Actor Matthew Lewis, who grew up on the big screen as clumsy Neville Longbottom in the Harry Potter movies, is starring in a new series of a TV comedy-drama set in Afghanistan.
The 24-year-old, from Horsforth, is currently in South Africa filming Bluestone 42, a story about a fictional bomb-disposal detachment in Afghanistan.
He plays ammunition technician Corporal Gordon House in the show, which first aired last year. “I watched it and remember thinking I’d love to be part of a show like that. It aims to make people laugh but it’s not trivialised,” said Matthew, who made his first appearance in the Christmas special.
He plays ‘cheeky chappy’ Gordon, nicknamed Tower Block, brought in to replace Corporal Millsy as number two to Captain Medhurst.
“He’s the best of the best and came top in all his classes, but when he arrived in Afghanistan, he was very green and thought he knew a lot more than he actually did,” said Matthew. “Gordon’s a lad and loves getting stuck in with the banter, especially giving Medhurst stick for being a posh public schoolboy, but he did a lot of growing up in that half-hour special.”
He credits the cast and crew for making him feel welcome. “It’s quite daunting joining a show, but everyone was fantastic taking me under their wing. I felt part of the team early on,” he said.
Despite spending most of his life in the spotlight, Matthew remains a Yorkshireman at heart. “All my friends are up there – they are the ones who keep me grounded. When you’re making movies like Potter, you can lose yourself in the glamour of making a big Hollywood film. To come away from that and be normal and go to the pub and watch football, that’s what I really enjoy,” he said.
“Anthony, my older brother (who has appeared in TV dramas like A Touch Of Frost and Emmerdale), started when he was eight and I was two, so my mother chaperoned him and I got taken along. I kind of grew up on television and film sets.”
Aged five, he landed his first role in Kay Mellor’s TV movie Some Kind Of Life alongside Jane Horrocks. Appearances in Dalziel And Pascoe, Where The Heart Is and Heartbeat followed before he was cast in the first Harry Potter movie, released in 2001. Post-Potter, his first part was another Kay Mellor project, lottery drama The Syndicate, partly filmed in Bradford.
There is a third Lewis sibling, Chris, the eldest, who is also in the industry – behind the camera. “He’s always been much more technically minded, so he became a cameraman, and now he’s an editor and works on The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent,” said Matthew.
The actor is about to return to the small screen after making his West End debut in Our Boys in 2012.
“You only work three or four hours in the evening but your day’s taken up focused on that, and it can become quite a chore in the later runs to get through stuff,” he said.
“On Bluestone 42, you’re doing different stuff every day. We’re blowing stuff up, playing around with rifles and it’s beautiful sunshine – so if I ever complain about a job like this, then someone kill me immediately!”
By Emma Clayton, leisure and lifestyle editor