No matter how much you might love Harry Potter, Ron Weasley or other Gryffindor wizards, be nice to Draco Malfoy if you bump into him this weekend.
Sure, British actor Tom Felton plays Harry's Hogwarts nemesis to the hilt on screen. But in real life Felton is a charmer who loves the films and books as much as fans do.
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Felton will meet with muggles Friday through Sunday, July 22-24, at Hollywood Palms Cinema in Naperville and Hollywood Blvd. Cinema in Woodridge. So as fans say their final goodbyes to the decade-long film franchise, they also can bid adieu to their beloved bully in person.
The end has been bittersweet for teary-eyed audience members who packed theaters to see last weekend's debut of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II."
And Felton, 23, who spent half his life on the films, agrees it's a bit rough. But he also reminds would-be wizards that now is a happy time -- and not just because Felton thankfully gets to shed Draco's bleach blond coif.
To get a final dose of "Harry Potter" magic, the Daily Herald spoke with Felton from his latest film promotion site in Los Angeles. And whether you love Draco or hate him, Felton offers a bit more insight into what makes the pure blood Slytherin tick.
Q. In the recent Harry Potter films, we've watched Draco have a slight change of heart. So is Draco really a villain, or is he just misunderstood?
A. I think that question really nails it and, yes, he is a bit misunderstood. A lot of people are asking me what I think of Draco. What side would he really like to be on? But I'm not really sure. His hands are kind of tied, aren't they?
In his heart of hearts, I think he'd like to be aligned with the students. But because of his fantastic parents, he really doesn't have a choice. I think he's a classic example of (a child who) is a victim of his awful parents.
Q. Is it fun playing the villain? Or do you wish you got to play a more beloved character like Harry, the role for which you initially auditioned?
A. No, I'm thoroughly pleased that I got the bad guy, so to speak. I definitely think he's been a lot more fun in the last few years. Especially since he's not a typical villain or just an obvious bully. In a way, he's really been forced to be. But as we discussed, in the recent films we kind of get a chance to see behind that.
Q. Some articles say you experienced bullying from jealous classmates at school during your gaps from making the early films. Do you think that helped you hone your role?
A. Well, I wouldn't use that word, bullying. It was more about banter, if you will. When you go back to normal school, it wasn't a case of kids being jealous, but teasing the kid with the bright blond hair, more than anything. I don't think it really contributed to Draco in any way.
If anything, I have three older brothers who gave me enough of a hard time over the years. They're definitely more an inspiration than the school kids.
Q. Some of the actors went into this franchise as fans of the "Harry Potter" books, while others had never read them. Where do you fall?
A. I am on the bad side, unfortunately. I auditioned and even accepted the role without experiencing the books at all really. I was completely unknowledgeable. But I became a fan really quickly and I believe it was book two that really got me started. Within a year of getting involved, I was hooked.
Q. Is there something you kept from the set, like your wand? Draco's quidditch uniform?
A. I insisted on the wand. But they were really tight with those during filming. They had them under lock and key. People think there were thousands of wands and brooms, but there was only one each, so they would keep them in storage. Draco also wears a silver ring and I got to keep that as a memento.
Q. Here's the sentiment among many fans about the second part of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows": We have been waiting for this day for years, but we also never wanted it to come. How do you feel about this being the final film?
A. It's a bittersweet ending, isn't it? I think (the cast) is happy more than anything. It's kind of sad we're all coming to an end, but we are just excited it's coming to this high note. It's been exciting to see everyone going to see the film over the weekend. Even by the fifth film, we were thinking of this day and I think everyone has been looking forward to this for years.
Q. So without a villain like Draco to jeer now, what will we do? Will we see you in a new role soon?
A. "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" is up next for me, and my character is a guy called Dodge. He looks after the apes, but he takes great pleasure in watching them suffer. Really, he makes Draco look very soft.