'Harry Potter's' Tom Felton on Growing Up as Draco Malfoy

Tom Felton
<p> <strong>Tom Felton</strong>, who plays Harry&#39;s nemesis Draco Malfoy, at the <em>Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 </em>premiere.</p>   |   Dave M. Bennett/Getty Images
He jokes nailing the “sneer,” fearing he’d be replaced in the popular franchise by a “decent actor” and feeling “sad” about the final film.

Harry Potter star Tom Felton -- who plays Draco Malfoy -- never set out to be an actor.

“I never intended to go down this route at all,” he told the New Jersey Star Ledger Sunday. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, the final film in the Warner Bros. franchise, opens Friday.

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“I had no idea where it was going to lead. I always just acted for fun. But when I finally left this drama group I was in, the director insisted I get an agent, and all right, I really didn’t want to, but just to shut him up I met with someone — and within two weeks I was doing a commercial. And then I was in The Borrowers. It just all sort of happened by accident," he said.

He didn't think he'd last through the entire franchise, though.

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"We all thought we’d be lucky to last until the third or fourth film before we were replaced by some decent actors,” he jokes. “I suppose eventually we were led into being slightly better ones ourselves but really, it was only around the sixth film that I think we realized we’d be there till the end. Not that anyone wanted to see other people take over, you know, that would have been awful — seeing someone else get to play your part. But it was only because of the passion of the fans that we ended up doing all eight films.”

Younger fans are kind of afraid of him, he admits.

“A lot of them really struggle with the idea of it all not being real,” he says. “When I meet them, I try to be as friendly as I can, but I think that freaks them out even more. ‘Why is Draco smiling at me?’ The more I try, too — put my arm around them or something — the more it’s ‘Get him away from me!’ So I’ve learned to give up. It’s too hard for some of them. I still get letters, you know, ‘What did Harry ever do to you? Why are you mean to him?’… So it’s been good to do appearances at awards shows, and the younger fans, maybe they see, ‘Oh, right, it’s make-believe.’ ”

Felton laugh that he based his character on his brothers.

"I don’t know, perhaps there’s a little evil child who lives very deep inside me,” Felton says. “But I do tend to find it easier to step into characters who are worlds away from me. The closer they are, the more doubtful I am about them.”

It took him awhile to nail the sneer.

“My grandfather did help me a bit with that, learning how to do it. It’s sort of the signature Draco expression and Grands had me practice a lot. But I got it down eventually. Everything got easier as the character developed," he says.

Felton says that Malfoy's character really grows throughout the movies.

“For the first five films, Draco was a one-dimensional bully, the kind you get in private schools,”he says. “But I think that’s been changing over the years, gradually. You’ve seen him start to doubt his dad, see his father as not quite the great influence he once was.”

“Unfortunately, Draco’s hands are kind of tied — he doesn’t have that much of a choice as to what he can do,” he goes on. “But he does have options presented. You see glimpses of redemption there. I’m not the most philosophical person in the world, but I think it reflects a lot of scenarios in the muggle world, where the way someone behaves is really all about the way he was raised.”

As for the last movie, "we're all very excited about it, and yet we’re all feeling a bit sad, too," he says. "It’s very strange. Draco’s been the Hyde to my Jekyll all this time; I know I can live without the hair color, but it’s going to be interesting seeing how I say goodbye to the rest of it. He’s grown up with me; I’ve grown up with him... I mean, excuse the pun, but it’s all been a bit magical.”


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