Tom Felton has been acting professionally since the age of nine, when he starred as Peagreen Clock in the fantastical tale The Borrowers. He went on to portray Jodie Foster’s son in the 1999 feature Anna and the King. In 2001, he landed the role of Harry Potter’s (Daniel Radcliffe) nemesis and Slytherin leader, Draco Malfoy, playing the part for 10years.
With Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, the franchise comes to an end. Tom spoke with journalists at the press day for the movie in New York, where he also caught a performance of Daniel Radcliffe’s musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.
Your whole adolescence was played out on screen in the Potter films. Was there a single most embarrassing moment?
Oh, there’s a handful. Where do I start? The most embarrassing thing for an actor, when you are surrounded by other actors you look up to, is messing up your lines. There was one time that I did it very noticeably. I guess it was the third film or possibly the second one.
There was a nice closing line for Draco towards the end of it and I couldn’t get it out for love or money. Sometimes you over-rehearse. I’m not sure what it was but I couldn’t do it and I actually started crying. I was about 13 or 14. “So sorry, I can’t do it!” and Chris Columbus, the director was the ultimate director for kids and he really knows how to talk to them. (He said) ‘It’s fine.
We got it. It’s in the can. It’s gonna be in the movie.’ They cut it out at the last minute but I learned very quickly from that. So that was pretty embarrassing. I don’t know why I shared that [he laughs].
During the final battle, Draco basically ignores Lucius. Do you think their relationship was strained from that point on? In the epilogue, Draco seems like a loving parent.
Yeah. It’s open for interpretation. It was in the book and, hopefully, we’ve done that in the film as well. That’s not a bad way to look at it. I think at that moment when he gets called over, his dad’s voice doesn’t do much to him. It almost makes him say, ‘I’m not moving.’ But, when his mom calls him over, I suppose it’s like in real life really, sons have a soft spot for their moms.
If my mom asked me to do something, I’d do it for sure. I suppose that’s the moment where he realizes that Lucius (Jason Isaacs) hasn’t quite been the wonderful influence that he once thought he was.
Throughout his life, Draco has wanted to be Lucius and almost in that moment he realizes, ‘I don’t want to be anything like him,’ so yeah that’s nice. It’s 19 years later and he’s a lot better parent than Lucius was I’m sure.
That was your reaction when you saw the aging process that they did to you for the end of the movie?
Shocking! I mean, come on? Nineteen years and they’re basing it on Jason Isaacs! He looks like his dad. It was a lot of fun and cool. They prepared for months.
They wanted pictures of my dad and my brothers and did loads and loads of endless tests. I think [my old-age make-up] was a message to kids to say that crime doesn’t pay and that anyone with a goatee musn’t be trusted. I’m not sure. It was a lot more fun to take it off at the end of the day and go back to my normal age.
Also, in the epilogue, Draco’s on screen wife is someone you know personally. Can you talk about how she was cast for the film?
Sure, the lovely Jade (Olivia, a stunt assistant on the film). Both of our arms were twisted to get her involved, first mine then her’s. David Heyman, the producer came to me and then David Yates loved the idea and followed up.
Jade is actually my real girlfriend and has been for three and a half years so it was a lot of fun onscreen to play hubby and wife for a bit and have a kid for three days. Three days is a good amount of time [he laughs]. It’s perfect because, by the end of it, it’s like, ‘See you later.’ It was very nice to be a little family for a while.
What are you feeling right now? Relief? Expectation for the future?
Yeah I’m really intrigued to see what fans make of the final film. They’ve been waiting for this a long time. I feel like this is the reason we made the last seven films so we could get to this final chapter, so we’re very excited about that.
Obviously all good things come to an end and we’re just excited to end on a high note. Personally, it’s a nerve-wracking but equally exciting time. I don’t know what’s around the corner so that’s always something fun.
Have you already planned some cast reunions?
Yeah, of course. Most of us are in four different corners of the world at one time but I was very lucky to finally see Daniel’s show last night. For those who haven’t seen it it’s unbelievable, very strange seeing him up there after 10 years seeing him as Harry, but [he does] an unbelievable job.
Of course our friendship or relationship isn’t going to die regardless of how many years we spend apart from one another because we had a very unique experience.
We did it together and I feel very lucky to have a dozen or so other youngsters who have shared the experience with me.