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Matthew Lewis: ‘The loyalty of Harry Potter fans is indisputable’

The actor who played Neville Longbottom in the ‘Harry Potter’ franchise talks drunken mistakes, hangovers and the new series of Comedy Central’s ‘Drunk History’

Miro Vrlik/Shutterstock.com

You probably recognise Matthew Lewis as Harry Potter’s hapless Hogwarts pal Neville Longbottom. Obviously the actor has changed quite a bit since we were first introduced to him 16 years ago. For starters, he’s all grown up. And, after a quick Google, you can’t help but notice there’s a corner of the internet preoccupied with his physical transformation from Neville into, well, what one fan called a ‘beautiful swan’.

Despite the passing of time, the Harry Potter hardcore remains devoted to the actors who brought the characters to life on screen. ‘The level of loyalty is indisputable,’ Lewis says. ‘They have stuck by us for so many years. They are the ones who paid our wages.’

Lewis is far from desperate to get away from his Potter roots either: ‘I can’t deny the step up Neville Longbottom has given me. The scripts I’m being sent now by studios and networks in America I would never have a sniff at had I not been involved in Harry Potter.’ Still, his appearance in ‘Drunk History’, the TV show in which a drunk actor or comedian narrates an episode of history is a million miles from Hogwarts.

Who do you play in ‘Drunk History’?

‘Edmond Halley, the English astronomer, who I think we all know for naming the famous comet. It’s a true story, but with a “Drunk History” twist. I was so thrilled I was able to do it. But I was kind of hoping they’d get me drunk.’

So you’re in ‘Drunk History’ but you had to do it sober? What a letdown…

‘I know. Let’s see if we can talk them into it for the next series. I’m off alcohol at the minute. I’m teetotal again.’

When you’re on the bottle, what’s your drink of choice?

‘I’m kind of boring. I’m a beer drinker. Lager. Boring. But I’d probably have to get gin involved at some point.’

Matthew Lewis in 'Drunk History'Matthew Lewis in 'Drunk History'

‘I’m more obnoxious hungover than I am drunk’

What kind of drunk are you?

‘I’m very loud and I want everyone to listen to what I have to say. I'm quite reserved normally, especially when I go to events – I don't bother or really even talk to many people. Then, as soon as I have too much to drink, I suddenly want to become friends with everyone. I just become a bit too friendly.’

Do you have any drunk history of your own you’d rather forget?

‘There was one terrible time. I went to the polo. It's the most pretentious middle-class thing ever but it’s brilliant. I always get terribly drunk there. I saw Dean Andrews [the actor who plays DS Carling in ‘Life on Mars’] there and I recognised him because he’s famous... but he looks very much like a guy I used to go to football with years ago.

‘In my drunken state I bundled up to him, pushed past a load of people and said: “What the hell are you doing here? Who invited you?” He had no idea who I was and, bless him, he just tried to explain. He was like, “Well, you know, they just sent me a letter and invited me.” I said, “Ridiculous! They'll invite anyone these days.” Then I just wandered off. He must have thought I was some complete maniac.’

When was the last time you were really, really hungover?

‘About a week ago. A couple of friends came over to visit me in America. It was Super Bowl Sunday. I had been invited to several parties but I’d been out the night before and I couldn't move. I couldn't do anything. I couldn't even get off the sofa. It was awful. Man, that was a pretty bad one. I don't normally get that bad. It has to be a special occasion.’

How well do you cope with a hangover?  

‘I’m more obnoxious hungover than I am drunk. I feel incredibly sorry for myself and I let everyone know about it. I feel like everyone needs to wait on me and look after me. I’m better when I’m genuinely ill. If I’ve got flu or a virus I’m much more tolerable.’

Do you have a go-to hangover cure?

‘Anything with bread and cheese. Pizza is always a good shout. The biggest stuffed-crust pizza you can find. When I was really trying to be healthy I’d immediately get up in the morning and make like a smoothie with spinach, broccoli, fruit and stuff. Remarkably it genuinely does help a hangover. But I can’t do that now. It tastes revolting, doesn’t it?’

Matthew Lewis stars in ‘Drunk History’, which starts on Comedy Central tonight (March 7) 

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