Get Ready for A Celebration of Harry Potter with an Exclusive Evanna Lynch Interview
I’m a pretty big Harry Potter fan, and one of my favorite characters in the Harry Potter films is Luna Lovegood, played by Evanna Lynch. I’m so excited that she’ll be coming to A Celebration of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort this weekend, January 30-February 1.
Before making her way here, we’ve asked her a few questions, including ones submitted by fans on our Facebook page.
What are you most excited about for this year’s A Celebration of Harry Potter?
I can’t wait to do some wand moves with Paul Harris again. One of my favourite memories of the fifth film was being coached to learn how to properly use a wand during Paul’s classes. The world and the film experience was all very new to me back then, and I remember seeing ‘Wand choreography for Evanna Lynch’ on the callsheet one day and thinking it all completely surreal and dreamlike.
Suddenly, I was pulled out of tutoring in Maths and French to learn how to brandish a stick in a convincing witchlike way. And the steps were very much like ballet and jazz positions. I was good at dancing, and I remember Paul telling me I picked the steps up very quickly, that I was a natural, which I took to mean I would have been a handy Charms student at Hogwarts, which I LOVED. So I’m looking forward to revisiting those moves and checking have I still got it.
What are some of your favorite memories of the opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley this past summer?The evening of the official opening of the park with the other cast members was brilliant and unforgettable because of the crowd of wizards and witches Universal had assembled to populate Diagon Alley. It was an amazingly immersive wizarding world moment, and their commitment and characterisations really let me surrender into the belief that we were walking down the busiest wizarding high street.
On the movies, we were always part of those scenes, working off a script, helping to create the illusion for other people, so it felt amazing to be a muggle happening upon this weird and wonderful world. I tried to stop a few wizards to chat but they all had places to be, school supplies to buy, important missions to accomplish so we had to find our own way about as little lost muggles! Luckily, Diagon Alley is a very pleasant place to get lost in.
How do The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade at Universal Orlando compare to the movie sets?
The Wizarding World is so much better than the sets!! We never had complete sets, you see. While it’s whimsical and atmospheric for the shops to be extremely cramped and narrow in the Wizarding World, on set it was just completely impractical to fit entire film crews in, so it was rare that all four walls of a building would be standing.
Roofs were another luxury that we filmmakers did not get to enjoy, and that was all left to imagination and then CGI to fill in! We were always shown concept artwork and models of the sets we would be working on, but the dragons didn’t breathe fire and the brooms didn’t hover and the wands didn’t cast charms so, all in all, the sets of the Wizarding World are considerably more fantastical than the actual sets!
What is your favorite quote from the books or line from the movie scripts?
My favourite, favourite, favourite line in the books is in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows when Dumbledore says to Harry, “Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”
Reading that was an ‘ahhhh’ moment for me. Dumbledore perfectly expressed what magic is for me, the worldly kind of magic; Imagination. That ideas, images, scenarios can occur in our head, and we have the power to manifest those things in the physical dimension and share them with other people is incredible to me. Nobody but you can tell you that the things in your head are real or that they matter but if you keep telling yourself that, eventually they do. Dumbledore is my kind of philosopher.
Do you and your character Luna have anything in common? In what ways are you similar to her?
Yes, of course, plenty! I am open-minded like her, and I have an appreciation for things that are strange and otherworldly. I like weird beauty and I am most inspired by things and people that don’t really fit in and that make their own rules. Science, math, logic bore me, but art and drama seem unlimited and exciting to me, and I love to explore things that don’t have a binary resolution.
I also have that capacity to believe in things without logical evidence to back up their existence, and I have been known to spend too much money on probably phony psychics telling me cool things that may or may not happen to me…though I imagine Luna would not be so unwise as to led by that.
And like Luna I have a strong affinity with animals. I love their quiet, instinctual non-judgmental nature, and in a way, I find it easier to ‘be’ with animals than people. I love people but they often make me feel a pressure to be more impressive and engaging than I am. Pressure to perform. That all goes away with animals and I feel enormous kinship and companionship. They are weird and not ashamed of it and they are highly curious. And they are misunderstood and tormented for their differences, in much the same way Luna is so I feel a lot of compassion for them. I’ve never actually asked JKR, but I find it impossible to think that Luna is not a vegetarian.
On the other hand I am much more stubborn and insecure than Luna. More worldly, I suppose. I wish it weren’t that way, and I am always striving to be more Luna, but it’s tough in this world to not get caught up, attached, stressed or worried. I don’t have her peaceful, trusting, uber-chilled-out perspective on life. Me, I’ll just have to meditate more.
What is your favorite memory from filming?
I loved the scenes in the courtyard shooting the Battle of Hogwarts. Those days were incredible because it was the entire cast; almost all the wizarding characters from all the movies brought together in one scene. It felt monumental, historic, which it would have been for Harry & co. It was sad that it was coming to an end, but also amazing that it ended in this enormous climactic scene where all the characters came face to face at last.
And it was a lot of fun, too—the group scenes always were—because you didn’t feel the nerves and pressure of having a camera right up in your face, and you could enjoy the filming experience and watching the hilarious dynamics a set of British cinema’s most eccentric and notorious actors. I remember Mark Williams joked that it was “the most expensive set of extras” he’d ever seen, because essentially nobody was doing very much, but everyone had to be present. And when it was all over, everyone hugged and clapped and some cried (me) and it was just a very emotional and satisfyingly cathartic thing. I’ll probably never have an onset experience like that again.
What was the most difficult thing about filming the Harry Potter movies?
Convincing myself that I was worthy of that role and those experiences. I wasn’t very confident at 14 when I got the role. I had a lot of self esteem issues and often felt like I was inferior to everyone and had nothing valuable to contribute. And that feeling of being an imposter alienated me from the other cast members for the first few years. I just couldn’t believe they’d picked me to play that role among those people, and for the fifth, film I pretty much lived in a constant state of fear that they were going to somehow find me out, fire me and hire a real actress! And being identified by fans as the character that I had adored and looked up to for several years was overwhelming, I was sure I was a disappointment.
So, while I was living my dream and having the most wonderful experiences, I felt extremely uncomfortable at first. By the sixth film, I had gained some confidence and worked out some issues, and I was ready to stop wasting my life thinking I wasn’t good enough. I think that is most people’s struggle; that is what I’ve learned and observed, that most people feel like frauds or that they’re inadequate and have to cover up bits of themselves in order to be liked, but as a young girl that feeling was definitely compounded by the fact that I was working on something that had shaped my childhood and with people who’s faces were on my bedroom walls!
That said, I was working with the kindest most supportive group of people and the Davids (producers and director) and fellow cast bent over backwards to make me feel at home with them. I’m very grateful I had the opportunity to overcome those feelings because without the experience of Harry Potter, I might never have come out of myself or learned that I’m capable of doing anything. And now I’m able to pass on those lessons to other young people struggling to feel worthy and find themselves, and that’s been a rather cool successive role to play.
What was one special moment you had during the time you were portraying Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter Films that you will remember forever?
Gosh, there are too many unforgettable moments from those years. Meeting Jo for the first time, the readthrough, the radishes, the two hours in hair every morning, the hiding from my tutors and begging to go on set, sneaking off to the Gringotts set with Scarlett and then being scolded by the AD for it! Lots of crazy memories; I wish I’d kept a journal.
One really cool moment that stands out for me was seeing Rhys Ifans dressed as Xenophilius for the first time, it was amazing! I’d known he was cast as my dad, and I was so excited by it and couldn’t wait to meet him. But I hadn’t known he was in that day, and suddenly I saw him walking across the parking lot and he was dressed in these regal robes of the brightest yellow with fancy embroidered pictures on them and he had this fluffy yellowish white hair that sort of formed a wispy halo and there was this crazy moment where I forgot myself, the Evanna disappeared and when I saw him all I felt was “Dad!”
It was a “there you are, my other half!!” moment for Luna. She is so used to being the odd one out, being the brighter, stranger, weirder person in the room and of not fully relating to anyone. She doesn’t mind that and she simply enjoys being around and learning about people. But in that moment, seeing Rhys Ifans in costume, the Luna in me felt both great relief and joy to be reunited with another very colourful soul and that was lovely.
It was a very fleeting feeling before I remembered myself and pleasantries had to be exchanged, but I will always remember that moment.
If you belonged to a house in Hogwarts, which would it be and why?
I would be in Gryffindor because Pottermore told me so! I did the test as soon as Pottermore was launched, and I knew I was Gryffindor all along, though I was pleased to have it made Jo-official (“Jofficial”, how is that not yet a word…).
I admire the Ravenclaw qualities, and I definitely identify myself as a bookworm. But the Ravenclaws are too chill for me. I am a passionate person by nature, at times fiery and headstrong the way Gryffindors are. I tend to get caught up in my passions and lose perspective because when I love something (or someone), I really love it and I am moved by my gut feelings. To be honest, I don’t think I would ever have rocked up at the Luna auditions if I wasn’t a Gryffindor with a crazy dream, it was completely ridiculous and unlikely and fanciful to think I would succeed in getting the part. I think a Ravenclaw would have reasoned that statistically it wasn’t worth it, but the Gryffindor made me take a risk.
I’m often stupid, reckless and ruled by strong, illogical feelings, but I never make decisions based on fear and that makes me proud to be a Gryffindor. B-)
What is your favorite Luna costume or accessory?
The Lion Hat, obviously! That thing was fierce (literally)!
Do you keep in contact with the rest of the cast?
Of course! You don’t go through an experience like that and not form a close bond. It was completely unique as teenagers to be part of a major, beloved movies series, to have an acting career, to be dealing with media and public interest and only the people who you went through it with can truly understand what it was like. I hung out with Bonnie, Matt and Tom last week in Paris where we did a convention and it was the same as ever. And Scarlett Byrne, who is one of my best friends, lives in Los Angeles like me, so we see each other almost every week.
It’s a cliched phrase by this point, but we are a lot like a family; We don’t talk every week and we don’t all necessarily have lots in common, but we came together to make something awesome, something much bigger than us, and I think because of that experience, we have a mutual understanding and completely love and support each other on our various journeys. I keep an eye on what everyone is up to and attend their movies and plays and feel so proud and inspired watching what everyone has gone on to do. All the while nursing a secret hope that we will one day work together again on something else! Optimistic, I know…but you have to be.
Do you really have a cat named Dumbledore?
I did, but sadly he passed on, as cats have a habit of doing! And I had a Harry who was killed in a car accident. And then I had a Luna for a while but she eloped about two years after we got her, and it wasn’t until years later we discovered that she was living comfortably as a fat house cat to an elderly neighbour. I’m glad she’s happy but, she certainly didn’t live up to her namesake.
So, I decided after that that perhaps it was an unlucky practice to name my cats after beloved fictional characters, and so my current fluff is named the most absurdly cat-tastic name I could think of: Lilac Puff. She is a Persian cat so she looks a little bit like a grey, better groomed Crookshanks.
For more information about A Celebration of Harry Potter or to get your tickets to attend, click here.