Tom Felton auditioned for ‘Harry Potter’ without reading the books

Halfway through a video interview with Tom Felton about his best-selling memoir, Beyond the Rodthe actor who played Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter films removes the blue-gray baseball cap he’s been wearing and starts stroking his hair. He splits it with his fingers, slaps it with a palm, then snaps it up with a quick flick of the wrist.

Felton’s locks are darker than in his Slytherin days – more sand than platinum – but watching him fidget with his trademark coiffure is a bit like watching Daniel Radcliffe clean his glasses . You feel like you’re getting a glimpse behind the scenes at Hogwarts.

Beyond the Rod, which ended at No. 1, is a mischievous, subtle culmination of a decade’s worth of Felton’s scrappy memories of growing up as the youngest of four brothers in Surrey, England (he was nicknamed “runt” and “maggot “), and of the 10 years he spent as a boy wizard. “At Comic Con, someone would ask me a question and then when I left, my mind would still be racing about that story,” he said. “I would be forced to write it down so I wouldn’t forget it. I’m notorious for losing things, but somehow I managed to keep all these pieces of paper.”

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Which of Felton’s revelations will come as a surprise to the so-called Potterheads crowd, who will make old-school Beatles fans look like paragons of inhibition? “I think maybe what fun we had?” Felton offered. “That and I guess the big one is how I got to be Draco Malfoy. They basically asked me what part of the book I was most excited to see in a movie and I panicked, knowing full well that I knew nothing about the book. So I said the same thing to the boy next to me and lied – quite badly, I think, because Chris Columbus, the director, saw right through my lie. I think that was the first moment he thought: Draco. (For those who don’t know, Draco is a cunning and deceitful soul, although he is a talented wizard.)

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Felton writes, “I would like to tell you that Tom, age 12, was encouraged to remove the squirrel by some. Harry Potter books as a result of participating in the tests, but it was not. It helped, I think. The filmmakers weren’t so much looking for actors; they were looking for people who were those characters.”

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Spoiler alert: Draco Malfoy isn’t all bad; he grew up just surrounded by bad people. And the man who sent it has strong advice for the younger generation: “Don’t lie, my children. It’s a good rule of thumb not to lie.”

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