The Opposite of Maleficent is Tom Felton

In a recent interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, Tom spoke about playing the villain, gifts from his fans, and how he intense it was shooting films in Malfoy Manor.

Tom Felton couldn’t be more different from his on-screen persona Draco Malfoy.

For a start, his hair’s mousy rather than bleached white blond. And there’s none of the cockiness of the evil young wizard he’s played for 10 years.

Instead, he’s polite, intelligent and incredibly humble about his role in one of the most successful film franchises of all time.

Earlier this year, the 23-year-old beat off stiff competition to win the MTV Movie Award for Best Villain – a moment, he says, that turned him into a “bumbling Brit” – and he’s just filmed Rise Of The Apes alongside James Franco, Andy Serkis and Brian Cox in Canada, too.

Dressed casually in a checked shirt and jeans at a classy London hotel, he litters his sentences with words like “sincerely” and “lucky”.

“I’ve got nothing but tremendous gratitude for what we’ve been doing for the last decade and I sincerely hope that I’ll be lucky enough to continue working in the industry,” he says.

While many child actors notoriously let fame and fortune go to their heads, the Harry Potter crew all seem mature and grounded, something Felton puts down to mixing with adults – and some of Britain’s finest actors, such as Dame Maggie Smith and Michael Gambon.

“I’ve always said it’s ironic because we’re there as wizarding students when really we’re there as acting students learning from these greats. There are some scenes when literally three of the four people there have been knighted. It’s a huge honour.”

In the first instalment of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows, while Harry and co are on the hunt for Horcruxes (objects that could make Voldemort immortal) Draco goes on something of an “interesting journey”.

“At the end of the last film, he fails to do this task that’s going to embed him into the evil society, so he’s a bit of a lost boy. His family’s been knocked off the pedestal they were on – his father’s come out of Azkaban and has been shunned by Voldemort as a useless entity, so he’s crawling his way back to power,” explains Felton.

“Draco’s really conflicted about wanting to please his father and his family, but there’s also something deep down inside him that says it’s not really what he wants to be doing. There are some great moments where he effectively saves Harry and there are no real answers as to why he does that.”

It provided a great challenge for the actor to explore Draco’s good side: “It’s easy to play a one-dimensional bully, who’s a fairly slimy git, but it’s trickier when you get behind why he’s like that.”

One of Felton’s favourite scenes was set in Malfoy Manor.

“It was the first time I got a chance to see the residence, which was rather gloomy and opulent. And it was the first time we ever had all the figures of evil in one room – Bellatrix Lestrange (Helena Bonham-Carter), Snape (Alan Rickman) and Voldemort, along with all the Malfoys. It was intense.

“Obviously these are all huge actors as well, so I was exceptionally nervous. A lot of mayhem happened within those four walls over a week or two, so it should be pretty scary stuff.”

Draco has become something of a cult figure for many Harry Potter fans – and Felton gets no end of unusual fan mail from around the world.

“You name it, they’ve sent it,” he laughs.

“I’m not knocking it, I’m always very appreciative, but there’s been local cuisine from around the world as well as hundreds of notes describing their frustration with my attitudes towards Harry and how I should leave him alone.

“I have about 15 silver spoons from Japan, apparently it’s a good luck symbol, so I’m very lucky to have a fairly healthy silver spoon collection …

For all these mad requests and silver spoons, he says he rarely gets recognised on the street when he’s his normal mousy self.

“It’s the hair thing, no one dyes their hair that colour out of choice at my age. With blond hair, it’s a bit of a struggle to walk down Oxford Street, but without it, I can go anywhere and no one will bat an eyelid.”

Since filming on the final Potter instalments finished in the UK summer, Felton’s thrown himself into new projects, including setting up a record label that “helps the little people” and filming his part as a baddie in sci-fi sequel Rise Of The Apes.

But far from being concerned about getting typecast as the villain, Felton reveals he actually finds it strangely cathartic being the bad guy on set.

“Even if I did negative roles for the rest of my life, I’d be quite happy. I find it therapeutic. I’m a happier person in day-to-day life because I can vent my frustrations through other people, and I enjoy playing someone really different from myself.

“I love going on set, being really friendly and then turning into a complete a***hole as soon as the cameras roll.”

He pauses, then adds: “I’d like to do anything that’s challenging, but if it was villainous roles for the next 40 years, I’m not going to knock it. I think there’s quite an art to being a good villain.”

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