The magical lessons of Luna Lovegood: Q&A with Harry Potter’s Evanna Lynch

Evanna Lynch, who plays Luna Lovegood in four Harry Potter films, spoke at Western Washington University on Wednesday, May 16.

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Lynch talked about how her character Luna inspired her.

Lynch said she hoped audience members would not be held back by their fears after seeing her presentation.

“There were many nights while studying for my final exams, when I’d get so resentful of my cat’s inactivity I would shut her out in the rain for an hour to settle the score,” she said jokingly.

As much as she wants to bask in the laziness of being a cat, Lynch wants everyone to take inspiration from Luna Lovegood and make the most of their lives.

+++There's an interview but I doubt anyone will read it; she talks more about how she overcame her eating disorder and her relationship with JK Rowling+++


The Western Front sat down with Irish-born actress Evanna Lynch to talk about self-esteem, Harry Potter and the difference between Washington state and Washington D.C.

Lynch struggled with an eating disorder at age 11, transferring in and out of rehabilitation centers for two years. She had succumbed to her illness because she felt like it was the one thing she couldn't fail at. She felt she was too odd and she used her disorder to cover that up as a means of succeeding to be the smallest person in the room.

Lynch lives in LA right now, but is moving back to London for a few months to act in an upcoming play as Harry Houdini's wife.

Why did you choose Western to speak at on your tour?

I wouldn't say I'm on a tour. It's just something I started recently. It was actually my manager who got in touch with you guys at Western and told me about it. It sounded like a great college, and I had never been there. I have an aunt in Seattle, so it's a good excuse.

What do you plan on speaking about this evening?

I'm known for playing Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter films, and I know I have to reference that. The only reason I started getting into this is because I started doing [these talks] at Harry Potter conventions.

Through playing her, I always get a lot of mail from girls or boys or anyone. People who are struggling with self-esteem and people who get bullied, because she's a character who does get bullied and she's kind of an outcast. I think people always say she inspires them because she kind of owns it, you know? She doesn't let it affect her.

I understand how she does it and understand it's so difficult to be that way. So I'm trying to shed some light on that and how she lives without fear and that helps her be herself.

Why is this issue so important to you?

It's important to me because she helped me overcome my shyness. I've always been more artistic and felt a little more odd, and that's the way Luna is. Seeing her in the books helped me grow up and overcome that. Getting to play her, I kind of realize I have to follow those values and I want to do this character justice. I want to live that way.

It's just such a privilege. Like when I get letters and people say, “She helped me come to terms with who I am.” That inspires me so much that I want to go out and spread that message.


How did you get your role in the Harry Potter films and how did that begin?

It was truly because I was a huge Harry Potter fan. I was obsessed with the books and everything.

It's totally a way of life, being a nerd. It's awesome.

I would go on the websites, and I was aware they were going to be casting soon, and I was keeping an eye out. Then they made an announcement on one of the fan websites, and I begged my dad to bring me to London to audition, because I was broke and 14 and couldn't go by myself. Eventually he relented and he brought me to the audition. I had one audition, then I had a screen test and that was it. It was very quick.

I read in one of your essays you had contact with J.K. Rowling. What's your experience with that?

I wrote to her when I was 11, and I was sick at the time. I had an eating disorder. I wrote to her because Harry Potter was the only other thing I really cared about and that helped me take my mind off it, and I just wanted to thank her for that and say how much it helped me. Especially how much Luna helped me. It was basically just a big fat, “thank you, I love you” letter.

I kept expecting her not to write back, but she's just such a caring person that she really wants to help with whatever wisdom she has. We wrote for years, and she helped me through recovery and everything.

I was still writing to her when I got the part of Luna.
But it happened in such a short space of time that I didn't get to tell her. The producers told her because they just mentioned the names of people. She was really shocked. We still keep in touch.

At 11 years old, how did you get the courage to start your recovery and get your health back in check?

I don't know if it was courage so much. The whole reason it started was a struggle with identity and wanting to have something. It was this thing, and this is why Luna sort of helped me heal so much—the feeling that I was too odd and different and wanting to cover that up.

It came to a point where life wasn't fun anymore. I wasn't doing anything with it, and I was just miserable. My parents had been putting me into centers, and obviously they help you heal physically, but that's not what it is.

I do attribute it as well to my family and my friends. They treated me as a person rather than a sick person. I started just doing things again. I started acting, I started doing art again and I was like, “I like that better.” Though the whole reason you get into it is you don't want to fail at anything. It is all just fear. I just started to be like, “I like risks.” I like taking risks better and just found that it was way more worthwhile to do something with my life.


Did you always know you wanted to be an actress?

I always toyed with the idea, but, living in Ireland, it's not really a career option. People are like, “Oh come on now, get real,” because we don't really have a film industry. I was always into creativity. I knew I would either write or do art or act or something. Then I got Harry Potter, and I got so addicted to it and it was like, “There's no way I'm ever going to quit this.”

Do you have anything in particular coming up?

I'm doing a play soon [Houdini, for the British stage]. I've been living in Los Angeles for a while so I've been doing a little bit of TV and things here and there [Sky1's Sinbad which was cancelled in February 2013 after one season; Apex; It Don't Come Easy; Stray Dogs; Monster Butler with Gary Oldman which was cancelled due to problems with funding], and I did an indie film last year [G.B.F.]. But I want to do more.

I've always wanted to do plays, and LA is not really the scene for it. So I'm going back to London for a few months to do a play about Houdini.
I can't get away from magic; you can never stray too far. I'm just so excited to do live performances. It's a bit scary, but exciting.

How was your first experience on the set of Harry Potter?

Just so overwhelming. I was such a huge fan that I couldn't believe being thrown into this world and having all the other cast around me. I struggled with this feeling that I was fit for the job. I kept feeling that I've won a challenge or something and they were going to find me out anytime, so it was nerve-racking.

It probably took me about two films to actually get into it and to feel at home and make the most of it. Because, the rest of the time, I was just nervous that I was going to upset anyone. But it made me grow up and realize that seeing all these people who I idolized so much doing what they love, it made me realize that it's just all about people working hard. It's not that they're any more special or gifted than anyone else. They just work hard and believe in themselves.

How was it ending the Harry Potter films?

Oh, it was awful. I'm still getting over it! We just became so comfortable, and I know they overuse this word, but we were a family. Everyone just loved and supported each other. That was my first working experience, so I just felt so comfortable. The last day of filming, it felt like Harry Potter films had extended my childhood to where I was in this net.

Also because you're young and young in the films and there are always people saying “You're doing great; you're so far ahead of your time.” Then suddenly it ends you're like, “Oh crap! I need to do something to get my career going again.” It was like taking the safety net out. I think all my friends, all the other young actors, struggled a little bit to find out what the next step is. Some of us have to question whether we do still want to do acting or what else we want to do.

The great thing is, we have all had each other through it. I do understand if other young actors go off the rails because they don't have all these other people. Harry Potter was unique [because] it was a bunch of young kids, so it was like graduating school together. You know, where you just feel so lost, but then you just make fun of it and help each other and say “It's okay, no pressure.”


What do you hope for the audience to get out of your presentation?

I know people think the character Luna is very whimsical and fun. In the movies she's used a lot for comic relief. She has got such wisdom and there is depth to her. The reason she is able to be herself and just not care what other people think is because she doesn't have fears. She doesn't perceive negativity in other people.

I guess I want to make people aware to not be held back by their fears and to be aware when that is what's holding them back, and to see through it the way she does. She never worries about what's going to happen to her, she just trusts. She has so much self-acceptance and self-love that she absolutely never doubts herself and to just be aware of that, I guess.

When you were a Harry Potter fan before you got the role, did you picture yourself as Luna, or did you find yourself in-tune with another character?

She was the one I aspired to be like more. I didn't ever think, "I am her." When I got the role, people were like, "Oh, she's so much like her." I took that really as a compliment.

I definitely think it shows the fact that I was so negative for a while and that I did have that illness and everything, there was a conflict. I wanted to be so much more like her and I knew I had that inner, really free side that doesn't give a damn. That's what helped me identify with her. She still is, every day, an inspiration. She's like a role model to me. I didn't ever want to play anyone else.

+++And a video+++


- ''It has been a long held and completely unattainable dream of mine to one day become a cat.''

- ''I’m going to die one day, and my body will return to the ground, and I’ll turn into grass, and a cow will eat that grass, and then the cow will be milked and a cat might drink that milk, and suddenly BOOM, I’ve done it!''

- ''I’m here to give a talk on self-empowerment. Now let me into goddamn Canada!''

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