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Tom Felton

Harry Potter Grad Walks and Talks His Villainous Ways

by Brad Balfour


Copyright ©2011 PopEntertainment.com.  All rights reserved.  Posted: August 16, 2011. 


British actor Tom Felton may not have expected to perfect his villainous chops, but nonetheless, after nearly a decade in the Harry Potter inner circle, he has done so excellently. Now that the fantasy franchise has ended – with the 8th and final installment Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 having come out mid-July 2011 – the 23-year-old faces an uncertain future. He has to ask, should he continue being cast as a villain in blockbusters or go the softer, less financially secure indie route?

Well so far, Felton has taken the safer, bad-guy route, playing the nasty animal keeper in this year's science-fiction film reboot of the Planet of the Apes series, Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Felton portrays a human character, Dodge Landon, who is more beastly than the genetically enhanced chimpanzee Caesar who is imprisoned in Landon's father's ape "refuge."

Born 22 September 1987 in Kensington, London, Thomas Andrew "Tom" Felton is best known for playing the role of Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter film series, the movie adaptations of the best-selling Harry Potter fantasy novels by author J.K. Rowling.

By the time he had auditioned for the mega-blockbuster at 12, the English actor and musician had been in commercials since he was eight and in films since 10, appearing in The Borrowers and Anna and the King. After being cast as Malfoy he subsequently was in all eight Potter films, from 2001 to 2011. A fishing aficionado, he helped form the World Junior Carp Tournament, a "family-friendly" fishing tournament.

Felton's portrayal of Malfoy in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 won him the MTV Movie Award for Best Villain in 2010 and 2011.

In late 2010, Felton played the main character, Ray Marsden in the movie, White Other. Ray is a troubled youth in the "ends" of England and Imelda Staunton, who played Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1, also appears as one of the other main roles in the film.

Felton had a cameo role as himself in Get Him to the Greek, released on 4 June 2010. In February 2010, he was cast in the thriller, The Apparition.

At the May 2011 Big Apple Wizard Con in Manhattan, Felton did an hour-long Q&A session with fans and friends – including myself. This Q&A is drawn from that afternoon's event.

What is your favorite thing about portraying Draco's character?

I feel very lucky, actually. Draco is the complete polar opposite, so any opportunity for an actor to play someone as far opposite of you as possible is always fun. The rest of the 12 kids or whatever it is that signed when we were 11 years old, a lot of them were very similar to their characters, and one of the best things that I had to do is to play the complete opposite. I hope you believe me when I say I'm actually a half decent guy in real life.

Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy in HARRY POTTER AND THE DEADLY HOLLOWS - PART 2.When we see Draco, we see a very conflicted character.

Very much so. I remember I was quizzing J.K. [Rowling] after the sixth film saying "What’s going on here?" Don’t build me up to be this evil guy and then flip it in the last few films. Where are we going in the last few films? I think one of the nicest things she did was she left it to interpretation. She never actually specified whether he was consciously thinking about helping the good side or whether it was just inner turmoil. I think – especially [in the previous] film – we really see him at his peak of confliction, where we see him sort of save Harry’s life. In this film, he tries to kill Harry and then Harry saves him. So he really doesn’t know where his loyalties lie. There’s a fantastic bit at the very end when you have the whole evil side and the whole good side. And Voldemort basically has to say "Come to the good side or they’ll kill you," and Draco is the only one. He doesn’t want to do it, but his parents pull him over.

How closely related to the book is the seventh movie?

It's quite hard for me to say because I haven't seen the full film yet. But we shot everything. A lot of people say "Oh, the reason they wanted to split it into two movies was financially." I promise you, it was that or a six-hour film, and a lot of nine-year-olds can't sit through a six-hour film. As far as I know, the reason we did it is so we could stick to the book exactly, and as far as I'm aware, there have been absolutely no compromises of this. However, I do know that the epilogue scene – the 19 years later – they shot it, they reshot it, and they’ve got loads of great stuff there.

Which Harry Potter film was your favorite to shoot and why?

It gets better as years have gone on. The first one was obviously a lot of fun because we had no idea what we were doing. The sixth film was the one I really enjoyed because it's the only film that I'm there from the start to the finish and saw the whole thing being made, and also got a chance to work with some of my heroes in one-on-one scenes. To work with Alan Rickman one-on-one was terrifying. It really was, actually. He's a very daunting man, to say the least, with a very sexy voice, of course. So yeah, that was the film I really look back [on] with the fondest memories.

How was it filming with Ralph Fiennes?

Terrifying. No, literally. It took me six years to get "Good morning" out of me. I was just like "Hi," and I'd just walk on. He's in full makeup, so it's pretty terrifying. It's one thing to see him as Voldemort – pretty terrifying, obviously. But it's actually even scarier when he's sitting there on his chair having a cup of tea, reading the morning paper. It's like, oh my god, there's Voldemort and he's reading the Daily Times. And he has a very specific tea blend that he likes. He wears really nice socks. Voldemort rocks nice socks. But actually he's a charming, lovely, hilarious guy. When I saw him at an event as Ralph, I sort of latched onto him because it was nice to see him as a human.

What is the funniest line flub you've ever done while filming?

On the second or third film, when I was still quite young, there was a line that's supposed to be the end of the film, and for some reason I couldn't say it. I don't know what it was, but my mouth just stuttered. I used to have a bit of a bad stutter, actually, as a kid. I was very young, and I actually started crying because I couldn't get this right. I was really upset. The director came up to me and said "Tom, we got it, we got it. It's in the can. Don't worry about it," and I was like "Brilliant. Thank God, thank God." They cut that out of the film, it's not in it. It's not even in the deleted scenes. It's just been banished off the face of the Earth. That was the line that taught me: get it right or they're just going to cut you out.

Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy in HARRY POTTER AND THE DEADLY HOLLOWS - PART 2.If you had a chance to portray another character from Harry Potter who would it be?

I personally thought I would have made a great Hermione. They thought otherwise. It's very hard for me to say, to be honest with you. I'm very much impregnated with Draco's DNA; it's hard for me to see it as anyone else. I'm hoping they're going to remake them in 20 years and I get to play Lucius.

How would you have felt if you got cast as Harry and not Draco?

I went for half a dozen auditions for Harry. They dyed my hair slightly dark brown, gave me the scar, the glasses, everything. Luckily, Daniel smashed me to the post. And actually I dyed my hair ginger straight afterwards for Ron – three auditions as Ron. Finally, they bleached my hair blond and that stuck for 10 years. I'm very grateful. There is no question that no one could have played Harry as well as Daniel – or the whole cast really. So I'm very grateful.

Do you think Draco could have been secretly in love with Hermione? And if you don't think so, is there someone else he would have been secretly in love with?

I think he was way too busy with the tasks at hand. Actually, it kind of sucked how Draco didn't get a decent girlfriend. I guess he's in love with himself. I can't see the Hermione thing, unless Hermione punching Draco in the face was another way of saying ‛I love you‛.

How do you think the Harry Potter series would have been if Harry was your friend? If he didn't turn you down in the first movie?

God knows. I don't know. It would have been a very different book, no doubt. I don't think Draco would have lasted so long as a character if he was Harry's friend. I guess Harry would have been evil. I have no idea. I haven't even thought about that one. You've just opened a whole can of worms. I might start rewriting.

What do you think Draco's reaction would be in the first movie if the hat had suddenly said "Gryffindor" instead of "Slytherin"?

He probably would have lobbed the hat on the floor and stamped on it. I'm not sure.

I actually did a similar thing when I was at the Harry Potter exhibition in Los Angeles. They have a hat and they have the voices. And I put it on my head, and then for some reason one of the guys that works there ran over and ripped it off my head. He said "If it had said 'Gryffindor' it would have been the worst thing in the world." I was kind of bummed about that. Anyway, the next day I tried it on; it said "Slytherin." So that kind of still sticks with me. Did you see how quickly the hat called it? It didn't get in my head, I swear.

If you had a broken wand and could only cast three spells what would they be?

Oh no, I've got to remember three spells now. The classic one [is one] of my personal favorites. The first one I ever learned, Wingardim Leviosa. I was about to say Avada Kadavra, but I suppose I better not say that one. Maybe I should, that's very Draco, actually. There are quite a lot of those flying around in the last film, so look out for that.

Do you guys keep any of your wardrobe or props from the Harry Potter movies?

Officially, no. Unofficially, yeah. Only a small amount of things. I was very keen on getting a nimbus and a wand and a cloak. I did get Draco's tie pin and his silver Slytherin ring. It even has the [tape] around it because my fingers were too small to fit normal sized rings when I was about 12. They've moved most of them to the exhibition here, I think in Times Square. And there's one in LA as well – they've got a bunch of costumes. And in hindsight, it's probably better there than it is in my attic or in my downstairs loo or something like that.

Jason Isaacs and Tom Felton in HARRY POTTER AND THE DEADLY HOLLOWS - PART 2.A lot of people love dressing up in the costumes and they see Draco as a kind of role model. How does that make you feel seeing people dressed up like you?

For some reason, it always seems to be girls. I don't think I've ever had a bloke dressed as me. I'm always a bit worried, actually, when parents come up to me with exceptionally young children and they say "Draco's her favorite character." I always think: I'm not supposed to be, I don't think. I'm pretty sure Harry's the good one. I'm the guy they shouldn't root for. So yeah, it's always a bit mysterious when people do latch onto Draco. I guess it's a rebellious thing, or maybe they see the inner conflict and feel quite sorry for him. I'm not sure. But it's cool, I enjoy it. It's always fun.

Would you ever consider going to Harry Potter conventions?

Sure. I've never done a convention in New York. But I've done a handful of them across the world, and a big thing for me is actually getting a chance to come and say thank you to you guys. Everyone thinks that we started off on the first one with eight films in mind. That was definitely not the case; it was specifically to do one. And it was only thanks to [the passion and enthusiasm of] everyone across the world that we ended up doing it for 11 years. I'm personally very grateful, and I know I speak for the rest of the cast when I say thanks for your dedication and passion. Of course; any opportunity to say thank you is always welcome.

Have you seen A Very Potter Musical?

I’ve only done a handful of these conventions. But every one I go to, there are at least two or three people that ask me this question, and every time I shamefully say I have not seen the whole thing. It’s three hours long. That’s quite a YouTube video, isn’t it? But I’ve heard fantastic things, and I also heard I was wrongly cast in that by someone far superior. I’d like to meet her because I hear she’s done a wonderful job.

What did you think about any fan fiction that deals with Draco and Hermione?

It’s kind of two sides of the coin here. One, I think anyone that’s felt inspired by reading Harry Potter enough to actually do their own literary work is fantastic. It’s one of the great things that have come from J.K. Rowling’s writing; she’s inspired so many kids. However, their topics are often a little strange, and I confess I have not really gone to great depths of reading fan fiction. A lot of them are very sexual. I don’t know what it is. And also there are alarming pictures that go with them, and let me stress, these pictures are not real. Daniel and I never spooned in bed. Or we never took pictures, anyway. My brother actually had that as his screen saver on his phone.

What did you think of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter?

That is something special. If you're even slightly a Harry Potter fan, it's pretty amazing and a very cool place to go. I warn you now; you're going to spend thousands in there. I bought everything with a Slytherin bag on it.

What would be your dream role, if you could play any person?

I’d like to say I don’t want to put any constraints, whatever comes my way, but I’m lying. James Bond. If not, I’ll happily settle for the villain. We’ll see.

If you could make your own film to star in, who would be your top co-star and top director?

I have a handful of actors and directors. But I had such a good time working with David Yates, who directed the last four films. He without question is the reason why I'm very passionate about filmmaking. To be honest with you, I was four or five films in, thinking I'm not sure whether I really want to do this. I thought it could be some other calling for me in life. But David pretty much singlehandedly made me realize how damn lucky I was and also how much money it is actually to make films. As far as co-stars, Daniel and I have always said we'd love to do a film where I'm the hero and he's the villain. I wanted to do music, I wanted to do agricultural work, I wanted to do fishing. All sorts. But evidently I realized that acting’s pretty cool.

Jason Isaacs and Tom Felton in HARRY POTTER AND THE DEADLY HOLLOWS - PART 2.You started acting very young. Did you always want to be an actor?

Very much so. My parents felt the complete opposite. They were the ones going "Look, I don’t want you going to a spaghetti commercial at the age of seven," but I was quite adamant on going. As soon as I got my first video camera, I start[ed] making my own two-hour monologues at the age of six. I used to watch a lot of theater because my brother is in theater. It was always something that seemed very natural and fun. I joined drama groups and I really, really enjoyed it. It was very different when we started doing adverts and commercials, and my first film – when I was seven, I think it was. Looking back, it’s a fantastic experience.

How did it feel to be in such a serious movie like Anna and the King and then go into movies like Harry Potter?

I was like 10 years old. It [was] four months in Malaysia. There was no one else out there who spoke English, really, other than the cast and crew, but it was very cool. And Malaysia is fantastic. The harsh part about it is that I really didn't have any idea who Jodie Foster was because my mom wouldn't let me watch Silence of the Lambs. So it's only actually since then that I realized, oh my God, Jodie Foster was my mom. It was an awesome time.

Do you think you’ll direct later on?

Yeah, I’d love to. I love the idea of directing one day. I’ve recently started writing. All aspects of filmmaking fascinate me: sound, stunts, whatever it may be. So I hope to be involved with it for the rest of my life.

Are you in a band or anything like that?

Not really. I take my guitar wherever I go and I love to jam out and write my own very simple songs.

Are there any graphic novels that you like?

Not really. I never really got too much into comics, not like Marvel comics. We have ones like "Beano." It‛s a comic book in England. It seems to be the trend, isn't it, where every single living comic book in the last 50 years is now turning into a six-film franchise or whatever. Which is great, it's fantastic.

Have you ever thought of doing voice acting? And if so, is there a specific character from a cartoon or an anime that you would like to play?

It's funny you say that, because I was just speaking to a guy about their remaking the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. In England, it was not called "ninja."

What was it called?

"Hero". It was the Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles, because for some reason in the '90s the word "ninja" was banned from TV. I went to Nickelodeon the other day and saw some of the stuff they're doing. It looks amazing. So yeah, I'd love to do some voice work, definitely.

Is there any advice you could give to someone in the business trying to make it?

A lot of people actually ask me how to do it or what’s the best advice. Something people often misconceive is just how much luck you need. There are thousands of actors out there who are way more talented, way better looking, way better at certain parts, and yet they never even get seen for a particular role for whatever reason. So a huge amount of luck is in there. Determination. You need to be turned away a thousand times before one person says "All right, I'll give you a shot." So really you're a bit of meat that walks into a room and they say "No." You have to walk out and hold your head up and say "All right, fine, I wasn't right for that part but I'm going to walk up to the next one," which takes a while. It's hard not to take it personally when someone says "You're great, you're great." No, you're not. "We don't want you for the part." It does take a while to get used to that. I've always said just do it because you love to do it. A lot of youngsters say "I want to be famous." Being an actor is not the best way to go about it. It's much easier to become one of those reality show stars. That's much quicker; you don't have to do anything. Just get drunk on TV.

Do you watch any TV? What are some of your favorite shows?

Breaking Bad. Bryan Cranston – I love him.

You were in Get Him to the Greek, for like five minutes. Were you called for that or did you just show up or what?

Naturally, we had lots of visitors on the Harry Potter set every day from kids. I think Obama's family came down for a day, which was weird. There were like 160 security guards running around militant style, which is fun. Jonah Hill came down one day and as soon as I heard that, I kind of latched onto his tour. I clung onto him for about two hours, because I was a massive fan of Superbad. And then he gave me a call the next day and said "Do you want to be in the last day of the movie?" And I genuinely thought he was joking, and he wasn't. I came on the set; they did no rehearsals, no script. They just said, "Walk in and he's going to say some stuff to you." It was fun.

What's your favorite film quote?

My favorite film for quotes – rather than picking an individual quote out from it – is Snatch. It's a Guy Ritchie film, [with] Brad Pitt. Anything that Brad Pitt says in that whole film has me in stitches.

Did you receive an invitation to the Royal wedding?

I actually landed in Chicago three weeks ago and drove from Chicago to San Francisco in an RV. Love it. And then we drove down the coast and we just got to New York last night. I was saying I sacrificed my ticket to come over to America to do the road trip, and they were like "Oh my God, that's brilliant, man. We love that." Of course it's not true. I didn't get invited. My girlfriend would not have let me go. I did stay up until five in the morning in Chicago to watch it, so we're very proud of our new princess.

Tom Felton in RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES.What are your plans after Harry Potter?

We finished shooting The Deathly Hallows maybe a year ago now. I've been lucky enough to continue with acting. I have a handful of films that will be coming out this year. Rise of the Planet of the Apes comes out in August. I saw a trailer for that a couple of weeks ago; it looks really awesome. And there's a film coming out next year called The Apparition with Ashley Greene.

Would you ever consider going on Broadway?

Yeah, I'd love to. Has anyone seen Daniel? I've heard nothing but rave reviews. It's actually kind of weird, because when we were shooting the last Deathly Hallows, occasionally Daniel would get up out of the makeup chair and bust out a few moves. I hear he's tearing up Broadway and bringing thousands of excited kids to see him, which is fantastic. Unfortunately, I'm not going to get the chance to see him [this time]. But I am back for the New York premiere [of Deathly Hallows 2], so I'll make sure I go see him.

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Copyright ©2011 PopEntertainment.com.  All rights reserved.  Posted: August 16, 2011.  

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Copyright ©2011 PopEntertainment.com.  All rights reserved.  Posted: August 16, 2011.