As most of you know, a little over a week ago I got to fly across the pond, as I was invited to the big press junket for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 in London. While I’ve already posted my interviews with Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, producers David Heyman and David Barron, and director David Yates, I’ve got one more and it’s with Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy).
While Felton doesn’t have a lot of screen time in Part 1 of The Deathly Hallows, he was still a great interview, as he talked about his feelings on the series ending, what it was like to see the movie the night before, and he told us some great behind the scenes stories. In addition, Felton has a part in 20th Century Fox’s Rise of the Ripes, and he talked to us about who he plays, his thoughts on the work Andy Serkis is doing, and how the movie is pushing forward motion capture technology. Hit the jump to either watch the video or read the transcript:
Tom Felton: I had a TV spot this morning at 6AM so even better! Yeah it was a rather rushed morning to say the least, but hopefully I didn’t embarrass myself too badly this morning.
Have you been with the series from the very beginning?
And how old were you when you started?
Felton: I forget, it escapes me, but I think I was around 11 when I first auditioned.
And how old are you now?
So what’s it been like, when you got the job did you know you were going to do all 7?
Felton: No, obviously not. Because then it was only two, it wasn’t even seven. And I don’t think she’d committed to actually writing seven, I’m not entirely sure. No, around the end of the first one they said, you know, if this does okay there could be a small chance that we come back for another. They said it after the second and after the third and then here we still are. They certainly never said “We’re gonna make all seven, sign up here on the dotted line.” It was a case of depending on how the last film does really.
When you look at what you’ve done with the series, do you have one vivid memory that stands out?
Felton: Wow, so many really, it’s like one vivid blurred memory of the last ten years really. It does all feel like one rather than eight different films or seven different films, whichever way you’re looking at it.
Because you never were away?
Felton: Well, I guess we were, but we kinda just went back and forth so much and it just seemed like a second home really. I’ve actually started to miss it all, seeing old faces and old friends, et cetera. I certainly will never forget the first time we walked into the Great Hall as a group. It was one of the first shots I think we ever did. Yeah, that’ll stick with me, that one.
I’m curious, hypothetically speaking, what you might have borrowed from the set and taken home?
Because you would have never taken anything home, because that would be stealing.
Felton: That’s very unlike Draco, let alone Tom. I would never have stuffed a couple of Nimbuses up my trouser legs, of course. No, they actually had very vigilant checks. There were actually car searches, random car searches on the way out of the studio. Actually for a joke we wanted to stuff Daniel (Radcliffe) in the back of my car once to say that I was stealing Harry, but that never happened. Wouldn’t you have loved to see the security’s face when they lifted the boot up and saw Daniel lying in the back? Hands tied up? Anyway, that’s a whole other fantasy. I managed to get a ring, a silver ring that Draco wears. It’s basically a Salazar Slytherin ring. I have it on my mantelpiece and whenever I feel a bit of withdrawal symptoms I slip it on and get back into Draco.
Having grown up twelve years making this, I know not all your cast members plan on continuing to act. And I was just curious, when did you realize this is really what you wanted to do?
Felton: I was cursed with age, really. You do that stupid thing at 12 years old when you say something and it kind of sticks with you for the rest of your life. So, I believe I said I wanted to be a fishery manager. In hindsight, I think acting could be a better route. Certainly in the last couple of years, I’ve really grasped how lucky we’ve all been, not only to be acting professionally but to be acting in such a fantastic project.
Gratefully I’ve been on a couple other film sets in between and I have a huge embedded passion. It’s really down to David Yates, actually, he really embedded and established a massive passion for filmmaking, not just in front of the camera but also behind it. And I’m such an admirer of his work, again not just visually but the sound, the music, it all comes together beautifully. If I can continue, whether it’s behind or in front of the camera, that’ll be great.
Tell me about what you’re doing in Rise of the Apes. You’re working with Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire) and you shot that in BC (British Columbia)?
Felton: Yeah, actually, it was bizarre. It was four days after Harry Potter finished, we said, “Right, let’s go on a bit of a holiday,” my lovely missus and I. It was like four days into that they said, “Come home, we need you to go to Vancouver.” So it was a real surprise, it came out of nowhere. I didn’t even realize it was going.
It was fantastic. It was a month in Vancouver, which what a wonderful place that was to shoot. James Franco, I’m sure you know is the lead, who is a charming and highly intelligent man and made us all feel very stupid. And Andy Serkis, obviously plays Caesar, he was one of the most charming gentlemen I’ve ever met. And actually, singing David’s (Yates) praises, I never thought I’d walk onto another set that had that same atmosphere, because I’m sure you already know and if not you will know, that David is such a lovely, approachable director. And Rupert Wyatt, who directed the Rise of the Apes so well, he was very much cut from a similar cloth. So that was delightful for me.
What’s your role? What do you do?
Felton: Sorry, I can’t reveal too much, of course. It’s a fairly unpleasant role again, unfortunately.
So you’re a bad guy?
Felton: Unfortunately, yes. Well, I say “unfortunately,” more like “fortunately” really. The long and short of it is, I work at a primate facility which my dad owns and needless to say I don’t take care of our residents too well. I have a whole arsenal of weapons that I use at my taste. It was a delightful role and I really enjoyed it. It’s very, very different from Draco even if he is still not a pleasant character, in a very different way.
So the last time we spoke you said you wanted to do a Bond villain. Is that still something you’d like to do?
Felton: Well, yes, certainly that’d be amazing.
So, villains are your thing?
Felton: Well, to be fair, Bond would be fine as well. I’m not gonna turn that down. Either/or really. I’m such an admirer, I am an admirer of villains, especially working with so many great ones. I mean Alan Rickman and Ralph (Fiennes) are really…it’s taken me a good seven years to pluck up the courage to talk to them and even now I still find them menacing. Even as charming and lovely as they are.
Do you find yourself starstruck by some of the cast around you?
Felton: It’s not even ‘starstruck.’ It’s actually terrified, genuinely. These… Ralph or Alan, just for example, they’re lovely charming people and yet when they roll cameras they literally go psycho in front of your eyes. It’s quite something to behold. I don’t know what’s more weird, actually seeing Ralph being Voldemort with the wand and everything, or seeing him off set dressed in white with a green cloak, talking about east enders last night, or something like that. Whatever it was, it was even more bizarre seeing him as a muggle.
So you don’t mind the idea that, in a way, you’ve been typecast? Or do you think you’ve just got a cruel nature that just comes out on camera?
Felton: I’m not sure. Whatever Chris Columbus saw in me when I was 11, I’m not sure. I think at 23 it’s a little early to be typecast. But equally, if villainy is where my career takes me then I shall embrace it with both hands, definitely.
I want to go back to Rise of the Apes for a second. I saw some set photos that had, it seems like the technology in that movie is pushing forward the motion capture. Could you talk about how Andy (Serkis) is able to walk around in the real world with that?
Felton: Again, I’m not entirely sure how much I can say, but I can reveal, yes, they are using, as far as I know, motion capture technology and using it in a whole new light. As far as I know, again, the whole Avatar-style is to shoot it within the realms of green screen and so forth, whereas this is actually taking a physical man and putting him into the real world, if you will. Andy, I’m not sure if you’ve seen him in anything else, but he has a fantastic ability to re-create. And actually, going on that, he was scarier than Ralph converting from a lovely man into Voldemort. Seeing Andy being this charming English gentleman that he is and literally flipping, and turning into an ape, it was really, really scary. To hear him make the noises he does. He literally moves, spot on, to what a chimp would. It’s incredible to watch that as well.
We don’t really see Draco much in Deathly Hallows so what do you imagine his daily routine to be, living with Voldemort?
Felton: Christ. I don’t know. All I know is at one point he gets called out, I’m pretty sure he’s supposedly in his bedroom, I’m not quite sure what he’s doing, but he walks out in a full black suit. He seems to, whatever the occasion, he’s dressed for a funeral, this man. He’s a sharp dresser, even his pajamas seem to be rather fetching.
I’m not sure. Needless to say, Voldemort’s a rather bad house guest. He doesn’t bring much fun, doesn’t help with the washing up, so I imagine he (Draco) just sits there terrified all the time. He’s a pretty daunting man.
Are you happy to leave the peroxide and the tons of hair gel behind?
Felton: Yes! Yes, that goes without any doubt at all. Even though I had lots of fun with it. And actually, oddly, occasionally miss it but realistically it was a rather alarming look that was kind of a beacon for all Harry Potter fans. So it’s nice to avoid that.
Is your hair right now, is this what we’d call your natural color?
Felton: I wouldn’t actually be able to tell you that, I’m afraid. It’s been so long since I’ve actually seen it. It used to be my eyebrow color but they dyed those as well a couple of years back. I’m not too sure about it. This is the third attempt to get the blonde out because the sun keeps bringing it back out again. We’re getting there, slowly but surely.
Could you talk a little bit about, obviously Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is coming next summer, have you done ADR on it yet or seen anything?
Felton: Nothing. Last night was my first frame of anything that we’ve shot. I haven’t seen anything before last night. And I’ve certainly seen nothing of the second part.
So what did you think of it?
Felton: I was blown away. I really was. Especially after all…I’ve done three days of junketing, so hearing all the opinions of journalists and so forth, I felt like I was the only one in the dark. So it was nice to finally go and see it. A very different type of film and I was just entranced the whole way through, really. Credit to David, once again.
What’s your favorite part of the movie?
Felton: It’s hard. There are so many great bits. I love the improv dance between Daniel and Emma (Watson), to sort of break the tension a bit. It’s much needed comic relief, or not even comic relief, but certainly some sort of relief. It’s hard to say, really, favorite bits. I love watching Ralph. He’s as menacing on the screen as he is in real life, so that’s a real treat.
But actually, the highlight for me was seeing the relationship between the main three, especially with Rupert (Grint). We’re so used to seeing the old happy-go-lucky Ron. It was really nice to see him roughed up and bruised and pissed off at Harry. It was good to see.
Are you focusing on your music and your band?
Sure, it’s not really focusing on it. It’s more just a passion project of mine. But I’ve started a little independent record label called “Six String Productions” and recorded a couple of tunes and I hope to do some more with some future artists next year. It’s a real passion project of mine. A couple of friends proposed the idea to me and I thought, “If I don’t do it now, I’m always going to regret it if I don’t,” so, like I said, it’s something I’m very passionate about and hoping to do more with next year.
Are you going to look back on the whole thing as one experience or do you have a stand-out film, because I know number six (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince) was really big for your character?
Felton: Not really. It kind of all blurs into one. I never really remember saying good-bye and then coming back six months later. I just remember it blending into one. But obviously there are slightly different experiences, more to do with my age, I guess. We were so young in the first ones. You don’t really question anything when you’re 12 or 13, you just get on with it and then look back and think, “Oh, that was bizarre.”
It was around that time that I mentioned this infatuation for filmmaking. It was that film, the sixth one, that really embedded that. And just actually being on set a lot more and working a lot closer with Yatesy, et cetera, made it a lot more fun.
What’s been the main change among you all that you’ve sensed? Maturity?
Yeah, people probably change gradually?
Felton: Yeah, sure, everyone had to grow up before their time. I say “had to.” It wasn’t a “had to” thing, it was a “did” and pleasantly, because of spending so much time around adults on the set and stuff. Certainly Daniel, he came in one minute as a child and the next minute he’s speaking like a 40-year-old philosopher. It was quite bizarre. He is certainly the most learned man, I ever, yeah I think it’s him and Stephen Fry in a world of their own.
Other than that, really, not a lot. It’s really nice, actually, for me, for all of us, to have shared the experience with another, ten other, I still call us kids, I know we’re well past our twenties now so it’s no longer credible. But it’s nice, it’s sort of an unspoken thing we have between each other where we’ve all gone through the same thing together and I think that if we ever needed to seek refuge or find someone who understands it, then it’s nice that we have that.
You mentioned before, your Missus, you were gonna go off when you finish this. Are you married?
Felton: No, no. Sorry, it’s a British thing, I apologize. I’ve had this misunderstanding a few times. Sorry, just my girlfriend. There’s no ring.
Is this the young lady you were with in Toronto?
Felton: This is. That’s my lovely Jade (Olivia) over there, yes.
She’s an assistant on the movie set. How was it working together?
Felton: Yeah, great, I mean obviously that’s where we met, so certainly my fondest memories of being at Leavesden. And actually it was very sad to see the place go, certainly because of that, you know? I’ve met a lot of great friends for life in that building and obviously, Jade being the top of that list.
What was it like seeing everyone yesterday then?
Felton: Actually, really quite upsetting, it’s bizarre. The last few days everyone’s been saying how sad that it’s all, you know. And it’s like, “Yeah, we’re fine, we’re fine,” and then when you see everybody you think, “Oh God, I haven’t seen you for so long.” Yeah, it was quite upsetting, but delightful at the same time. It’s always nice to see everyone and trade war stories, etc.
I did a set visit and they have a cafeteria and you guys were filming. I noticed that Alan Rickman would be in full Snape uniform, eating food with little kids and all the people would be eating and it was very communal. Could you talk about whether you brought any young relatives or friends and have them take that in as an outsider, seeing how cool that was?
Felton: Yeah, I mean it’s great. It was always one of those things where you have the most bizarre lunch hall in the world. You literally had a two-foot goblin sitting next to an 85-year-old wizard with a cape round his beard to stop him from spilling soup in it. It’s a very interesting lunch hall.
One of the great things about that was we were kinda used to, for a while, these huge A-list actors getting lovely people to fetch their lunch for them. Alan, one of the people from day one, he would queue up and insist on queuing like the rest of the people and sitting down and clearing his own plate, etc. A lot has been learned from seeing Alan’s great set etiquette. It’s not all about what you do on screen. I think it’s really important what you do off it as well. Alan does that beautifully.
Did you ever bring in any friends? What did they think?
Felton: Yeah, of course. To be honest with you, my friends couldn’t have been less interested. They thought it was a complete waste of time. I bored them for hours about sets and they were completely uninterested, which is the best way. If they took me to their office I’m sure I’d be dying of boredom as well, so that suits me.
What about fan encounters? Have you ever had anybody, because you’re Draco, act violently against you?
Felton: Wow! Yeah, luckily not. I mean I’ve been booed and hissed. No one’s tried to knock my lights out yet, thank God. It’s funny, when you mentioned children coming down to the studio, obviously there are lots of youngsters that come down, needless to say not all of them are as excited about meeting me as they are Daniel, and rather reluctant to shake my hand and so forth. I do try my best to try and sway them, but I think the more I try, the more creepy it is. So, needless to say, I don’t have a huge fan base with the under sevens, but I’ll take it as a compliment.
I know we’re running out of time with you, but are you looking at other scripts right now? What’s coming up that we might not know about? What are you thinking about?
Felton: Well, I’m reading scripts, trying to find something I can really sink my heart and soul into. It’s a nice thing now, being in a position where hopefully we can find projects that we can really invest our time into, not just on screen but also hopefully behind the screen as well.
Do you think the challenge for yourself as an adult actor will be to try to find something that will have more of an impact, or as much as an impact, as being “Draco Malfoy” has been for you?
Felton: No, not at all. I wouldn’t think of it at all like that. I would just look at anything that challenges me, really. Before doing the sixth film, it was always a very scary time for me, thinking, “Christ, I’m not gonna pull this off.” And thanks to David, it really embedded a great confidence in me. So I want to go for that experience again, really, where I completely doubt myself and hopefully a director instills some confidence.
After all the villainy, would you like to play a romantic lead now?
Felton: Why not? Let’s do it! Yeah, of course, I’d love to do anything that sort of broadens my horizons. Yeah, I think we could pull that off. I think we could do that.
Is there any worrying with the planning of another potential franchise?
Felton: With Rise of the Apes or just in general?
Felton: No, I’m not knocking ten years work at all. Bond would be a happy one. By all means, if they gave me that call, I wouldn’t hesitate. It’s not something I’ve been thinking about, to be honest with you. I’m just looking to do as much good work as possible. Great writing usually helps that along a lot of the time, definitely.
If J.K. Rowling writes another book would you get on board?
Felton: Yeah, you can’t see this character through ten years and give off on him now. We’re actually saying that maybe the chances are in twenty-five years there’ll be remakes, you know the Disney 4D or whatever, and I’ll get to play Lucius. So, I’ll keep my fingers crossed for that one. That’s my pension, right there.