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Alfie Enoch talks playing Dean Thomas in Harry Potter, fans, current theatre work
What was it like being part of something as huge as the Harry Potter films? Did it take over your life?
Alfie Enoch: No it didn’t really. It was a lot of fun. I had read the books before I got the part so I knew exactly what it was about. I was seen in a National Youth Theatre play that was at the Globe and then went on tour and asked if I would like to audition. Initially they came around lots of schools and they came to my school and asked me to audition and I thought ‘Nahhh, why would they pick me?’ I was very defeatist about it and didn’t audition. So when the second opportunity came round I thought ‘wow, I better take it’. I was very fortunate because it’s not often you get a second chance like that.
On the first film I did 60 days [of filming] which is a lot considering I had one line! When you’re that young you just throw yourself into it and have a good time and don’t really worry about anything, which is quite nice really.
Did you have any crazy fans?
Alfie: I’m always surprised when anyone knows who I am in all honestly. I was in all of them but, one but I don’t do that much; that was the nature of the films. It was such a huge film and it’s brilliant they managed to create such a complete world, but in reality, if I’d have seen the film, I wouldn’t have known who I was if I’d walked past me! When someone says ‘were you that guy in Harry Potter?’ I think ‘wow, you must have seen that film at least five times’! Or maybe people are just a lot more observant than I am.
How did you first get interested in acting?
Alfie: I’ve always wanted to act, which sounds like a bit of a ridiculous thing to say, but I think it’s to do with the fact my father’s [William Russell] an actor and I grew up going to watch him in plays, which was always tremendously exciting. When you’re an eight year old kid, seeing your dad do his job can always be quite an impressive thing, especially when it looked like it was so much fun. When I was eight or nine, my dad was in the opening season at the Globe; watching Mark Rylance playing Henry V, my dad was the King of France. To call it a formative experience is a bit much, but it’s something I remember so clearly and it was just so exciting.
You’re currently appearing in both Antigone and Timon Of Athens. How did that come about?
Alfie: I have a lot to thank my parents for. My dad was very enterprising and said, when I got the part in Harry Potter, ‘well now you’re going to need an agent’. He got me a terrific agent who has been fantastic and looked after me since I was about 11 years old. I finished the show I did at the Old Red Lion [Happy New] and I was going up for a lot of things and I eventually got offered the National to do Antigone and Timon Of Athens and I thought ‘how exciting would that be?’ Antigone’s got Christopher Eccleston and Jodie Whittaker in it and Simon Russell Beale is in Timon so I was thrilled to bits at the audition, I just thought ‘don’t cock it up now’ [laughs].
How did you feel when you first stepped out onto the National stage?
Alfie: It was amazing. On Antigone, moving from the rehearsal room into the theatre for the tech, I remember looking up and thinking ‘wow’ and that was before I’d even stepped onto the stage. Antigone starts with everyone running on, it’s a very exciting start, it gets your blood pumping anyway but the moment you freeze and you realise there’s this wall of people, it’s just the most exhilarating thing. It’s a really extraordinary space to stand in, it’s like a football stadium.
I had that feeling again, even multiplied, at our first preview for Timon Of Alfie: Athens because I have a small soliloquy to the audience. It was like jumping out of a plane! It was probably one of the most exhilarating experience of my life. I just came off shaking and saying to everyone who would listen ‘that was brilliant’! It really was an unforgettable moment.
Would you like to work on stage and screen?
I would love to do both, who wouldn’t? I think in an ideal world that’s what I’d love to do but doing theatre is always something that’s really excited me and it’s how I first came to acting through watching plays. There’s something about that feeling that I had in that first preview, stepping out and all of a sudden being alone on stage and having a wall of people [in front of you], that thrill that it gives you to have an audience and be able to share it in the immediate sense, that’s something that you don’t get on camera.