David Thewlis Sinks His Teeth Into ‘Harry Potter’ (2004)
On one of the hottest summer days in last year’s European heat wave, David Thewlis left a darkened soundstage at England’s ‘Shepperton Studios’ and ventured into the sun. And everyone who saw what happened next figured that Thewlis, the acclaimed British actor who plays professor ‘Remus Lupin’ in “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”, had taken Method acting to a new extreme. “I remember coming out of the studio and hitting the light and screaming,” Thewlis says, laughing. “I’d stepped out of Shepperton and into the light, and the light hit the pinholes of my lenses. Everyone was like, ‘He’s really in character.’ I was screaming like a wolf.
Watch Out Boy, He’s a Maneater!: David Thewlis, as professor Lupin – with Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter – comes out as a creature of the night in the ‘Prisoner of Azkaban’. “It was pretty uncomfortable,” he says, “But at the same time it was kind of exciting, because in your career you don’t expect to do the classic thing of the werewolf transformation.”
Thewlis joins a ‘Who’s Who’ of British actors in the Harry Potter franchise effective as of “Prisoner of Azkaban” The film, which will open nationwide June 4, also features fellow newcomers Gary Oldman as Sirius Black, Timothy Spall as Peter Pettigrew, Emma Thompson as professor Trelawney and Michael Gambon, who actually hails from Ireland, replacing the late Richard Harris as Headmaster Albus Dumbledore. Julie Christie, Robbie Coltrane, Alan Rickman, Maggie Smith and Julie Walters are among the returnees. As “Harry Potter” fans know, Lupin is a former best friend of Black, Pettigrew and James Potter, long-dead father of Harry (Daniel Radcliffe). Dumbledore allows Lupin to teach ‘Defense Against the Dark Arts’ class at Hogwarts, and Lupin and Harry form a fast bond. Every full moon, however, Lupin must be whisked to the Shrieking Shack, where he can howl, snarl and attack without harming anyone.
Speaking by telephone from Morocco during a day off from shooting Ridley Scott’s upcoming “Kingdom of Heaven”, the garrulous Thewlis – whose previous credits include such fantasy and sci-fi films as “James and the Giant Peach”, “Dragonheart”, “The Island of Dr. Moreau”, “Total Eclipse” (where he played a young Leo Dicaprio’s gay lover) and “Timeline” – explains that he played Lupin more as a human than as a werewolf. “For most of the film I’m human and very avuncular, a very gentle character and very sympathetic to Harry,” says the actor, who was almost cast as professor Quirrel (Ian Hart) in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. “And I didn’t want to give hints to his lupine nature before we actually see it, particularly because I didn’t want to give away the surprise for anyone who’s not read the book. “I didn’t want there to be wolfish tics or something in the way he walks,” Thewlis continues, “So I’m generally human. I do have two big scars across my face all throughout the film that are never explained, but the idea is that they’ve happened when I’ve transformed before.”
Thewlis confirms that “Prisoner of Azkaban” is to date the scariest by far of the Harry Potter films, much more so than either ‘Sorcerer’s Stone’ or “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”. One Lupin scene in particular, the actor says in a spoiler-filled spurt of conversation, might make the uninitiated toss their butterbeer and chocolate frogs in panic. “The scene will be a total shock, hopefully, for anyone who’s not familiar with the books,” Thewlis says. “It comes from nowhere, two-thirds of the way through the film. Hermione (Emma Watson) sees the moon rising, and we’ve just been in the Shrieking Shack. We come out, and we’re holding Wormtail/Peter Pettigrew hostage. At that moment the moon rises and I go through the transformation. “Once I am a werewolf, he’s played by a 9-foot Thai kickboxer or a ballet dancer,” he says. “They’re very tall guys in this animatronic body suit, at which point I went home. “I was so glad I wasn’t in that body suit,” Thewlis adds. “I was working with Gary Oldman, who’s an old experienced veteran of prosthetics with ‘Dracula,’ and he was very sympathetic because I’m changing as Sirius holds onto me. Gary was sympathizing with me about how difficult it was going to be and how we were going to be there for a long time. “In fact, because he’s holding onto me as I’m changing, we got to a point where I’d changed as much as I could on camera, and then the CGI and the animatronic creature took over,” the actor says with a laugh. “But Gary was actually left there the whole time. I said, ‘Bye, Gary. I’m going home, man. You’ve got another two days hanging onto this piece of plastic!’ “But it was great fun.”
Thewlis attended a recent rough-cut screening of “Prisoner of Azkaban” at the behest of director Alfonso Cuaron, and he gives the film high marks. “I really liked it,” he says. “I thought it was great. I was just proud to be in it, really. I do think it’s the best of the three. The series is progressing and the kids are certainly progressing. They’ve come on considerably, all three of them.”
Thewlis will not appear in “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”, which is in production now. However, he anticipates the chance to reprise Lupin in “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”, when the Harry Potter team sets about realizing the fifth book of J.K. Rowling’s magical saga. “In the prepping for ‘Azkaban,’ ” he says, “I read ‘Azkaban’ and ‘Goblet of Fire.’ Then, right in the middle of filming ‘Azkaban,’ ‘Order of the Phoenix’ was published. I have to tell you that I’ve not completely finished it – I’m saving that for when we do it. “I’m hoping that they cast me,” Thewlis says. “It’s not a foregone conclusion, but I’m assuming that, because Lupin returns in Book 5, that I’ll be back again too.”
· Published | 2004
· Journalist | Ian Spelling
· Source | © Feature Contributor
· Credit | Submitted by Amanda