As American fans prepare for next week's premier of “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” , IrishCentral is celebrating the movie’s Irish star, Evanna Lynch.
Lynch plays Luna “Looney” Lovegood in the epic “Potter” series.
The 17-year-old, a Termonfeckin, County Louth native, has been named a “standout” in the “Potter” films, and is a huge Harry Potter fan herself.
The young Irish actress’ father, Donal, brought her to an open audition in London in 2006 for “Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix.” Lynch beat out over 15,000 girls to land the coveted role of Lovegood.
Diehard ‘Harry Potter’ fan
Lynch is such a huge fan of the original “Harry Potter” books that the casting directors almost had no choice but to pick her for the role.
As a child, the Irish actress often wrote to author J.K. Rowling, and in one letter wrote about how she’d love to act in a “Harry Potter” movie, but doubted this would happen because lived in this sleepy little place called Termonfeckin, where nothing ever happened.
Rowling wrote back: “Don’t be too hard on Termonfeckin; it does have a brilliant name! And I come from a very sleepy place.”
According to the Evanna Lynch fan site, when the novel “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” was published in 2003, the 11-year-old was in the hospital, and was devastated that she would miss the release, so much so that the hospital allowed her out for the morning and head to a local bookstore that arranged for her to receive a copy of the book autographed by Rowling.
Lynch arrived at the bookstore dressed in a Harry Potter t-shirt, donning painted-on black Harry Potter glasses, with “I love Harry Potter” scrawled on her arms and her nails painted blue with “Harry Potter” written on them.
“Sometimes I'm stressed and I'm sick of things and I need to forget about them for a while, so in ‘Harry Potter’ you're taken to this wonderful imaginary world where everything is so different. But also the main characters are completely real and modern so you can relate to them,” Lynch has said.
Now that’s a diehard Potter fan.
Lynch as Lovegood
In the role of Luna Lovegood, one of the most beloved characters in the whole Harry Potter universe, Lynch is a natural. Her slightly otherworldly face and manner are the perfect compliment to the eccentric character she plays.
“Luna doesn’t change but her position changes in this new film. Most people are aware of her reputation for being crazy. She’s certainly picked on by the other students,” Lynch told the Irish Voice newspaper and IrishCentral.
“As in any school people are reluctant to be close to that kind of person. Or to be seen to be close to her. But Harry is a lot more comfortable with himself in this film. He’s not as conscious of what people think of him or he just doesn’t care now.
“He accepts Luna and he calls her a friend and she’s thrilled. She helps Harry to see sense when he gets caught up in his struggles. She reminds him who he is.”
In the latest “Harry Potter” film, considered to be Rowling’s darkest chapter, Lynch’s character remains steadfast as both a defender of the wizarding world and as a comfort to Harry in his darkest hour. Lynch says the new film remains faithful to the book and her character.
“Luna seems small and young and not noted for being brave, and yet she is. She’s really calm though, she doesn’t get surprised by anything, and she accepts people’s differences,” she said.
“In fact J.K. Rowling told me as a character she’s the most adjusted to the idea of death in the whole series. That cuts out a lot of fear for her. She tries to impress it on Harry. She’ll take it as it comes.”
Life on the ‘Potter’ set
Lynch said it was an adjustment getting used to acting on set with the amazing “Harry Potter” cast.
“It was this feeling the whole time like I shouldn't be here among all these stars and professionals. I was trying to keep my distance because I wanted to watch everyone,” she said.
“But they want you to feel at home and be part of it, and it became normal very quickly.”
Normal perhaps, but Lynch is still extremely grateful for the opportunity to be around her “idols.”
“The best part of this experience has been meeting the people who were idols,” she told IrishCentral. “That has been great because they are amazing people and they do achieve so much though working so hard. But they’re so normal as well and they don’t have airs and you see all sides of them.
“I used to be afraid to appear on the film set because I felt I was not ready and what would I do, you know? But I learned that they don’t expect you to be perfect, and that was a great thing to learn. Just to be a part of the film is thrilling, because I’ve always been a huge fan of the books, and now I can say I did my part for it.”
Lynch at home in Ireland
Since being cast in the Warner Bros. blockbuster films, Lynch’s life has been a rollercoaster ride of filming and red carpet openings.
For the past month, Lynch has been on the road with Bonnie Wright (who plays Ginny Weasley) and Matt Lewis (who plays Neville Longbottom) promoting “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince” across all the main hotspots of Europe.
But that doesn’t mean her stardom has gone to her head. In fact, in interviews, Lynch sounds remarkably collected and wise beyond her years.
“My life really hasn’t changed as much as you’d imagine. I mean, more people recognize you, and in Ireland that’s especially true because it’s so small. Over there everyone knows you…people in Ireland enjoy their famous actors, their claims to fame, but I don’t think they get too fazed by it, you know?” she told IrishCentral.
Lynch, a vegetarian and a cat lover who owns a cat named Luna, lives with her father Donal, mother Marguerite, older sisters Emily and Máiréad and younger brother Patrick in County Louth, Leinster, and attends Our Lady's College, Greenhills, an all girls' Catholic school located in Drogheda.
“My family and friends are exactly the same as they were, and life is normal. I’m still working away, still doing my Leaving Cert (high school finals) and all that, you know?”
Between Potter films Lynch returns to her life in Drogheda and a hint of normality before the process starts all over again.
“I like Ireland and I have loads of friends there, but I think I want to move to London when I’m older because there’s a lot more to do and I do find it more freeing,” she has said.
“I think in Ireland a lot of the time I feel boxed in. In Ireland you really have to break out to do acting, but in England – and in London in particular – it’s more accepted. Anything can happen there. You can never be bored.
“But Ireland is nice to come back to, too. We live in the country here and you feel so detached from the world, and that’s quite nice.”