If there’s one thing you learn at LeakyCon, it’s that Harry Potter fans can be even more involved with the fandom than with the books themselves. The same even counts for the Harry Potter actors, some of whom were actively involved in fandom before they were even cast.
We caught up with some of the younger cast members at LeakyCon London, most of them convention regulars. Here’s what we learned about their (heartwarmingly positive) attitude towards fandom.
Benedict Clarke (Young Snape): “I’ve read ‘Wings Of Lust,’ which is about Quirrel and Quirrel’s sexual escapades. That’s the only fanfiction I’ve ever read, and it was quite disturbing.”
Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood): “I used to read a lot of fanfiction because it kind of held you over between books. Some of them were so well written that it was quite entertaining. On this website I used to go on, there was a restricted section and I was like, I wonder what that would be like? I read one and that was it. I think Harry ended up getting pregnant with Draco Malfoy’s baby. The thing was, it was so well-written that it was actually quite believable, so when I went back to reading the books I was kind of like, I can’t believe Draco would do that!”
Robbie Jarvis (Young James Potter): “Maybe I was the only one who did this, but I always liked writing as a kid, and I got so into the books when I was eleven or twelve that I actually kind of dabbled with it. Neil Gaiman had an amazing quote about fanfiction, which was that it’s training wheels for writers. Because someone’s already created your world for you, you can just play in it. It does probably get a bad rep, like fans. There’s always one that’s like, ‘Oh god there was that crazy one,’ but 99.9 percent of them are just awesome people.”
On Internet fandom
Rohan Gotobed (Young Sirius Black): “It’s like a living organism.”
Evanna Lynch: “We were definitely told, first day on set, DON’T GOOGLE YOURSELF.”
Scarlett Byrne (Pansy Parkinson): “But you do. Obviously.”
Robbie Jarvis: “I think a lot of us were probably registered on Mugglenet before we were cast.”
Evanna Lynch: “I’ve been to a few conventions and with most them, you get paid well but you sell your soul for the weekend. You just sit there and sign, and it becomes very meaningless. Whereas at Leaky they do it in such a way that it’s manageable. You get a chance to interact personally with the fans... so it’s not so hollow as other conventions. It’s the spirit that makes it unique. “
Robbie Jarvis: “There’s no barrier between them and us. We can go to the panels, and yesterday we ran a workshop that was completely impromptu, just forty people kind of sat in a circle, talking, and then we did some yoga. In Chicago we had a great big onesie party. Everyone, actors included, just came and sat down and we set a world record for the most number of people in onesies. If you’re a child at heart, it’s just a great place to be. It’s not about just coming and gawking at actors and getting their autograph.”
Scarlett Byrne: “There’s some people who have friends all over the world, and this is like their one opportunity where they all come together.”
On JK Rowling’s new book, The Cuckoo’s Calling
Evanna Lynch: “She must’ve been so sick of it, because she’s always been this fantasy writer, that’s her niche. The press don’t give her the freedom to go and experiment, but she’s an artist. She should be able to go and do whatever she wants. I admire what she’s done.”
Rohan Gotobed: “In some ways, Harry Potter’s also published under a fake name. They got her to create JK Rowling because it sounded more masculine.”
Robbie Jarvis: “But that’s an indictment of our industry. A lot of the time, female authors that write fiction aren’t taken very seriously. I mean, she wasn’t Rebecca Galbraith. That tells us something, right? That’s a shame, it’s something we need to change.”
So, there you have it. James Potter is a feminist, Luna Lovegood is a card-carrying fanfic reader, and everyone loves fandom (although not if it means they have to spend hours signing autographs in an airless convention center).
The final Potter movie came out two years ago, so it’s not as if these guys have anything to promote. But at the end of the press conference we learn that everyone in the room is a registered member of the official fan site, Pottermore. As they all reveal their “real” Hogwarts houses (with varying levels of acceptance—Benedict Clarke is not happy to be a Hufflepuff), you get the impression that some of them would even attend the convention just for fun.
Photo by Gavia Baker-Whitelaw