Liz Hoggard from “London Evening Standard” spoke with Tom about his Harry Potter crush and more. They also published a new photo of Tom.
Tom Felton: My Harry Potter crush was Helena Bonham Carter not Emma Watson
As Draco Malfoy, Harry Potter’s great rival, Tom Felton is terrifying with parchment skin and platinum-blond hair.
But in the flesh, Felton, 23, is funny and charming and his hair is light brown. After filming finished, he was allowed to get a tan. For 10 years he has been wearing factor 50 to preserve his ghost-white complexion.
He is officially the sexiest Potter actor. Emma Watson, 21, admitted last week she fell for him when she was 11: “He was my first crush. He totally knows. We talked about it – we still laugh about it. We are really good friends now, and that’s cool.”
When I quiz Felton today, he says it was more a brother-sister relationship: “It was nine years ago. We were quite different in age group, and it’s nice that we’ve been good friends ever since, and we’ve always been able to look back and laugh. It’s a true sign of how long we’ve actually been spending time with each other, and how we’ve grown up together.”
In fact he confesses his screen crush is Helena Bonham Carter, who plays his aunt Bellatrix in the films. “She is completely unique, an English rose with a crazy twist. She wears vintage French clothing and she’s very cheeky. Off the set it’s all hugs and darlings, then when the camera starts rolling she turns into a complete psycho. It’s amazing to watch.”
In real life, Felton has been with girlfriend Jade Olivia, 23, for four years (they met on Harry Potter where she was working as a stunt co-ordinator’s assistant). She has a cameo in the final film, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2, where we get a flash-forward to what all the characters look like in 19 years’ time. Jade plays Astoria Greengrass – Draco’s wife. “We had to slightly twist her arm. She’d rather be behind the camera.”
Felton admits there were tears on the last day of filming. “It was very British, very awkward. No one knew what to say or do.”
He initially auditioned for the role of Harry, losing out to Radcliffe. “People think there must be jealousy but there honestly isn’t, because no one could touch the part that he plays; not just for the acting but all the other stuff he has to deal with.”
This week Radcliffe talked frankly about giving up alcohol when he realised the pressures of fame were making him dependent on whisky and partying.
It’s a typically brave gesture, says Felton. “I’ve always been very proud of Daniel. I confess to having no knowledge of his drinking whatsoever, this is all news to me. But Daniel is always someone who’s outspoken and fairly keen to get his message across, so I think it’s great he’s willing to talk about things like that. He’s a massive inspiration to millions of kids across the world, he’s always been wise beyond his years.”
It was Radcliffe who encouraged him not to quit acting. “For a few years I didn’t know if I wanted to do it any more, but he helped remind me how lucky we were – and not to take it for granted.”
Felton grew up the youngest of four boys (his parents are separated) in Surrey. He joined an after-school drama club, where they suggested he get an agent. Two weeks later he won a role in an American advert.
Roles followed in The Borrowers and Anna and the King. He was cast as Draco because he looked exactly how Rowling describes him in the books.
But his acting range has been stretched. “It’s been nice to take him from a boy – which I was at the time – to nearly a man.”
It took a while to get to know Rowling. “In the first seven years I saw her twice and we never quite clicked. But at the end of the sixth film, a friend who was living in my old house got a letter from someone saying I was really good in the last film, signed ‘Jo’. I went round and the letter was decorated with purple ink and her very recognisable signature, just expressing her seal of approval, and that was huge. I wrote her a letter back and since then we’ve been very friendly. She’s exactly the same person. It’s quite bizarre when you meet someone of that stature who’s still down to earth.”
Felton is very famous, too. But he says the crew and producers on Harry Potter were the first people to whip them into shape. “And we’re very blessed that we had normal parents, rather than a showbiz background. Someone told me that if we’d shot Harry Potter in America, it would all have been very different.”
There are downsides – you miss out ski trips, exchange programmes. “I’ve loved every minute of it but you can’t put a price on your childhood.”
In between filming, he attended his local comprehensive. “I was going back and forth, which was difficult but a lot better than giving up on school and saying, ‘Oh, I’ll just do private education’. School is more about interacting with people from different walks of life than just academic achievement. So I feel very grateful that I wasn’t sent anywhere where I was sheltered from what the world was really about. My friends are still my group of friends from secondary school.”
Sometimes when he returned with bright blond hair, there was name-calling. “It wasn’t always fun at the time but you look back and think, ‘I’m glad I got into the scrap with the school bully’.”
He’s earned around £3 million from Harry Potter.
But no one in the family knew what to do with all the money he was making. His mother invested some of it in property (he owns a house in Dorking where he lives), but he wasted a lot on “pointless things that kids buy: skateboards and clothes and typical teenage stuff”.
He also had a weakness for cars. The reality check came via the taxman. At one point they had the bailiff at the door. “There were lots of horrible meetings with accountants and the Inland Revenue.
I’m still getting my head around it. But there came a point where I thought I have to sort it out myself, not just rely on parents.” He’s still working on it.
Now Potter is over, Felton has been auditioning – for the first time since he was 11. In August, we’ll see him in Rise of the Planet of the Apes with James Franco and Freida Pinto. Felton plays the son of a manager of an ape sanctuary. “His character makes Draco look like a bit of a wimp, he’s far more evil.”
Then there’s horror thriller The Apparition, and From the Rough, a sporting drama about a young black female coach who trains a men’s golf team.
He hopes to go to university, and has set up his own recording company, Six String Productions, devoted to signing young acts overlooked by the music industry.
The relationship between Felton’s character and Harry in the final film is complex, he reveals.
“Draco has been a good hate-figure. But we start to see he’s a victim of circumstances. He almost has a glimpse of redemption – then very quickly throws it away.”
He loves director David Yates’s claim that – for all the wands – Harry Potter is gangsters with guns. “Daniel and I often say Harry and Draco are two sides of the same coin. In the last scene of the film, there’s a lovely bit where they share a look. It’s not a hug and a kiss, but it’s as close as they’re going to get.”
Note: The article was also published in the print issue.