Actor Tom Felton famously starred in the beloved Harry Potter movie franchise for over a decade. In his new memoir, “Beyond the Wand: The Magic and Mayhem of Growing Up a Wizard,” the actor bares all, lifting the curtain on the joys and challenges that come with trying to lead a normal muggle life while growing up in the spotlight playing Draco Malfoy, the iconic Slytherin wizard fans love to hate. In the pages of “Beyond the Wand” ($20), Felton candidly reveals intimate details about the lifelong friendships he built with his Harry Potter costars — Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and, of course, Emma Watson — as well as his Hollywood misadventures trying to make a name for himself outside of Harry Potter, his struggles with alcohol abuse, and his triumphant discovery of what he truly wants in life.
In the below excerpt from the chapter “The Potter Auditions or When Draco Met Hermione,” Felton recounts what it was like auditioning for a major studio production like Harry Potter after landing modest gigs in classics like “The Borrowers” and “Anna and the King.” Read on to find out how the fateful audition brings him face to face with a young Watson for the first time and how their fittingly Malfoy-esque first interaction preceded a special long-lasting friendship.
It soon became clear, however, from the auditioning process at least, that there were differences. These were open auditions. I’d been asked by my agents to go along but the vast majority of kids had turned up because they loved the Harry Potter books. I think I was perhaps the only kid at the whole audition who had no idea what they were or how much they meant to people. I’d certainly long forgotten those after-lunch story sessions about the boy wizard.
The auditioning process was longer and more drawn out than anything I’d experienced before. Sure, there were no trips to Hollywood, but the casting was distinctly more involved than usual. There were thousands of kids to audition. It took a long time to give each one their individual chance of success. It must have been exhausting for the casting team. I approached it with my usual lack of overt enthusiasm. Whereas all the other kids were wildly excited about the prospect of being in a film, and clearly knew the book inside out, I was the complete opposite.
They stood thirty of us in a line. One of the adults—I would later find out that this was the director, Chris Columbus—went down the line asking each of us which part of the book we were most excited to see on screen. I remember being under- whelmed by the question. As the responses came, clear and certain—Hagrid! Fang! Quidditch!—I remember standing there wondering if I could go home soon. It was only when it came to the turn of the kid next to me that I realized not only had I given the question zero thought, I had absolutely no idea what anybody was talking about. Who was Hagrid? What was a Quidditch? My neighbor announced that he was most excited to see Gringotts, and I thought to myself, What the hell are they? Some kind of flying animal, maybe?
There was no time to find out. Chris Columbus turned to me. “What bit of the book are you most looking forward to seeing, Tom?”
I stalled. There was an awkward silence in the audition room. I gave my most winning smile and pointed at the Gringotts guy. “Same as him, mate!” I said. I made a little flap- ping motion with my arms. “Can’t wait to see those Gringotts!”
There was a heavy pause.
“You mean you’re looking forward to seeing Gringotts . . . the bank?” Columbus said.
“Oh yeah,” I blagged quickly. “The bank! Can’t wait!”
He gave me a long look. He knew I was bullsh*tting. I knew he knew I was bullsh*tting. He nodded, then continued down the line to a flurry of enthusiastic and informed responses.
Ah well, I thought. You win some, you lose some.
But the audition wasn’t over. Columbus announced that we were going to take a break. “You guys just hang out here,” he said. “Nobody’s going to be filming you. Just do what you want to do.” It was, of course, a bit of a scam. The cameras were rolling and a huge fluffy boom mic hung over the room. I’d been on sets before, I could tell what was going on and I felt pretty cocky about it. I certainly didn’t feel inclined to fall into their trap.
A young, curious girl approached me. She had brown frizzy hair and couldn’t have been more than nine years old. She pointed at the boom mic. “What’s that?” she asked.
I glanced up at it, world-weary and slightly full of myself. I might even have sneered a little. “What’s what?”
“It means they’re recording us. Obviously.” I turned my back on her and wandered off, leaving the little girl to gaze wide-eyed around the room. I later found out that her name was Emma Watson. It was her first time in a film environment. I don’t know whether anybody overheard our little exchange, but if they did, they’d definitely have seen a little Slytherin in me.
Excerpted from the book “Beyond the Wand: The Magic and Mayhem of Growing Up a Wizard” by Tom Felton. Copyright © 2022 by Tom Felton. Reprinted with permission of Grand Central Publishing. All rights reserved.
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