Harry Potter alum gets real (and shirtless) for new comedyOn January 29, 2018 by Lucius
Matthew Lewis has been working with his heroes for decades. The Harry Potter actor who played Neville (and later, hot!Neville) grew up in front of the camera and spent 10 years growing up at wizarding school for the world to see.
On Jan. 29, his new British comedy Girlfriends debuts on Acorn TV, uniting him once again on-screen with thespian royalty – including some Potter alumni.
Lewis met writer Kate Mellor when he was five years old and this is the first time since then that they’ve worked together. Mellor explained the mission of the show – about three aging gal pals – and why she wanted to make it. Throughout a career in television and film, Mellor saw women play wives, daughters, sisters, secretaries. She wanted to write something that would be the opposite, with men as the supporting pieces to women – and to women of a certain age.
“Harry Potter to me seems like almost a second life that I led previously…and talking to Zoe brought a lot of that back.”
“She actually just called me up and she explained exactly that,” Lewis told Mashable. “I still felt there was enough there as a character for me to enjoy and get my teeth into and to play, and I had the added privilege of being able to watch these three women be brilliant. It ticks a few boxes for me, it was a real pleasure.”
“I’m 28, and I still feel like I’m learning,” Lewis added. “I’ve always felt like a fraud in this industry, like someone who just seems to keep getting work but I’m not really entirely sure why. So I’m just constantly trying to learn and develop, add strings to the bow, as it were, and this was a fine opportunity to do that, to observe and watch three geniuses at work.”
Those geniuses are the show’s leading women: Phyllis Logan, Miranda Richardson, and Zoë Wanamaker. Richardson had a part in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire as cunning gossip journalist Rita Skeeter, and Wanamaker appeared in the first film – for Lewis’s first day on set.
“There’s always that fear that I still have to this day that these great actors and actresses who I worked with years ago won’t even remember me,” Lewis said. “But it never seems to be the case. They always do remember, which is so lovely, and Zoë was no exception. She remembered very well and we had a good laugh about it.”
“It’s kind of surreal, you often forget,” he added. “Harry Potter to me seems like such a – almost a second life that I led previously, and very different from where I am now…but you have to stop for a moment and just remember ‘Oh, god that was me that did that film!’ and talking to Zoe brought a lot of that back.”
Lewis plays Wanamaker’s son Tom, who’s living at home after a year in prison and trying to maintain custody of his own young son. Lewis described Tom as being “wrapped in cotton wool” by his mother.
“Tom’s father was a piece of work; [his mother] didn’t have much in him to fall back on, and so she lived for her son,” Lewis explained. “And that manifests itself in lots of negative ways. Tom became reliant on her, became very very lazy, and so what we see is Tom having these responsibilities – but in no way is he prepared 100 percent to take them on himself. He’s got a lot of maturing and growing up to do. He’s very selfish at times, which we’ll see throughout the series but he does take a journey as well.”
That journey won’t be a quick one, not least because much of the first few episodes is spent unpacking the mysterious disappearance at sea of Linda’s (Logan) husband. With no body, he’s presumed dead, and an investigation puts Linda under a microscope and tests her friends’ loyalty.
Filming also took Lewis back to his hometown of Leeds in Northern England, to accents most non-English viewers will liken to the North on Game of Thrones or the downstairs drawl of Downton Abbey. On-screen – particularly across the pond – Northern England is all but synonymous with a gritty working class. This is the England of Peaky Blinders and Happy Valley, but look closely and you’ll find the world showcased in Ackley Bridge, or in Girlfriends.
“What Kate does is when she shows it there’s so much more to it, there’s such a vibrancy to it, there’s some real real people there, not just murder and death,” Lewis said. “There’s real humor and there’s a real charm to the rest of England, and it’s something that’s not showcased very often.”
Girlfriends is now streaming on Acorn TV.