Moving from Hogwarts to the Institute
Evanna Lynch has got 'leaving' on her mind: saying goodbye to Harry Potter and repeating her Leaving Cert, writes Andrea Byrne
Having gone from ultimate Harry Potter fan to ultimate Harry Potter character, Evanna Lynch's story is one of dreams. There was no tenure in stage school, no pushy parents, no burning ambition to be famous -- it was simply a love of the wizardry books that spurred her into writing to JK Rowling, and subsequently auditioning against 15,000 other girls for the role of Luna Lovegood.
"When I look at some old photos of me as a super fan," she begins, "I was in my school uniform and I had fallen asleep with the book closed. Ten years later, this is my job. It's cool. I am very proud and very lucky", adds the 19-year-old, who's currently promoting the penultimate movie in the series, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (the final one will be released next summer).
Evanna speaks very softly but confidently, and has a level of articulacy and maturity far beyond what her baby face and braces would suggest.
She has recently dyed her trademark blonde locks a rich shade of reddish brown. "I just wanted to see what it would be like," she says. "But I do prefer blonde. I'm gonna go back."
Evanna "cried" when they finished filming Harry Potter this summer, not least because she had to say goodbye to a character which has consumed her life for five years. "I love Luna. I have grown quite attached to her," she says. "It's like a friend leaving your life."
What also may have made finishing Harry Potter even harder for Evanna was that she knew she would be returning to school. She is repeating her Leaving Certificate in the Institute in Dublin. At the moment, at least, she's finding it hard to focus.
"I work hard when I'm in school, but whenever these premieres and press [interviews] come along, I just can't concentrate because you want to be in a good place. You don't want to be stressed out. You want to come into these interviews feeling fresh," says the teen from Termonfeckin, Co Louth. "After we get this press [interview] done, there won't be much until July, and that's fine because it will all be done by then."
Despite being very bright (she did a course at the Centre for Talented Youth of Ireland) and the fact her father is a principal of a school in Drogheda, you get the sense that Evanna has mixed views about education. She acknowledges its importance, but at the same time credits acting with developing her as a person in a way that school never could have.
"I was shy when I was 14," she says. "I used to hold back, I had more insecurities. If you're always holding back, you miss out on a lot. This has made me put myself out there for more things. I'm more confident that I can do what I want to do in the future. You're always being put in situations that aren't comfortable and I like being in a situation that is mentally uncomfortable. You need to grow and acting does that. It also opens your mind.
"Especially when you're at school doing exams, you can get too obsessed on your future, and you feel that you have to lock down what you're going to be, lock down your personality."
What if an acting job comes up? Is school her number-one priority for the next few months at least? "I have to say, it's not. I like acting, I really do. At the moment, nothing is coming up and I've braces, so that's going to be a factor, so I'm not going to be aggressively pushing for it.
"There's no reason to repeat the Leaving Cert really. I don't want to be a doctor. I just want it because I am going into acting, and in acting you never know when you're going to get another job. At least if I have a Leaving Cert, I won't feel so bad about doing something so insecure."
She has nothing but nice things to say about the main characters in the film. "Daniel (Radcliffe), Emma (Watson) and Rupert (Grint) are an inspiration to the rest of us, because they have been at it so long, and they still have, Dan especially, so much energy. He loves his job, and he's conscientious. He wants to do it perfect."
With all her school and film commitments, has Evanna any time for boys? The coy smile and hesitation immediately tells me she'd rather not say, but to her credit, she answers. "I would, but I'm quite picky."
At which point, a woman interrupts to tell me I've five minutes left and in doing so saves the teenager's blushes further. Despite her fame and achievements in Hollywood, it's rather endearing that Evanna Lynch is not beyond getting embarrassed over boys.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I is showing in cinemas nationwide