittled Neville Longbottom, compared to how encouraging Rickman was to Lewis when the cameras weren’t rolling. Rickman’s words of encouragement clearly meant a great deal to Lewis, as Harry Potter was close to ending, and the young actor was set to try to reinvent his career as a young actor after playing such a well-known role in his childhood.
Since leaving Neville behind, Matthew Lewis has appeared in a number of well-received projects. But such is the overwhelming popularity of Harry Potter that for many fans, Lewis will also be anxious, round-faced little Neville. The actor admitted that it can be frustrating sometimes to have audiences ignore his career trajectory and the impressive resume he has built up since Harry Potter.
“I still to a degree get a bit frustrated sometimes when people sort of say, ‘Oh, he’s’ — for example I’m doing this show at the minute; it’s on PBS, and like a lot of the headlines are, ‘He’s no longer Neville Longbottom anymore.’ It’s like, ‘I haven’t been that for 10 years.’ And I have done things that have been so wildly different. Like, I’ve been in dramas that have won BAFTAs and done all of this kind of stuff.”
“And I’m not bragging; it’s just like I’ve done all this stuff and like 10 years later it’s still like people are making the claim I’ve sort of jumped from Harry Potter into this and have completely ignored the journey it’s taken to get there. That can be frustrating–not that I’m frustrated with anything to do with Harry Potter — but it’s like you have that voice in your head that goes, ‘Hey you know all that work you did for the past 10 years, No one f****** saw it. No one cares.’ They still think this is the first job you’ve done since Harry Potter.”
Hopefully, Lewis will soon find a role that establishes him definitively as a seasoned adult actor in front of audiences so they can finally stop seeing him only as Neville Longbottom.