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Why Harry Potter's Matthew Lewis Finds It Difficult To Watch The Movies

As Harry Potter's Neville Longbottom, Matthew Lewis is one of several young actors who brought J.K. Rowling's beloved characters to life in front of millions of people worldwide (and made a pretty penny doing it). That means he had the rare privilege of making movie history before he was even old enough to drive.

But it also means that he had the daunting task of growing up on screen — which he now admits was no easy feat. The actor, now 31 years old, has been open about the downsides to filming the magical movie franchise. Matthew Lewis has admitted that as he grew up and began to naturally shed weight, for example, the Harry Potter team struggled with how to keep him looking like the Neville Longbottom fans expected to see. 

Still, despite those growing pains, his performance as Neville Longbottom has always been celebrated by Harry Potter fans. He managed to bring the character to life in a way that felt accurate for fans of the books, but never overplayed the aspects of his personality that might make him seem too pitiful. Given the positive feedback, it might be surprising to learn that Matthew Lewis sometimes struggles to watch the Harry Potter films — and perhaps not for a reason you might expect.

For Matthew Lewis, Harry Potter hits a little too close to home

Neville Longbottom is one of the most fascinating characters in the entire Harry Potter series. While his screen time in the film adaptations may have left something to be desired, his shyness, awkwardness, and obvious insecurity regarding his magical abilities make him one of the more relatable characters in the entire series. They also make his eventual growth into a confident wizard warrior one of the most satisfying character arcs.

While playing Neville Longbottom surely helped change the course of Matthew Lewis' life, he can admit now that it's a struggle to reflect back on the role. The actor told The New York Times, "At times it's painful how much of me there is in Neville." It's for that reason that watching the Harry Potter films isn't easy. He admitted, "When I'm watching, I'm like, 'That's not Neville; that's you.'"'

The vulnerability that Matthew Lewis brought to Neville Longbottom may be difficult for him to look back on, and he says he still struggles with playing characters too similar to himself. But this authenticity is a big part of what made the character compelling for so many Harry Potter fans. So, while it may be uncomfortable for him to watch Neville on screen and see parts of himself there, he can take comfort in knowing that his performance means a lot to so many fans around the world.