The sixth Harry Potter movie doesn't skimp on franchise staples: there's Quidditch-ing and wand-waving and potion-stirring, as well as the expected dastardly-deed-doing of Voldemort's crew. But for the first time, there's also (finally!) some serious romance. Hogwarts has become a hormonal minefield, navigated to mixed results: Hermione pines, Harry ogles, and Ron full-on snogs, spending a good chunk of the movie glued to blond classmate Lavender Brown. Brown's shrill, teen-queen glory is brought to life by Jessie Cave, a 22-year-old Londoner and newcomer to the franchise. Ahead of the movie's release, Cave spoke with NEWSWEEK's Sarah Ball about smooching, avoiding swine flu, and the utter agony of unrequited love. Excerpts:
Lavender, to put it lightly, is very aggressive in pursuing Ron. Why?
I think that she's misunderstood, really. She's insecure, I think, and her main problem is that she's just obsessed with Ron. She loves him. She's almost borderline under a spell: she is just entranced by him, and that kind of causes her to become a bit wayward. She's not really aware of how she's coming across to everybody, as a bit mad. She realizes pretty quickly that he has feelings for somebody else—Hermione—and she kind of reacts to that by becoming incredibly clingy and possessive and loud and annoying. But I think she's just got a big heart and she just wants to be loved, you know? (Story continued below...)
You play being heartbroken very well. It was so evident in your face.
She just feels so embarrassed, and very exposed at that moment, very raw. At that age, you become soooo heartbroken by boys, you develop such big crushes, and then you're soooo devastated when they don't work out. I really do feel her pain.
Do you remember this chapter of your own life?
Yes. It's always going to be incredibly hurtful when your love is unrequited. And there's an age where you remember things so vividly. I think that's why J. K. Rowling writes so brilliantly. She must have had these experiences, because otherwise she wouldn't have been able to write them so pitch-perfectly. It's great, because she really does transport everybody back to that period in their life. This book especially is so, so accurate of teenage obsession and hormones raging.
You are totally festooned with bows, bangles, headbands, every Topshop accessory imaginable.
She's a very girly-girl—she's like the type of girl that you could imagine you could hear coming a mile off because of her bangles kind of rubbing together. She's perfectly curled and coifed and ready to be seen at any occasion—very, very aware of how she looks. And very pink.
Are you like that in real life?
No, I'm definitely not as prepared as she is, and I'm definitely not as neatly intact at all times. It was a major decision to make her hair curly, and to make her very pristine. The headbands are something I wear in my life, too. But I'm definitely nothing like her; I wear glasses in real life and have a bit of a beak.
Lavender vs. Hermione is our first Hogwarts girl war. Can they ever be friends?
Hermione is the total, total opposite of Lavender. I think that's why she ruffles Hermione's feathers so much and gets under her skin. Ron has fallen for somebody who is the antithesis of her. And it's just quite insulting when somebody you really, really like goes for somebody who is so different than you. You're like, "What's' wrong with me?" Hermione's very simple, and plain, and subtle and discrete—something that Lavender can never be. They won't get on ever, in any universe, because they don't fit together. They clash.
When you first kiss Ron, you're in a huge common room of 50-plus other students. Were you nervous?
It was strange. It was the third day of my filming schedule, so Rupert [Grint] had to get accustomed to me just kind of leaping on him all the time early on. It was quite a long scene to shoot, as well—it took a few days—so we were having to kiss and to do it over and over and over again.
And the crowds staring at you?
I actually couldn't really see anything. I didn't have my contacts in, because I'd forgotten them, so I was quite happy in my own little world.
If you'd filmed that scene now instead of a year ago, Lavender might've gotten swine flu. [Rupert Grint, the actor who plays Ron, was diagnosed with a "mild case" of the illness earlier this month.]
Yeah, that would be quite funny! I think he's all better now.
As the newcomer, is it still weird to see yourself on posters everywhere?
It's so, so strange to be involved in this kind of franchise that I've grown up watching and been in awe of. Nobody could've missed out on the Harry Potter phenomenon, you know? Nobody doesn't know what the books are, nobody hasn't seen one film, or at least read one book, or one page of one book. Everyone knows it. And so to be involved with it has been quite great, because it's immediately a common ground with people ... immediately people feel they can talk to me about it.
Think you'll get used to it?
I just can't wait to be 88, and to talk to my grandchildren and just to say that I played Lavender Brown. I still think I'm going to be in a bit of a daze for a while, but I can't wait till the future, really, when I can look back on it and kind of just be amazed by it.
Anyone make you feel star struck at the premiere?
Helena Bonham Carter is just my favorite actress ever. To be in the same auditorium as her, and at the party, as well, where I saw her ... I just thought, "Oh, I love you!"
And the next film?
I am doing Harry Potter 8, so I'm doing the final section of the books where I'm in battle and Lavender kind of gets almost killed, or she dies, which I definitely know I'm going to be back for!